New York Mets: Sandy Koufax

Koufax, Branca visit Citi with Dodgers

April, 23, 2013
Sandy Koufax visited Terry Collins in the home manager's office at Citi Field, but Koufax is now employed by the visitors.

The Hall of Fame pitcher rejoined the Los Angeles Dodgers as a special advisor during the offseason after a prolonged estrangement from the organization. That reunion prompted Koufax this year to snap his streak of annual visits to Mets spring-training camp.

Koufax and Fred Wilpon were high school teammates at Lafayette High School in Brooklyn.

Another ex-Dodger, Ralph Branca, also is at Citi Field on Tuesday. The Dodgers are using the East Coast visit as an opportunity to film the greats for video-board use at Dodger Stadium later this season.

No Koufax at Mets camp this spring

February, 11, 2013

Courtesy Bruce Adler/New York Mets
Sandy Koufax annually had visited Mets camp

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Sandy Koufax, a former high school teammate of Fred Wilpon, won't be making his annual spring-training visits to Mets camp.

Koufax has been hired as a special assistant by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is headed to Arizona on Saturday.

Terry Collins, Guy Conti and their spouses dined with Koufax on Friday.

Mets morning briefing 3.30.12

March, 30, 2012
With six days until Opening Day, the Mets send Dillon Gee to the mound today in Jupiter against the St. Louis Cardinals. Friday also is deadline day for select players around baseball with major league experience who are on minor league contracts. Teams can either tell the players today they have made the major league roster, give them a $100,000 retention bonus to remain with the organization in the minors, or make them free agents. Miguel Batista is the lone player who falls into that category with the Mets. He is expected to receive Option No. 1 -- being awarded a spot in the Mets' bullpen. Batista actually is listed as Saturday's Grapefruit League starter, while Johan Santana instead throws a simulated game in the southpaw's final tuneup for Opening Day against the Atlanta Braves.

Friday's news reports:

• The Mets trimmed their camp size by six players Thursday, sending left-hander Garrett Olson, catchers Rob Johnson and Lucas May, infielder Jordany Valdespin and outfielders Adam Loewen and Matt den Dekker to minor league camp -- den Dekker, actually, for the second time.

The moves cemented Mike Nickeas as Josh Thole's partner behind the plate, and also anointed Mike Baxter the backup lefty-hitting outfielder, barring a late acquisition from outside the organization.

With Olson poised to work in Triple-A Buffalo's rotation, left-handers Daniel Herrera and Josh Edgin remain in camp. But all signs point to Edgin opening the season in Buffalo's bullpen, a nice leap from Class A St. Lucie. Herrera would claim a short-term roster spot assuming Tim Byrdak does, in fact, start the season on the disabled list. Byrdak plans to pitch in a minor league game Saturday, his first time against batters since March 13 surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee. Even if Byrdak landed on the DL, he would only be required to miss the season's first four games (six days, including Wednesday), because of DL backdating rules.

Vinny Rottino also remains in camp, but he only makes the major league team if center fielder Andres Torres is not ready for the season. Team officials are optimistic Torres will now be available on Opening Day. Collins said Torres should hit in a minor league game Friday and may play in a Grapefruit League game Saturday. Pedro Beato and D.J. Carrasco presumably will open the season on the DL, which should secure Batista's spot. Right-hander Chris Schwinden also is in camp, but he is projected to join Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia, Jeremy Hefner and Olson in the Bisons' rotation.

Read more in the Times, Star-Ledger, Daily News, Journal and Record.

David Wright belted a grand slam against ex-teammate Livan Hernandez on a full-count curveball and Mike Pelfrey limited Houston to one run on three hits in 6 1/3 innings as the Mets beat the Astros, 9-1, Thursday night at Digital Domain Park. Read more in the Record and Newsday.

Andy Martino in the Daily News writes the Mets considered releasing Pelfrey in recent days, but quoted a team official saying it was “just what you do in meetings, throwing [stuff] against the wall, and we throw a lot of [stuff] against the wall.” The Mets would have been required to pay Pelfrey 24.6 percent of the $5.6875 million he is owed this year -- 45 days' pay, or $1.4 million. In that scenario, Martino writes, Schwinden could have stepped into the rotation and the money could have been redirected toward the bench. (Commentary: It's sad that money needs to be redirected, and the Mets can't just spend at the level required to put together a competitive bench.) The coaching staff was vehemently against releasing Pelfrey anyway, according to the newspaper.

