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Morning Briefing: Bartolo Colon aims to catch Pedro Martinez on Saturday

NEW YORK -- Bartolo Colon can achieve a significant milestone in his native country Saturday. He can match Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez for second on the all-time wins list among Dominican-born pitchers when the New York Mets face the Philadelphia Phillies at 7:10 p.m. ET at Citi Field. Colon opposes right-hander Vince Velasquez.

Among Dominican-born pitchers, Juan Marichal ranks first with 243 wins, followed by Martinez (219), Colon (218), Ramon Martinez (135), Pedro Astacio (129), Joaquin Andujar (127), Ervin Santana (126), Jose Rijo (116), Miguel Batista (102), Ubaldo Jimenez (101) and Mario Soto (100).

Colon downplayed the potential achievement, noting he has 467 career starts to Pedro Martinez’s 409.

“It is still a great achievement, especially for all of us Latin American players,” Pedro Martinez countered in Spanish. “Those victories were enough for me to get into the Hall of Fame. Bartolo may not have the same numbers, but he has a great chance to be part of a very special group and become one of the Latin American pitchers to have won the most games in history. Hopefully he will continue well beyond 219. I hope he wins many more.

“I am very proud to have him mentioned along with me and Juan. It is an honor that there is another Dominican that was able to maintain the health and consistency necessary to play so many years in the big leagues and perform well, too. Bartolo is a great human being. He’s a great competitor. Very humble. And if I could wish someone to have his name mentioned next to us, I would say Bartolo is one of the first.”

Martinez added that he hopes Colon catches Nicaraguan-born pitcher Dennis Martinez, who amassed a Latin American-best 245 wins.

“I wish him so many blessings, and I hope he not only surpasses me, but also Marichal and Dennis Martinez,” Pedro Martinez said. “I already did what I was going to do in the majors, and I hope Bartolo continues to do his thing, and that he stays healthy. Above all, I hope that when his career is over he is satisfied and finishes healthy, as I did.”

SATURDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:

  • Jacob deGrom had a complicated Friday while earning a win in his season debut. He departed after six innings with right lat tightness. His fastball velocity averaged 92.8 mph -- off last year’s 95.0 mph average. And he still is awaiting the birth of his first child. DeGrom intends to test the lat Saturday by tossing a baseball on flat ground. If he continues to have issues, Logan Verrett could step in for Wednesday’s start against the Miami Marlins. Steven Matz's lat strain last season cost him two months on the disabled list. Read more in the Journal and at NJ.com and MLB.com.

  • Before departing, deGrom allowed one run on five hits in six innings and the Mets beat the Phillies, 7-2, in the home opener. Michael Conforto drove in a career-high-matching three runs. Neil Walker upped his season RBI total to five, which accounts for 41.7 percent of the team’s run production. Antonio Bastardo made his Mets debut with a scoreless ninth. Jim Henderson continued to impress. And batters are now 0-for-19 against Jerry Blevins in his Mets career. The Phillies are off to their first 0-4 start since 2006. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and CSN Philly.

  • Terry Collins remains committed to platooning Conforto, despite confidence the young left fielder can hit southpaws. The Mets are due to face their first southpaw Monday. Read more in Newsday.

  • David Wright is due to sit out on Saturday as the Mets strategically rest the 33-year-old captain on what is forecast to be a damp and cold night in Queens. Read more in Newsday and at NJ.com.

  • Zack Wheeler will undergo surgery Tuesday to remove a stitch that did not dissolve from his original Tommy John surgery. The procedure should only minimally sidetrack Wheeler.

  • Vince Piazza tells Kevin Kernan in the Post that the bidding to reacquire the jersey son Mike Piazza wore in the first game back after 9/11 has become too expensive and he will not be able to secure it. In online bidding via Goldin Auctions, the price currently is up to $151,000. “I was willing to pay $86,000, even go up to $90,000, write the check on the spot, and send the jersey to Cooperstown,” Vince Piazza tells Kernan. “But I can see what is going on here. This is just a bidding war. I’m not getting involved in that, so I’m out.” The Piazza family is upset the Mets sold the treasured item a few years ago.

  • Columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record suggests the Mets are not panicking about deGrom’s injury, but they’re “not dismissing” something substantial being wrong, either. Columnist David Lennon in Newsday also tackles deGrom’s lat issue, plus his diminished velocity.

  • Jeff McNeil homered and doubled and drove in both Binghamton runs in a 2-1 win against New Hampshire. Wuilmer Becerra delivered a two-run single in the eighth that pulled St. Lucie within two runs, but Champ Stuart followed with a bases-loaded groundout in a 5-3 loss to Jupiter. David Thompson and Vicente Lupo each doubled and scored in the top of the ninth to even the score, but Columbia lost to Charleston 5-4 in the bottom half when Witt Haggard surrendered a walk-off RBI single. Read the full minor league recap here.

  • Mets icon Rusty Staub, who suffered a heart attack on an Oct. 3 transcontinental flight, helped raise the 2015 NL championship banner before Friday’s home opener. Afterward, the 72-year-old Staub told the Post: “To be truthful, I’m just kind of pleased I’m still around to watch it. I’m feeling fine. I’m not doing a whole lot of wind sprints right now, but I’m getting along. I’m alive. I’m moving around. I’m on the right side of the grass, vertical and moving.”

  • Philadelphia’s Maikel Franco sat out Friday’s game after getting hit with a pitch in his upper left forearm a day earlier. He could return Saturday, Jim Salisbury writes at CSN Philly.

  • Colon got the biggest cheers during pregame introductions Friday, Zach Braziller writes in the Post.

  • The man who dresses as Mr. Met was snubbed for an NL championship ring, Brian Niemietz writes in the Daily News. “The organization created and distributed more than 750 rings. There were specific criteria for part-time and per-diem employees related to hours worked last season,” a Mets spokesperson told the newspaper. “He worked approximately half of the required hours last season, did not meet the criteria, and as such did not receive a ring.”

  • The ex-Brewer Henderson has retired all six batters he has faced as a Met, including four via strikeout. ESPN’s Mark Simon tweets that Henderson has thrown 20 of 24 pitches for strikes, and 16 of his 19 fastballs have touched 95 mph. Read more on his resurrection in the Post and at NJ.com.

  • Read more on Walker’s output in Newsday and the Daily News.

  • Michael Powell in the Times writes that “expectations for an embarrassment of riches were happily met” by the Mets in the home opener.

  • Khristina Narizhnaya in the Post catches up with Mets fans entering Citi Field, including one of the four-legged variety. Read more fan reaction in the Record.

  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie attended the home opener, NJ.com reports.

  • The Mets need to win 14 or 15 of their 19 games against the lowly Phillies this season, columnist Joel Sherman writes in the Post.

  • 2015 is over, Collins notes to columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post.

  • Phillies manager Pete Mackanin called a baserunning blunder Friday “unacceptable.” Cesar Hernandez indicated he did not notice an infield-fly call before he was doubled off first base. Read the details in the Post.

  • From the bloggers ... Mets Report recalls its favorite Opening Day memories.

BIRTHDAYS: Eric Campbell turns 29. ... Graeme Lloyd is 49. ... Bullpen catcher Eric Langill is 37.

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