New York Mets: Rob Johnson

Cards 11, Mets 4: Farmhands roughed up

March, 26, 2013

Brad Barr/USA TODAY Sports
Kirk Nieuwenhuis makes a diving catch during Tuesday's game.

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The St. Louis Cardinals roughed up several Mets farmhands en route to an 11-4 win Tuesday at Tradition Field after Jeremy Hefner was forced to leave Tuesday's game with an elbow bruise.

Randy Fontanez, a 27th-round pick in 2011 from South Florida, failed to retire any of the seven batters he faced. He surrendered a grand slam to Pete Kozma and was charged with five earned runs on four hits and three walks.

Yadier Molina belted a two-run homer against Chase Huchingson and ex-Met Rob Johnson went deep against Dylan Owen.

Armando Rodriguez did contribute two no-hit innings.

Lucas Duda went 3-for-4 with four RBIs, lifting his Grapefruit League average to .302 despite a slow start. Duda produced his fifth homer.

Catcher Johnson inks with Cards

November, 13, 2012
Rob Johnson, who appeared in 17 games for the Mets last season, has signed a minor league deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. The catcher received an invite to major league camp.

Catcher Johnson opts for free agency

October, 17, 2012
Catcher Rob Johnson has been removed from the Mets' 40-man roster. After clearing waivers, he elected free agency.

Johnson's departure and the free agency of Kelly Shoppach leave Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas as the only major league-capable catchers under the organization's control at this point. The Mets will consider re-signing Shoppach because his likely 2013 salary would match the organization's spending capability, but team officials were not enamored with Shoppach and are first expected to investigate other options.

Johnson finished the season on the DL with a torn ligament in his left thumb, which did not require surgery.

Mets expect Thole to be arbitration eligible

October, 16, 2012
The official calculation from Major League Baseball has not yet been shared with clubs, but the Mets do expect the collective bargaining agreement that went into effect for the 2012 season to result in Josh Thole being eligible for arbitration by a matter of days.

Players automatically are eligible for arbitration after three years of major league service time (and are free agents after six years of major league service time).

In addition, a select group of players with two-plus years service time -- known as Super Twos -- also are eligible for arbitration. That does not make them eligible for free agency earlier; it means they have four arbitration years instead of three.

Thole -- who has 2 years, 142 days of service time -- will make the cut, the Mets fully expect. So will Ike Davis at 2 years, 168 days.

The percentage of players with two-plus years of service time who are eligible for arbitration went to 22 percent from 17 percent under the new CBA.

The full list of arbitration-eligible Mets:

Manny Acosta
Rob Johnson
Fred Lewis
Daniel Murphy
Bobby Parnell
Mike Pelfrey
Andres Torres

Pelfrey and Torres (and possibly Acosta) are expected to be non-tendered in December, making them free agents.

The minimum salary in 2013 is $490,000. Thole's eligibility for arbitration means he may make $700,000 or $800,000 -- or more -- rather than a figure solely decided by the team close to the minimum.

Other Mets -- including Justin Turner, Ruben Tejada and Lucas Duda -- are not yet be eligible for arbitration this winter.

Mets morning briefing 9.4.12

September, 4, 2012
Collin McHugh's second major league start lasted only four innings, with McHugh surrendering four runs. The drama, though, came late. With the Mets trailing by a run in the ninth, Andres Torres seemingly led off with a double. But at the instruction of injured ex-Met Carlos Beltran, the St. Louis Cardinals successfully appealed to rookie ump Dave Rackley that Torres missed the first-base bag. The Mets, deprived of the baserunner, lost shortly thereafter, 5-4, on Monday afternoon at Busch Stadium.

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press
Daniel Murphy jaws at first base ump Dave Rackley after the final out.

Two-run homers by Kelly Shoppach and Daniel Murphy had clawed the Mets within a run. Despite only 33 at-bats as a Met, Shoppach now has three homers with the club, more than the combined total of Josh Thole (one), Mike Nickeas (one) and Rob Johnson (none). Murphy, meanwhile, produced his first extra-base hit in his past 22 games (18 starts).

Rackley and crew chief Dale Scott stood by the call, despite vehement protest from the Mets. The crew noted neither Torres nor first base coach Tom Goodwin initially complained about the call.

Rackley told Terry Collins he would not have made the ruling had he not been positive it was correct.

"He went over the front corner with his toe and it just kicked dirt up onto the base," Rackley said.