• The Mets added organizational depth, signing utility infielder Josh Rodriguez to a minor league deal.

• Newsday announced Mets beat writer David Lennon has been promoted to baseball columnist, succeeding Ken Davidoff, who will head to the Post. Lennon covered the Mets since 2002.

• Just because Bobby Parnell flopped in the closer role late last year and the Mets acquired Frank Francisco as closer and Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez to serve as the primary setup men, that doesn't mean Parnell is excluded from late-inning opportunities, Lennon writes in Newsday. "Don't assume anything," pitching coach Dan Warthen said. Still, Terry Collins tells Mike Puma in the Post that Parnell is ticketed for the sixth or seventh inning to start the season, which was the offseason intention. Early roles tend to morph during the season as the result of success and failure, so Parnell quickly could ascend to more integral roles sooner than later with regular-season success regardless of the initial designations.

Parnell has tossed 8 1/3 scoreless Grapefruit League innings. Those other relievers have not been as sharp, although Rauch contributed a scoreless relief inning Thursday.

Parnell thinks a curveball he picked up last season from then-teammate Jason Isringhausen is preventing hitters from sitting on a fastball he's been throwing in the mid-90s mph. The slider he previously relied upon as his secondary pitch did not have as much speed differential with the fastball, so batters could "hunt" the fastball."Throwing in those situations, it wasn't really the pressure of the game but the pressure I put on myself that really was devastating to me," Parnell told Lennon about last year's closing flop. "I'm harder on myself than anybody. I expect a lot out of myself and I didn't perform the way I wanted to. ... But this spring has shown me that sometimes if you just take a step back and relax, look at yourself in a new light, get a new pitch, sometimes it's better to work smarter and not harder." Puma also cites spring-training conversations with Sandy Koufax as helping Parnell.

Jason Bay walked twice Thursday night while going 1-for-2. He is now hitting .229 in 35 spring-training at-bats. He has eight walks, for a .386 on-base percentage, along with 10 strikeouts. He tells Andrew Keh in the Times: "I honestly don’t know what my average is, but I know I don’t have a home run, I know I don’t have an RBI. I know all that. I’m not standing here telling you results don’t matter. But we’ve got a timetable to try to figure things out. That’s what this time is for, and I feel like now I have a pretty good grasp going forward.”

• SNY play-by-play man Gary Cohen forecasts the 2012 season in the Post.

• Another noted expert in MLB finances placed the Mets' value at about $1.5 billion in light of the Dodgers' impending sale for $2 billion. Smith College economics professor Andrew Zimbalist told the Daily News: "It suggests to me that the value of the Mets will increase somewhat as a result, but not to the level of the Dodgers." In valuing the Mets at $500 million less than the Dodgers' sale price, Zimbalist cited the same factor as SportsCorp president Marc Ganis noted to The Dodgers will have open bidding for local TV rights soon, whereas the Mets are locked into SNY.

TRIVIA: Which New York City high school did Beato attend?

Thursday's answer: CC Sabathia is the only pitcher since 2004 to have more strikeouts than Santana. Sabathia has 1,556 during that span, to Santana's 1,479.

Fred Wilpon watches Mets with Koufax

March, 22, 2012

Adam Rubin
Fred Wilpon departs Thursday's game with Sandy Koufax.

Fred Wilpon was accompanied by brother-in-law Saul Katz as well as Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax in the stands behind home plate to watch Thursday afternoon's game against the Houston Astros at Digital Domain Park.

Koufax had been prepared to testify on behalf of his former high school teammate had the clawback lawsuit against Wilpon not been settled.

Mets morning briefing 3.14.12

March, 14, 2012
Dillon Gee was scheduled to pitch in a minor league game to allow Matt Harvey to log Grapefruit League innings against a credible offense in front of team personnel Wednesday. But the plan changed because the Mets did not have the MLB-stipulated minimum number of starting players making the two-and-a-half hour drive to Lakeland. So Gee now is on the bus and the starting pitcher as the Mets play at the Detroit Tigers for the second time in three days. Harvey will pitch in the minor league game.

Before media hit the road, David Wright is expected to speak about the "ultrasound-guided" cortisone shot he received to the left side of his rib cage Monday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York as well as update his status going forward.

