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Morning Briefing: Let's play two!

3/19/2015

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. --

FIRST PITCH: Back to work!

After enjoying the only day off on their Grapefruit League schedule, the Mets resume play with a pair of games Thursday.

Dillon Gee begins his reintroduction to the rotation by facing ex-Met Collin McHugh and the Houston Astros at Tradition Field at 1:10 p.m. (SNY).

Jonathon Niese and the other half of the Amazin’s head to Jupiter to face left-hander Jaime Garcia and the St. Louis Cardinals at 1:05 p.m. View the travel list here.

Minor league games begin Thursday, too. Triple-A Las Vegas and Double-A Binghamton open at home against Miami Marlins affiliates.

THURSDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:

  • Zack Wheeler's agent told ESPNNewYork.com that the Mets were not responsible for the right-hander’s torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. B.B. Abbott said independent doctors had reviewed Wheeler’s case and concluded the UCL was not in danger. Abbott subsequently told Matt Ehalt in The Record that Wheeler dealt with a bone spur last season, which was believed to be the root of the pain. Wheeler hoped to get through 2015 with manageable discomfort, then surgically address the bone spur next offseason if warranted. Wheeler also had a torn tendon that twice prompted platelet-rich plasma therapy this offseason, according to Marc Carig in Newsday. Read more in the Post, Daily News and Newsday.

  • Manager Terry Collins told ESPNNewYork.com on Tuesday that he still has three contenders for Opening Day starter: Bartolo Colon, Jacob deGrom and Niese. A source early in camp -- well before Wheeler’s injury -- had predicted Colon. Read more in Newsday.

  • Read ESPNNewYork.com’s review of “Baseball Maverick,” the book about Sandy Alderson, here.

  • The not-yet-exercised team option on Collins for 2016 is worth $1.2 million, Jon Heyman tweeted.

  • Matt Harvey has 25-to-1 odds and deGrom has 50-to-1 odds to win the NL Cy Young, according to Bovada. The favorite, at even money, is Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. Lucas Duda is a 100-to-1 shot to lead the majors in homers, according to the betting site.

  • Harvey next pitches on Sunday against the Yankees. He reportedly will oppose CC Sabathia in Port St. Lucie.

  • Tim Rohan in the Times discusses the proliferation of beards with the Mets. Even the minor league side of camp is getting in on the action to some extent, with the Mets relaxing their former clean-shaven requirements on the farm. Writes Rohan:

    In one of the first meetings of the spring, on the minor league side, the Mets announced that they were changing the rule: Minor leaguers would be allowed to have neatly trimmed beards. That meant no neck beards, and nothing too thick. They could not look like Parnell or Black. But for the team, it was a major concession.“Look, my attitude is: Major league guys are doing the same thing,” general manager Sandy Alderson said about the rule change. “I don’t see any reason to treat our minor leaguers that much differently.”

  • Injury expert Stephania Bell at ESPN.com suggests David Wright's shoulder is looking healthier. Wright homered over the batter’s eye in center field on Saturday at Tradition Field.

  • Dan Martin in the Post chats with hitting coach Kevin Long.

  • Although the Mets reportedly have scouted Baltimore Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz, Ken Rosenthal at FoxSports.com suggests the Mets “may prefer other options.” Matusz, 28, will make $3.2 million this season. He has one more season of control, in 2016. Lefty batters hit .223 against him last season. Righties hit .277.

  • Ehalt in The Record reviews the bullpen situation in light of Josh Edgin needing Tommy John surgery and Gee sliding back into the rotation. Rafael Montero should now claim one vacant spot.

  • SNY will televise a special on Harvey's return from Tommy John surgery at 7 p.m. Thursday. Read more in Newsday.

  • Mr. Met made the Times’ crossword puzzle on Wednesday, MLB.com writes.

  • The Mets unveiled on Wednesday the Citi Field scoreboard’s video-capability upgrade.

  • Tickets for the Zac Brown Band performance on Aug. 21 at Citi Field go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. at Mets.com/ZBB and by calling (718) 507-TIXX.

  • From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear salutes the Mets' aces of the last 10 years.

BIRTHDAYS: Infielder Yeixon Ruiz, who had 291 plate appearances with Savannah last season, turns 24.

TWEET OF THE DAY:

YOU’RE UP: Who should start on Opening Day for the Mets?