Said Scott after reviewing the video with his crew: "It was exactly what [Rackley] described. His foot went over [the bag], the toes hit the ground, the heel never did [hit the bag]. And did you see where [Rackley] was? He was right there to make the call."

Countered Murphy: "We had access to video. I'm sure you guys did, too. So we know the answer to that."

Now, Matt Harvey makes potentially his second-to-last start of 2012 in Game 2 of the series, tonight at 8:15. Harvey, whose innings cap will be reached with two to three more starts, opposes left-hander Jaime Garcia (3-6, 4.52 ERA).

Tuesday's news reports:

• Read game recaps in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Times, Record, Star-Ledger, Newsday, Daily News and Post.

Mike Janes/Associated Press
Fred Lewis, 31, has been rewarded for a solid season at Buffalo with a September call-up.

• With Buffalo's season complete, the Mets have summoned six additional minor leaguers to St. Louis: Jordany Valdespin, right-handers Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia and Elvin Ramirez, left-hander Justin Hampson and outfielder Fred Lewis. Buffalo manager Wally Backman is due to join the Mets on Sunday. Zach Lutz, Nickeas and McHugh already had been added -- giving the Mets nine extra players in total.

Dillon Gee joined the Mets in St. Louis. He already has been cleared to begin tossing a baseball following surgery to repair a damaged artery in his pitching shoulder.

Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger reviews Harvey's early success, including the influence of former major league pitcher Don Carman on the mental side of the rookie's game.

"Sometimes in the minors, it was, 'I have to get this guy out. I have to go seven innings, eight innings, and completely dominate this game in order to get to the big leagues,'" Harvey said, according to Brian Costa in the Journal, while constrasting minor league struggles with major league success. "Whereas here, it's, 'I have to win.'"

Read about Harvey's impending shutdown after two to three more starts in the Post.

Stephen Strasburg's final start of the season will be Sept. 12 against the Mets at Citi Field.

• Buffalo was rained out at Lehigh Valley on Monday in what is expected to be its final game affiliated with the Mets. Las Vegas has been widely speculated as the Mets' next Triple-A home, but a minor league source said do not rule out Nashville over Las Vegas if the Mets have a choice between those markets. The Brewers currently are affiliated with Nashville and may re-up, though. Meanwhile, Brooklyn sliced its magic number to one with two games remaining to clinch the New York-Penn League's wild card. Like Buffalo, Binghamton and Savannah completed their seasons Monday. St. Lucie opens the Florida State League playoffs tonight at Jupiter. Read the full minor league recap here.

TRIVIA: Who preceded Tony La Russa as Cardinals manager?

Monday's answer: Jason Bay's first grand slam as a Met came on June 28, 2011 at Detroit. He and Beltran both had slams that day as the Mets snapped a historic streak in which their opponents had hit an MLB-record 18 consecutive unanswered slams.

Mets morning briefing 8.24.12

August, 24, 2012
Collin McHugh tossed seven scoreless innings in his major league debut, but Jordany Valdespin misplayed a fly ball in center field in the eighth into a triple and the Mets ultimately lost to Colorado, 1-0, Thursday afternoon at Citi Field. The Rockies swept a four-game series in Queens for the second straight season.

The Astros, the only team with a worse record than the Mets since the All-Star break, now visit for a weekend series. The Mets will wear blue "Los Mets" jerseys on Merengue Night today as Jon Niese (10-6, 3.82 ERA) opposes right-hander Jordan Lyles (2-10, 5.70) in the 7:10 p.m. series opener.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Jordany Valdespin stole second base in the first inning Thursday, but had difficulty in the outfield late.

“When you’re in a slump, it doesn’t matter what the record of the other team is,” Terry Collins said. “We can attest to that in some of the places we’ve gone, where obviously we’ve been out-manned and played much better than the other team.”

The Mets will need to make a roster move pregame for the expected activation of Jeremy Hefner after a three-day paternity-leave absence for the birth of his daughter, Jaylee Grace, in Oklahoma.

Friday's news reports:

• After catching McHugh's solid major league debut, Josh Thole said the comparisons are valid between the rookie and Dillon Gee. “I can’t go out there every time and throw 93 mph,” McHugh said. “Being able to locate a pitch at 86 or 89 or whatever is as effective, if not more so, for me than trying to just blow a fastball by a guy.” Unfortunately for McHugh, he received a no-decision in the 1-0 loss to Colorado. Read game recaps in the Times, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Post, Daily News, Journal and Record.