Wednesday's news reports:

Terry Collins got agitated when Ruben Tejada was scratched from Tuesday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Hours later, Collins said his frustration upon losing Tejada (groin) and Ronny Cedeno (knee tendinitis) in the same morning is that the absence of players from drills is inhibiting the team's ability to prepare to play fundamentally sound this season. D.J. Carrasco also is out for a limited period after twisting an ankle.

Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post wonders what's going on here with the Mets' perpetual injuries.

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

Carlos Beltran faced the Mets for the first time since last July's trade and went 1-for-4 Tuesday. Beltran was in a chipper mood as he reminisced with New York reporters about his six and a half seasons as a Met and the team's rebuilding plan. Beltran also kept the drama going about when he eventually will pay Jon Niese $10,000 -- the cost of Niese's offseason nose job, which Beltran asked the southpaw to get -- and offered to pay for -- shortly before being traded to the San Francisco Giants last summer. Niese playfully professed not to care about the delinquent payment. Watch video of Beltran's interview here. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday, Times and Daily News.

The Mets, by the way, play the Marlins on Thursday in Jupiter. So there is a decent chance Jose Reyes finally will play against his old team, too. Reyes did not face the Mets in either of the first two Grapefruit League meetings between his present and former teams. Beltran's Cardinals and Reyes' Marlins train at the same Jupiter, Fla., complex. And Beltran said Reyes looks as chipper as always.

"He's like Jose. He’s always happy, always smiling, always playing the game hard," Beltran said. "He’s going to be fine. It’s going to be a transition for him because of all these years playing for the Mets, all these years playing in New York, now going to a new team, [there are] new expectations. I think he’s going to be able to handle that situation well.”

Mike Pelfrey allowed two homers while tossing 4 1/3 innings in the Mets' 7-1 loss to the Cardinals. Read more in Newsday.

Johan Santana threw a between-starts bullpen session Tuesday and pronounced himself fit for his third Grapefruit League start, Friday against the Tigers in Port St. Lucie.

• A team official said the employment status of bullpen catcher Eric Langill, who was arrested Sunday night and charged with driving under the influence, remains unresolved.

• Left-hander Tim Byrdak underwent surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee Tuesday and is expected to miss six weeks.

• As reported late Monday, the trustee suing Fred Wilpon and family has asked a judge to bar Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax as well as former Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau from testifying. Writes Anthony M. Destefano in Newsday:

Judge Jed Rakoff is expected to decide Monday, when the trial is scheduled to begin, if he will allow the testimony over the trustee's opposition. If he testifies, Morgenthau would describe how he put the PAL money into a Madoff account after Wilpon said it was "safe," according to the court papers. Koufax would testify that he opened an account with Madoff at Wilpon's suggestion, court documents stated.

Read more on the witness list and legal wrangling in the Times, Post, Daily News and Star-Ledger.

Barry Meier in the Times looks at the $2.4 million in improvements at the Mets' spring-training home, Digital Domain Park. The upgrades are designed to entice a second team to relocate to the complex. Meier quotes officials saying the Mets would hope to lure the Washington Nationals or Houston Astros to join them at the Port St. Lucie facility. Florida's Atlantic coast has lost teams of late, leaving the Mets constantly facing the same opponents -- the Marlins and Cardinals, who are the nearest at 33 miles away in Jupiter, and the Nats in Viera 72 miles away -- or facing long drives. After those three opponents, all the drives are two-hours-plus. The Dodgers used to be closest to Port St. Lucie, but they bolted Vero Beach for Arizona. And the Orioles left Fort Lauderdale for Sarasota.

TRIVIA: At which university is Mets PR man Jay Horwitz inducted into the Hall of Fame?

Tuesday's answer: Pedro Feliciano set the franchise record for relief appearances three straight seasons -- 86 in 2008, 88 in 2009, then 92 in 2010.

Mets morning briefing 3.13.12

March, 13, 2012
David Wright is due to return to camp today after receiving an "ultrasound-guided" cortisone shot in his troublesome left rib cage Monday in New York at his request. Meanwhile, teammate Tim Byrdak remains at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, where he will undergo surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee. He is due to miss six weeks. On the field, Carlos Beltran visits in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform to face Mike Pelfrey at 1:10 p.m. at Digital Domain Park. Johan Santana, who turns 33 today, should throw a between-starts bullpen session, too.