• Collins plans to start Justin Turner over Daniel Murphy at second base for the next few days.

Rob Johnson's demotion has been rescinded and he instead has been placed on the disabled list with a season-ending thumb injury. The Mets were unable to send Johnson to the minors because the catcher's sidelining injury occurred while he was a major leaguer.

Logan Verrett pitched a complete-game three-hitter in St. Lucie's 8-1 win in Game 2 of a doubleheader against Jupiter, while Miller Diaz tossed six scoreless innings for Kingsport against Bluefield. Read Thursday's full minor league recap here.

Gabby Douglas threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Citi Field before the series finale against Colorado. Read more in Newsday and the Daily News.

TRIVIA: Who threw the pitch behind Roger Clemens at Shea Stadium when the Rocket finally batted against the Mets on June 15, 2002?

Thursday's answer: Second baseman Jose Altuve represented the Astros in the All-Star Game.

Johnson demotion voided, placed on DL

August, 23, 2012
Not new, but slipped under the radar: Catcher Rob Johnson's demotion to Triple-A Buffalo was voided and he instead landed on the major league DL with a torn ligament in his left thumb. Johnson will not require surgery, but he is being prescribed six weeks off, which essentially makes the injury season-ending.

So if the Mets need 40-man roster spots freed for September call-ups, Johnson as well as Tim Byrdak and Johan Santana would be candidates to transfer from the 15-day DL to 60-day DL (where they would not count against the 40-man roster). Dillon Gee already is on the 60-day DL.

Collin McHugh's addition Thursday puts the Mets' 40-man roster at a full 40.

Johnson, incidentally, will remain under the Mets' control as an arbitration-eligible player this offseason assuming the Mets do not cut him loose.

• Terry Collins essentially said his insertion of Jordany Valdespin in the leadoff spot is just trying to shake things up. "Obviously we are doing anything we can to come up with to get this offense kick-started," the manager said. Of course, Valdespin has a .276 on-base percentage and has struck out 34 times in 156 at-bats. All but four of Tejada's previous starts this season had been in either the No. 1 or 2 slots in the order.

Jeremy Hefner's paternity leave, which can be a maximum of three days, is due to expire after today's game. As a result, the Mets will need to make a roster move before Friday's series opener to free a 25-man roster spot.

• Collins reiterated he expects Jenrry Mejia to appear at some point as a starter with the Mets in September. With Triple-A Buffalo, Mejia has produced a 1.12 ERA as a starting pitcher and 5.48 ERA as a reliever this season. "He was most comfortable this year starting, and he's shown the results of that," Collins said.

• Santana is not expected to begin throwing until mid-January 2013. This past year, he started throwing six weeks earlier than normal, about Dec. 15, because he was rehabbing from shoulder surgery.

Mets morning briefing 8.16.12

August, 16, 2012

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Mike Leake pitched a complete game against the Mets on Wednesday.

A bracelet-deprived R.A. Dickey surrendered consecutive fourth-inning homers to Scott Rolen and Todd Frazier (a 474-foot shot), then a long ball to Jay Bruce in the sixth and the Reds beat the Mets, 6-1, Wednesday night at Great American Ball Park. The three homers matched the most surrendered by Dickey as a Met and deprived him of win No. 16.

Mike Leake became the third pitcher to toss a complete game against the Mets this season, joining Toronto's Brandon Morrow and Atlanta's Paul Maholm.

The Mets dropped a season-worst seven games under .500.

Now, Matt Harvey (1-3, 3.63 ERA) takes the mound tonight trying to arrest a personal three-game losing streak and help the Mets avoid a sweep. He opposes right-hander Homer Bailey (10-7, 4.08).

The Mets have not been swept in Cincinnati since the season-opening series in 2005, when stopgap closer Braden Looper blew Pedro Martinez's debut with the organization on Opening Day by serving up consecutive ninth-inning homers to Adam Dunn and Joe Randa.

Thursday's news reports:

• Plate umpire James Hoye, supported by crew chief Jim Joyce, instructed Dickey to remove a pair a bracelets from the wrist of his glove hand during the second inning. Dickey said the bracelets had been made by his daughters before his offseason climb of Mount Kilimanjaro, and that he had worn the jewelry since January. Trainer Ray Ramirez had to be cut the bracelets because they were homemade and did not have fasteners. Dickey admitted being angry in the moment, but downplayed the significance on his performance -- even though Terry Collins said pitchers loathe changes to their patterns and suggested it may have affected the knuckleballer.

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Crew chief Jim Joyce offers further explanation to R.A. Dickey about his bracelet removal before the start of the bottom of the third inning.

Dickey said umps told him during a delay when he took the mound the following inning -- which he did not appreciate, either -- that the directive came from Major League Baseball's uniform police, not the Reds or even the crew itself. Collins and Dickey found the timing curious, since it is already August and he had worn the bracelets all season without issue. Dickey said there are jewelry and other assorted violations across baseball, and likened the enforcement to a holding penalty in football -- that it can be enforced on any play. (Case in point: Check Felix Hernandez's left wrist in this photo after completing the final out of his perfect game Wednesday in Seattle.)

This wasn't the first time a bracelet had become an issue in a Mets game. Nine years ago, Jae Weong Seo became unnerved when Braves manager Bobby Cox convinced umps to force him to remove a Buddhist bracelet. Seo immediately surrendered a homer to Andruw Jones in that May 25, 2003 game at Turner Field.

Joyce told Mark Hale in the Post after Wednesday's game: "You cannot wear anything on either hand, bracelet-type or anything like that." Told Dickey had worn it all season, Joyce added: "Tonight we saw it, this crew saw it, and we just asked him to take it off."

• Collins predicted he would go with a different lineup look Thursday, although there is a limit to how much maneuverability the manager has. Options include Kelly Shoppach's Mets debut, Justin Turner getting a start, Jason Bay in the lineup (he has two doubles in three career at-bats against Bailey) or a call-up such as Lucas Duda. Meanwhile, Josh Thole had a franchise-record three passed balls last night.

Read game recaps in the Star-Ledger, Newsday, Record, Times and Daily News.

• The Mets will utilize a six-man rotation beginning Sunday, when Jeremy Hefner starts in D.C. Exempt from the arrangement is Dickey, who will continue to pitch every fifth game. So after Hefner, Dickey should come back on standard rest Monday for the series opener against Colorado at Citi Field, followed by Chris Young on Tuesday and Harvey on Wednesday.

The system should allow Harvey to reach the end of the season without exceeding his front-office-imposed 170-inning limit. It also should give Johan Santana and Young needed extra rest in their first seasons back from shoulder surgery. And Jon Niese has performed dramatically better this season with extra rest between starts.

Analyst Bobby Ojeda on SNY found the timing of the six-man-rotation implementation curious. Ojeda suggested September, after rosters expand, might be more appropriate. Ojeda also linked the bracelet and six-man rotation issues. His point: Collins noted pitchers are creatures of habit when discussing the bracelet issue, but yet is implementing a pitching schedule that could disrupt their sacred between-starts routines.

Read more in the Star-Ledger and Post.

• Shoppach, assigned No. 6, joined his new teammates Wednesday. Rob Johnson was demoted to Buffalo to clear the roster spot. Shoppach actually has caught a knuckleballer before. He rose through the minors in the Red Sox organization with knuckleballer Charlie Zink, plus had limited exposure in spring-training camp in 2005 to Tim Wakefield. Collins said he intends to pair Thole with Dickey, but that could be revisited. Red Sox bullpen coach Gary Tuck gave Shoppach a refresher lesson on catching the knuckleball once they learned he was headed to the Mets. Read more in Newsday, the Star-Ledger and the Daily News.

Paul Bereswill/Getty Images
Citi Field hosted an Ecuador-Chile soccer match on Wednesday night. Pictured, Luis Fernando Saritama (19) of Ecuador tries to stop Eduardo Vargas (11) of Chile.

• With the Mets away, Citi Field hosted soccer Wednesday night. Ecuador beat Chile, 3-0. The crowd on the rainy night was announced at 31,901.

• Former Red Sox first-round pick Craig Hansen, who last had appeared in a professional game in 2010 with the Pirates in the minors, surfaced with Brooklyn on Wednesday. Hansen, a St. John's product selected 26th overall in 2005, allowed one run on three hits and a walk in the eighth inning of the Cyclones' 6-2 loss at Tri-City. His contract keeps him under the Mets' control for 2013. Brian Harrison went 3-for-4 with three RBIs in Savannah's 8-2 win against Lexington. Erik Goeddel tossed seven scoreless innings for St. Lucie. Read Wednesday's full minor league recap here.

TRIVIA: Who started for the Reds at pitcher opposite Pedro on Opening Day in 2005 in Cincinnati?