Tuesday's news reports:

Terry Collins said he believes/hopes Wright will resume baseball activities in the middle to end of the week. Wright was treading water with his left-rib cage issue -- experiencing soreness while neither improving nor worsening. A team official said an MRI revealed no structural damage. A frustrated Wright asked for the cortisone injection.

Sandy Alderson and Collins both said they expect to carry a left-handed reliever on the Opening Day roster, even minus Byrdak. Garrett Olson and Chuck James likely are the front runners. Daniel Herrera and Robert Carson also are in camp, but appear secondary considerations. Then there was this development Monday ...

Late last season, Paul DePodesta advised to watch left-handed reliever Josh Edgin as a rapid riser, despite Edgin not having pitched above Class A. Well, with Byrdak's surgery looming today, Edgin has been moved to major league camp. He blew a save chance in Monday's Grapefruit League game against the Detroit Tigers at Lakeland, but that was after his defense betrayed him on a would-be third out. Edgin then rallied nicely the following inning against Tigers left-handed batters. He previously had recorded a pair of Grapefruit League saves while being borrowed from minor league camp, before the official transfer.

Read more on Byrdak's scheduled surgery as well as Wright's injury in the Daily News, Star-Ledger, Journal, Post, Newsday, Times and Record.

• Bullpen catcher Eric Langill was arrested and charged with driving under the influence with property damage, a misdemeanor, according to a St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office arrest affidavit. Langill allegedly drove into a concrete fountain in the middle of a traffic circle, flipping the vehicle at approximately 11:25 p.m. Sunday. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Post, Record, Daily News and Newsday.

• With jury selection slated to take place Monday and a 10-day civil trial to follow, several motions were filed last night in the $386 million lawsuit against Mets owner Fred Wilpon, his family and businesses. Among the more headline-grabbing items: Trustee Irving Picard's lawyers asked U.S. District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff to bar Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax from testifying on the Wilpons' behalf. Picard's legal team argued that the purpose of Koufax testifying is to influence a jury with star power rather than substance. On the Wilpons' side, Howard Megdal at Capital New York notes defense attorneys have asked the judge to bar the plaintiffs from using the term "other people's money" to describe the Wilpons' gains in the Ponzi scheme, saying that is a loaded term that could improperly influence a jury.

Lucas Duda belted a grand slam in his first game in five days and the Mets and Tigers played to a 7-7 tie in 10 innings.

• Columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News writes that Collins is trying to keep the faith:

No sooner had Collins arrived at Joker Marchant Stadium Monday than he was greeted by his old baseball buddy, Jim Leyland, who put out the welcome mat for him by fielding his "A" lineup featuring all his regulars and especially the Detroit Tigers' new twin pillars of power, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. "Geez," Collins exclaimed to Leyland in mock protest, "I thought we were friends!" In truth, Collins could probably use a good friend like Leyland right about now to unload his troubles on. For, aside from Santana’s steady progress from his career-threatening shoulder injury, most of the news coming out of the Mets camp this spring has been either bad, concerning or downright embarrassing -- and Monday was no different.

Ike Davis tells Dan Martin in the Post that he is having no ill effects from last year's ankle injury or the suspected valley fever. "I can't plan for something I don't know is going to happen," Davis told Martin. "If something happens, I'll talk to Terry, but until then, there's nothing to talk about and I'd like for there to never be a reason to."

• Left-handed pitcher John Mincone, a Huntington, Long Island, native and Half Hollow Hills East High School product, has signed a minor league deal with the Mets. Mincone, 22, was drafted in the 11th round by the Chicago Cubs in 2009 out of Suffolk Community College after an injury-plagued college career. He went 1-2 with a 4.61 ERA in six games (three starts) for Windy City in the independent Frontier League last season.

"I’ve had many high school highlights," Mincone said in this April 2010 interview. "I'd have to say that winning our league championship my senior year and winning the Paul Gibson award are up there on the list, but my best memory is from the summer after my junior year. I made the Long Island baseball team going to compete in the Empire State Games, sort of an 'Olympics' for the state of New York. Our team won the gold medal, going undefeated in the process, marking the first time in 13 years that the Long Island team won a gold medal in baseball.

"As for college, I have two major baseball highlights. When I was at James Madison University my freshman year, we won the Colonial Athletic Association Conference tournament and continued on to play in the NCAA Regionals at NC State. My best college highlight is definitely winning Region XV while at Suffolk County Community College ... and then playing in the NJCAA College World Series in Tyler, Texas. I was named Region XV player of the year (2009) and was a named to the First Team NJCAA All-American, leading the nation with 107 strikeouts in 62 innings pitched, and an ERA of 0.98."

• Ex-Met Jason Pridie, who signed a minor league contract with the Oakland A's during the offseason, officially was suspended 50 games after a second positive test for a drug of abuse, Major League Baseball announced.

• Left-hander C.J. Nitkowski's agent, Tom O'Connell, tells Tyler Kepner in the Times he believes the southpaw will join the Mets organization. "I feel pretty optimistic that we can come to an agreement," O’Connell told Kepner. "Hopefully this will play out in the next couple of days." Newsday previously has reported that an eventual signing is expected.

TRIVIA: What is the Mets' record for relief appearances in a season?

Monday's answer: Mike Jacobs homered in his first at-bat as a Met, which also was his first major league at-bat. He went deep on Aug. 21, 2005 off Washington's Esteban Loaiza as a pinch hitter. That staved off a demotion, and Jacobs went on to belt three more homers within three days.

Trustee wants Koufax barred from trial

March, 12, 2012
Batters did not want to see Sandy Koufax on the mound during the left-hander’s Hall of Fame career.

The trustee suing Fred Wilpon and family for $386 million on behalf of victims of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme does not want to see Koufax in the witness box, either.

In a slew of motions filed Monday night, trustee Irving Picard’s legal team asked that Koufax and three other high-profile figures be barred from testifying for the defense in the 10-day trial set to begin next week.

Courtesy Bruce Adler/New York Mets
Sandy Koufax at Mets camp on Thursday.

The trustee’s motion asks to exclude Koufax as well as former district attorney Robert Morgenthau, North Shore-LIJ Health System president Michael Dowling and First Long Island Investors CEO Robert Rosenthal from testifying for the Wilpons.

Wilpon and Koufax are friends dating to their high school days, when they were baseball teammates. Koufax visited the Mets’ spring-training complex as recently as last week.

“In identifying their expected witnesses, the defendants have disclosed their intentions to call certain of their most prominent acquaintances and philanthropic colleagues at trial,” the trustee’s attorneys wrote in one motion. “There is no other purpose for calling such witnesses except to improperly influence the jury. The expected testimony from the proposed Sterling [Wilpon] witnesses has nothing to do with the only issue to be tried in this case -- defendants’ willful blindness. Not only is such testimony irrelevant, but it is impermissible character and opinion evidence masquerading as testimony from purported fact witnesses.”

U.S. District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff already has awarded up to $83 million to Picard -- the profits collected by the Wilpons and their businesses and charities in the immediate two years before Madoff’s arrest. Picard now seeks at trial an additional $303 million in principal that the Wilpons invested with Madoff. He must prove the Wilpons were “willfully blind” to Madoff’s fraud and that they acted in bad faith with respect to their investments in order for a jury to award that additional sum.

Rakoff has expressed skepticism that Picard can prove that threshold, but he allowed the case to go to trial by rejecting last week a defense motion to toss the lawsuit. Jury selection begins next Monday.

The trustee also asked in a flurry of Monday motions that references to his fees as well as the failure of the Securities and Exchange Commission to detect Madoff’s fraud be barred from being discussed at trial by the defense team.

Wrote Picard’s legal team with respect to his fees: “The trustee anticipates that the defendants will seek to introduce evidence relating to, or otherwise make comments concerning, the fees paid to the trustee and his counsel in an attempt to distract the jury from the trial and otherwise imply that the trustee’s action is solely driven by his fees and those of counsel. All such evidence and any references thereto should be excluded because the fees paid to the trustee and his counsel are not relevant to any issue at trial.

“Indeed, this court rejected the defendants’ attempt to depose the trustee on the fees paid to him, among other matters, because of lack of relevance. Even if such evidence were somehow relevant, any theoretical ‘probative value’ would be substantially outweighed by the danger of unfairly prejudicing the trustee and misleading and confusing the jury about the central issue at trial -- the defendants’ willful blindness to Madoff’s fraud.”