Wednesday's answer: Shoppach made his major league debut with the Red Sox on May 28, 2005 -- four years after being drafted by the organization out of Baylor. He was traded to Cleveland on Jan. 27, 2006 in the deal that landed Coco Crisp in Boston and subsequently played for the Rays before re-signing with Boston as a free agent last offseason.

Johnson demoted to clear roster spot

August, 15, 2012
The Mets optioned Rob Johnson to Triple-A Buffalo before Wednesday's game in Cincinnati, clearing a 25-man roster spot for the activation of Kelly Shoppach, who was acquired from Boston on Tuesday for a player to be named.

Johnson is hitting .250 with four RBIs in 52 at-bats at the major league level this season. He also tossed a scoreless inning at Toronto.

Rosters expand Sept. 1, so Johnson potentially could return at that point.

Shoppach will wear No. 6.

Mets morning briefing 8.15.12

August, 15, 2012
Josh Edgin inherited a pair of runners from Manny Acosta and served up a game-ending three-run homer to Jay Bruce as the Mets lost the opener of a six-game trip, 3-0 to Cincinnati on Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park. The teams combined to leave 24 runners on base entering the bottom of the ninth. The Mets again dropped to a season-low six games under .500. They have been shut out in three of their past six games.

R.A. Dickey bids for his 16th win tonight. He opposes right-hander Mike Leake (4-7, 4.51 ERA).

Wednesday's news reports:

Sandy Alderson told Brian Costa in the Journal he had not yet conversed with ownership regarding precisely where the Mets' 2013 payroll will be set. It's hard to envision the Mets' spending freely this offseason. Home attendance, in terms of raw numbers, is down nearly 1,300 per game. And prices seemingly have been discounted. Yet the Mets only have a salary commitment to Jon Niese beyond the 2013 season. So, technically, as long as the Mets offer a free agent a low base salary in Year 1, they should be able to enter the market this offseason, even if the line is held on payroll. The more interesting question may be whether, even if Alderson had that inclination, he would ever be the winning bidder for a big-time free agent. After all, Alderson appears conservative in his willingness to commit significant years, so there may always be another bidder with a more generous offer.

William Perlman/US Presswire
Sandy Alderson said he had not received a 2013 payroll from owner Fred Wilpon.

Officially, Alderson told Costa regarding next year's payroll: "I haven't had any conversations with ownership about it. I'm still focused on 2012, as is the rest of the front office. Over the next several weeks, that focus will shift, but it really hasn't yet."

Regarding David Wright, who is under the team's control for 2013 through an option, Alderson told Costa he is more confident of retaining him than he was about Jose Reyes remaining. Still, the GM said in lawyer-like fashion: "I think he would like to stay in New York, not to the exclusion of all other considerations. And I think there's a willingness on our part to accommodate that."

Regarding Dickey, for whom the Mets also have a 2013 option, Alderson said: "That depends on what R.A. wants to do. I've told him personally I think he's part of our long-term solution and we'd like to have him here beyond next year."

Alderson complimented Terry Collins' performance, but the manager's option already has been picked up for 2013, and the GM said he had not yet put thought into an extension beyond that. "Terry's done a great job again this year, and I'm very happy with the job he's done and the working relationship he's had," Alderson said. "That's something we'll consider a little bit into the future."

Collins told Mark Hale in the Post about getting security beyond 2013: “If I deserve an extension, I think I’ll get one. If not, I won’t. That stuff, it hasn’t even crossed my mind, to be honest.”

Rob Tringali/Getty Images
Catcher Kelly Shoppach was acquired from the Red Sox on Tuesday.

• The Mets acquired righty-hitting catcher Kelly Shoppach from the Red Sox for a player to be named after putting in a waiver claim. Shoppach is due to be activated for Wednesday's game against Cincinnati, with Rob Johnson seemingly ticketed for Triple-A Buffalo, at least until rosters expand Sept. 1. Shoppach, who is earning $1.135 million this season, is due to be a free agent after the season, so the addition gives the Mets a temporary, up-close look at him to determine his worthiness to sign as Josh Thole's complement for 2013. Collins expects a platoon with the lefty-hitting Thole.

“He’s going to catch certainly against the left-handers. That’s one of the reasons why we got him,” Collins said. “I know one of the reasons we want to take a look at him the last six weeks here is to see how he’ll fit.”

Read more in the Star-Ledger, Newsday, Post, Daily News and Times.