Mets 5, Braves 3: The Matt Harvey Show

March, 9, 2012
Matt Harvey breezed through two perfect innings in relief of Dillon Gee and Matt den Dekker delivered a tiebreaking two-run triple in the eighth as the Mets beat the Braves, 5-3, on Friday at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

The Mets produced three second-inning runs against Randall Delgado, who is the frontrunner over Julio Teheran for the fifth-starter’s spot, with Tim Hudson slated to be sidelined into May following offseason back surgery.

• Harvey retired all six batters he faced -- a sharp contrast from his first Grapefruit League appearance, when he walked three and plunked another among the eight batters he faced.

Teammate Tim Byrdak had advised Harvey recently to tune out opponents’ names and their résumés and just concentrate on making quality pitches, as cliché as that sounds. Harvey nonetheless took that to heart as he faced formidable Braves hitters.

Harvey began his outing by retiring Chipper Jones on a groundout and Eric Hinske on a flare to left field. He then struck out Jason Heyward on a 95 mph fastball above the strike zone in a flawless first frame.

Harvey said earlier in camp that he hoped to use a two-seam fastball (sinker) more this season, and use the four-seam (straight) fastball to go up the ladder and strike out batters, which seemed like the method of attack with Heyward.

“I threw a couple of two-seamers down,” Harvey said. “The last time it was running a little bit too much. Today I was locating well down. I didn’t really mean to go up that high with Heyward. I was trying to go in.”

When Sandy Koufax visited Mets camp Thursday, the Hall of Famer wanted to meet Harvey and fellow top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler. Koufax got a chance to watch Wheeler pitch in a minor league intrasquad game.

He also chatted with Harvey, who was in “disbelief” that Koufax asked for an introduction.

“After I said, ‘It’s an honor to meet you,’ he was like, ‘It’s an honor to meet you,’” Harvey recalled. “He was like, ‘I told Terry [Collins] I wanted to meet you.’ It’s kind of surreal, I guess.”

(Read full post)

Marlins 5, Mets 4: Pelf's sinking feeling

March, 8, 2012

Steve Mitchell/US Presswire
Adam Loewen, manning first base for the Mets, receives a fourth-inning throw as Scott Cousins dives back into first base.
Frank Francisco surrendered the decisive homer to Hanley Ramirez in the fifth and the Jose Reyes-less Miami Marlins beat the Mets, 5-4, on Thursday afternoon at Digital Domain Park.

The Mets loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, but Rob Johnson’s grounder forced out Kirk Nieuwenhuis at the plate and Mike Baxter struck out look as the threat went for naught.

Lucas May had delivered a two-run double and Baxter plated him with an RBI single in a three-run first for the Mets. Adam Loewen added a solo homer.

Matt den Dekker led off the bottom of the ninth with a single, but was called out at second base when Jordany Valdespin struck out and was called for interfering with the catcher’s throw on an attempted steal.

Jon Rauch tossed two no-hit relief innings, while Miguel Batista (1 1/3 innings) and Tim Byrdak (one inning) also had scoreless efforts.

Neither starter was effective.

Mike Pelfrey allowed four runs on six hits and two walks in 2 2/3 innings, including a homer to Austin Kearns. Meanwhile, ex-Cub Carlos Zambrano allowed three runs on three hits and three walks in 1 1/3 innings.

Zambrano was acquired by Miami during the offseason for Chris Volstad. The Marlins are only responsible for $2.5 million in the final year of Zambrano’s five-year, $91.5 million deal.

“I don’t think I did a whole lot right,” Pelfrey said. “I think the biggest thing, early, I didn’t get ahead. It’s kind of hard to pitch behind in the count. The sinker today was moving, but it was almost going sideways instead of down. … Obviously I didn’t make pitches. I know there were times where May wanted a ball away and I missed, way in. He wanted in, and I missed away. The command wasn’t very good today.”

Pitching coach Dan Warthen had instructed Pelfrey to use only his two-seamer (sinker) Thursday to work on it. Warthen did not permit Pelfrey to throw a four-seam (straight) fastball.

“I know sometimes one of the hardest places to put it is away to a right-hander,” Pelfrey said. “I wasn’t able to get it there, so I was kind of limited to throwing it in to righties.”

As for Kearns’ homer, Pelfrey said: “I tried to throw four straight sinkers in. The first two were balls. The next one was high. It wasn’t where I wanted it. And the next one was right down the middle and he hit it.