• At Citi Field, Ecuador faces Chile in a soccer match tonight.

As for this week's Post report that a Major League Soccer expansion team is slated to play in a stadium to be constructed at Flushing Meadows Corona Park adjacent to Citi Field, Fred Wilpon and family are not believed to be part of any ownership group -- at least if MLS already has identified owners for the prospective addition to the league.

• Wright went 0-for-3 with a walk Tuesday and is now hitting .248 with five homers in 30 games since the All-Star break. Collins reiterated after Tuesday's loss that the offense is entirely too dependent on Wright. Wright told Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger: "You’re bound to go through a period like I’ve been going through, where you just feel a little bit uncomfortable, a little bit out of sync. I’ve been just searching to get back to where I feel comfortable. I think some of it’s fatigue. I think some of it’s just what happens.”

• Brooklyn Cyclones pitchers Luis Mateo, John Mincone, Hansel Robles and Gabriel Ynoa combined to toss 3 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing two hits while striking out six, as the NL beat the AL, 8-1, in Tuesday's New York-Penn League All-Star Game. Mincone, who struck out both batters he faced, was credited with the win.

Jeurys Familia tossed seven scoreless innings and combined with Robert Carson on a shutout and Matt den Dekker produced a grand slam as Buffalo beat Pawtucket, 6-0. It was den Dekker's second grand slam with the Bisons. He also had one Aug. 6. "I don't think I've had a grand slam in pro ball before that, so it's kind of crazy it happened in a matter of 10 days," den Dekker said. Read Tuesday's full minor league recap here.

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Jay Bruce gets a pie to the face from starting pitcher Mat Latos after delivering a walk-off homer.

• Young became the first Mets pitcher with a 12-baserunner, no-run start since Bobby Jones against the Braves in 1996, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He ultimately was credited with 5 2/3 scoreless innings after Ramon Ramirez entered and retired Drew Stubbs on a groundout to strand the bases loaded. Read game recaps in the Times, Newsday, Record, Daily News and Post.

• Collins reiterated Tuesday he likely will implement a six-man rotation down the stretch and utilize Jeremy Hefner in a starting role. The rationale: Johan Santana and Young can use extra rest between starts returning from shoulder surgery. Matt Harvey is approaching the soft innings cap Alderson had identified. And Niese performs better with an extra day anyway. Harvey currently has logged 132 1/3 innings between Buffalo and the majors, with the GM saying 170 innings is a logical limit. Niese has a 5.49 ERA on standard rest, a 2.53 ERA with one extra day, and a 1.80 ERA with two-plus days of extra rest between starts.

• Left-hander Garrett Olson cleared waivers and was outrighted to Buffalo. Olson lost his roster spot when Santana was activated from the disabled list Saturday.

Dillon Gee believes he will be cleared to begin throwing during a scheduled Aug. 24 exam in St. Louis with the medical team that performed the surgery to repair a damaged artery in his pitching shoulder. Gee does not expect to return this season.

Mike Pelfrey, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery performed on May 1, is scheduled to begin tossing a baseball Tuesday. Pelfrey is expected to be cut loose in December. Otherwise, the Mets would be responsible for paying him at least $4.55 million -- 80 percent of this year's salary.

• The Mets are partnering with the Red Cross to host a blood drive in the Caesars Club at Citi Field on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Donors will receive two free tickets to the Sept. 17 game between the Mets and Phillies. Appointments can be made in advance by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or by visiting Use Reference Sponsor Code "16064nyp."

TRIVIA: With which team did Shoppach make his major league debut?

Tuesday's answer: The Tigers selected Cameron Maybin and the Pirates selected Andrew McCutchen with the two first-round picks between the Mets' Pelfrey (No. 9 overall) and the Reds' Bruce (No. 12) in 2005.

Mets acquire Shoppach from Red Sox

August, 14, 2012
The Mets have acquired righty-hitting catcher Kelly Shoppach from the Red Sox for a player to be named later after placing a waiver claim on him.

Shoppach, 32, hit .250 (35-for-140) with five homers and 17 RBIs in 48 games with Boston this season.

He is due to be a free agent after the season. So, presumably, the Mets will attempt to re-sign him this offseason -- or, at least, get an up-close look in the interim to gauge the worthiness for such a commitment as Josh Thole's 2013 complement.

Rob Johnson currently is serving as Thole's righty-hitting complement, but would now seem ticketed for Buffalo at least until rosters expand Sept. 1. Shoppach is unlikely to join the team until Wednesday.

Johnson and Mike Nickeas have hit a combined .196 (30-for-153) with one homer and 17 RBIs this season. Shoppach is a career .270 hitter against left-handed pitching.

Shoppach immediately should become the Mets' best catcher at throwing out runners.

Mets survive in ninth ... barely

August, 13, 2012
This wasn't exactly what Sandy Alderson intended when he devoted his available offseason dollars to the bullpen.

Josh Edgin hit a batter and walked two to load the bases in the ninth. And Frank Francisco issued two more walks to force in a pair of runs, then surrendered a two-run double to Martin Prado.

But Jon Rauch entered and struck out Jason Heyward as the Mets survived for a 6-5 win Sunday night against the Braves.

Terry Collins' reaction to Atlanta's four-run ninth, which came despite only one hit?

"I was very surprised, especially with the score the way it was," Collins said, referring to Jon Niese handing a five-run lead to the bullpen for the final frame. "You've got to attack. You've got to attack the strike zone and make them swing the bat to beat you. Frankie, he hadn't pitched in a while in that situation. It was really tough with the game on the line like that. But it should have never got to that point."

Francisco noted he was working back-to-back days for the first time since returning from the disabled list Aug. 3. He suggested he felt gassed.

"They wore me out a little bit. I'm a little out of shape," the closer said. "I just got tired. ... It's my first time back-to-back since when? A long time. But we got a 'W.' That's the important thing."

Even the game-ending play, with the tying run at third base, was dicey. The strikeout pitch by Rauch -- a slider -- was in the dirt. Catcher Rob Johnson blocked the ball and only by the narrowest of margins threw to first base in time to retire the strikeout victim Heyward.

"The ball is underneath me when I blocked it," Johnson said. "I don't know if you've seen it before, but oftentimes when catchers are getting up, they'll kick the ball off. That's why you have to take your time a little bit, so you don't kick the ball off. If I would have kicked the ball off, then I probably would have faked throwing and had the awareness to get the guy [from third base], because he would have been coming home. But once I got the ball, it was fine."

Said Niese, who was watching in the dugout: "It was tough. I can't sugarcoat that by any means. They got the job done, and that's all that matters. I think we're going to enjoy this win and go after the Reds."

TC reiterates: No health concern with Johan

August, 12, 2012
A day after Johan Santana was charged with eight runs in 1 1/3 innings in his return from the DL, Terry Collins again stated he has no current concern about Santana's health. The manager added that Santana is fully expected to face the Nationals on Friday in D.C., on an extra day of rest because Monday is a team day off.

Collins said he has engaged in no conversations with team brass about shutting down Santana at some point this season in order to maximize the potential for the southpaw to contribute in 2013, when he is due to make $31 million (including a $5.5 million of his 2014 contract).

Collins has not fully ruled out cutting Santana's season short in September, although the manager also has floated using a sixth starter next month to ensure Chris Young and Santana get extra days of rest.

"I'm planning on certainly in five days seeing him back out there," Collins said about Santana.

• Collins indicated he considered starting Jason Bay against Ben Sheets, because Bay has a .400 career average in 30 at-bats against the right-hander (albeit with no meetings in the past four seasons). Still, in an indication the Mets have shifted at least somewhat into evaluations for 2013, Collins said he chose to start Jordany Valdespin in left field to continue to learn the "type of player he's going to be."

Rob Johnson started two of three games in the series against the Braves, but Collins said there has not been a seismic shift in playing time behind the plate. Collins said he's giving Johnson a shot against Sheets because the catcher is 3-for-5 with two homers in his career against the ex-Brewer. A solid performance would lead to more playing time, though, at the expense of Josh Thole.

Rapid Reaction: Braves 4, Mets 0

August, 10, 2012

WHAT IT MEANS: Matt Harvey surrendered a two-run homer to Jason Heyward in the first inning and walked five batters during his outing, but the rookie rallied to retire the final nine batters he faced in his first home start.

Harvey had no margin for error, though. Left-hander Paul Maholm, a trade-deadline acquisition from the Cubs, dominated the Mets as Atlanta won Friday’s series opener, 4-0, at Citi Field.

Maholm limited the Mets to three hits in his fourth career shutout. The southpaw faced the minimum number of batters through five innings. The lone two baserunners during that span -- Ruben Tejada after reaching on a first-inning error and Daniel Murphy after singling the following inning -- were erased with double plays.

It was the second complete-game shutout of the Mets this season. Toronto's Brandon Morrow also performed the feat May 19 at Rogers Centre.

Harvey, after three road starts, took the mound Friday night at Citi Field to Foreigner’s, “Feels Like the First Time.” As promised, he then began firing fastballs, after drifting to other offerings in his previous start in San Diego.

Eight of the nine pitches to leadoff batter Michael Bourn were fastballs. That plate appearance resulted in a walk. The No. 3 hitter Heyward followed with a two-run homer on a 94 mph fastball in the lower-middle portion of the strike zone -- his sweet spot -- during what became a 33-pitch first inning.

The five walks matched the most by Harvey in a professional game. He also walked five with Triple-A Buffalo against Toledo on June 3, although one base on balls in the game against the Tigers’ affiliate was intentional.

After Rob Johnson’s one-out double in the sixth, and with the Mets trailing 2-0 and Harvey’s pitch count at 101, Justin Turner pinch hit for the rookie. Maholm ultimately stranded Johnson at third base.

Harvey’s line: 6 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 3 K, 1 HR.

Harvey was hit in the right thigh with a line-drive comebacker off the bat of Freddie Freeman in the third inning, but remained in the game.

Dan Uggla added a two-run homer in the eighth against Josh Edgin.

OVER & OUT: Tejada’s hitting streak ended at a career-high 14 games when he was retired to end the game. Tejada went 0-for-4.

BAY WATCH: Jason Bay, returning to the lineup for the first time since his severe playing-time reduction with the Braves starting the southpaw Maholm, went 0-for-3 as his average dropped to .152. Bay did smoke a shot to the track in right-center that Bourn ran down.

WHAT’S NEXT: Johan Santana (6-7, 3.98 ERA) returns from the disabled list to oppose right-hander Kris Medlen (2-1, 2.37) on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. Santana likely will be capped at 90 pitches, Terry Collins said.

Pregame notes: Bay, Baxter, Duda and more

August, 8, 2012
Jason Bay is not in the lineup for Wednesday night's game, with righty Nathan Eovaldi starting for the Miami Marlins.

The Mets announced on Tuesday that they were going to begin platooning Bay, meaning he typically won't be in the lineup when the opposing pitcher is right-handed.

The 33-year-old outfielder is hitting .157, with five home runs and 11 RBIs, in 134 at-bats this season. He went 3-for-42 (.071) in his past 14 games.

But Mets manager Terry Collins is still hopeful Bay can make a positive contribution in the final two months of the season.

"We watch him on a daily basis hit balls in the upper deck," Collins said. "It sounds like it might be easy 'cause it’s batting practice, but you gotta supply the power in batting practice, 'cause it’s 60 miles an hour compared to 90 in a game. So we know it’s still in there -- we just gotta somehow get the old swing back, that confidence back, that aggressiveness back, and hopefully we’ll be able to do it in this new role he’s gonna be in."

• In place of Bay, Jordany Valdespin will man left field Wednesday night, with Mike Baxter in right field.

When asked about the outfield configuration, Collins explained that Baxter has played right field more often, and also he believes right field is a little tougher. Valdespin still has very little experience playing the outfield.

Collins also mentioned the possibility of splitting left field duties between Bay and Lucas Duda down the line. Duda is currently with Triple-A Buffalo, trying to work out his swing.

"Swinging better," said Collins, when asked about Duda's progress at Triple-A. "Wally [Backman] told me yesterday that he’s taking much better swings, he’s much quieter at the plate. He had a lot of movement when he went down there -- they said he’s spread himself out a little bit, seems that he’s just squaring up more balls than he did here. Those are all good signs."

In 11 games with the Bisons, Duda is hitting .262, with two home runs and six RBIs. But he has eight hits in his past five games.

In the majors this season, Duda was hitting .241, with 12 home runs and 44 RBIs, but batted just .140 in 43 at-bats in July before being shipped down.

• Backup catcher Rob Johnson, suffering from a bruised right hand, continues to feel better, said Collins. But Collins said he plans to start Josh Thole again on Thursday, even though it's a day game after a night game, since the Mets will be facing the Marlins' righty ace, Josh Johnson.



Daniel Murphy
.297 9 51 69
HRL. Duda 22
RBIL. Duda 66
RD. Murphy 69
OPSL. Duda .830
WB. Colon 11
ERAZ. Wheeler 3.49
SOZ. Wheeler 145