“I’m not that concerned,” Pelfrey added. “Obviously I need to be better. … I think it’s too early to worry about the results.”

Terry Collins said he did not doubt that Johan Santana would come through Thursday’s bullpen session OK.

“I talked to him yesterday and he felt fine,” Collins said. “So I thought he’d be out there today. Like he said, he was pretty stiff yesterday, which you come to expect -- a little extra adrenaline. I told him, ‘It’s going to be like that each time you go out there. The more you build up, the little bit stiffer you’re going to be.’ But he feels fine. He’s on schedule for Sunday.”

• Collins asked Sandy Koufax to speak with Bobby Parnell during the Hall of Famer’s visit to camp Thursday.

“Bobby’s a power pitcher, and I wanted him to talk to Sandy. He never has,” Collins said. “I asked Sandy, ‘Have you seen Bobby Parnell?’ And Sandy said, ‘Yeah, I’ve seen him a lot on TV.’ So I said, ‘Well, if you get a chance, I’d like you to talk to him.’

“I just wanted Sandy to reassure him that he got hit at one time, or talk about the delivery. when he’s around, you’ve got to make use of him.”

Attuned to the Mets’ system, Koufax requested to meet top pitching prospects Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey. Koufax got to watch Wheeler pitch in a minor league intrasquad game.

“Obviously he saw a great arm off of Zack,” Collins said. “He wanted to talk to [St. Lucie pitching coach] Phil Regan about a couple of things he saw.”

As for Fred Wilpon’s financial situation, longtime-friend Koufax told the Post: “He’s going through tough times, and he’s a good person. He always has been. We’ve been friends for 60-some-odd years and I love him. I just hate to see him go through it."

David Wright (left rib cage) may take some light swings off a batting tee this weekend.

Andres Torres (right glute tightness) may return to the lineup Saturday, Collins said.

Pedro Beato, who is suffering from inflammation in the rotator cuff in his right shoulder, may throw on Sunday to test how he feels.

Mets morning briefing 6.20.11

June, 20, 2011
Jon Niese wasn't sharp and the Mets dropped the rubber game to the Angels, 7-3, on Sunday. After a team off-day, Bob Melvin and Oakland visits Citi Field.

Monday's news reports:

David Wright, who has an exam on Friday, has started modest baseball activities. He tossed a baseball at took limited grounders from his knees Sunday at Citi Field. Read more in Newsday, the Post, Star-Ledger and Record.

• Read game stories in the Times, Post, Record, Star-Ledger, Daily News, Journal and Newsday.

• Newsday's David Lennon notes it's a big week off the field for the Mets as Ike Davis gets his ankle examined Wednesday and Wright sees the doctor Friday.

Chris Capuano continues to get tips from Sandy Koufax.

Tom Seaver offered some advice to Lucas Duda, whose confidence has a tendency to dip, during a weekend visit to Citi Field. "He told me to take it easy, have fun and exhale and remember you're playing a game," Duda said, according to the Daily News. "He said there's a process in baseball. Before you get to step 5, you have to go through 1, 2, 3, and so on."

Jason Bay's modest four-game hitting streak came to an end. Read more in the Post.

BIRTHDAYS: With no notable Mets birthdays today, we note it’s the 40th anniversary of a nifty Mets win -- a three-run comeback in the ninth inning that led to a 7-6 win over the Phillies on this date in 1971. Duffy Dyer won it with a two-run single, making a winner of Tug McGraw. -Mark Simon

View from St. Lucie: Koufax teaching

March, 26, 2011

Adam Rubin
Sandy Koufax works with Chris Capuano on Saturday morning in Port St. Lucie.

Mets morning briefing 2.28.11

February, 28, 2011
Bobby Valentine is interested in buying the Mets. Meanwhile, if you count a win against the University of Michigan, the Mets are 2-0-1 in exhibition play as Bryce Harper and the Nationals are set to visit Port St. Lucie.

On to Monday's news reports:

• No shortage of Oliver Perez performance reviews. David Waldstein in the Times recalls Perez's last game in a Mets uniform, when Jerry Manuel in game No. 162 reluctantly used the southpaw, who then also walked three straight batters and was booed off the field. ... David Lennon in Newsday notes the PA system at ESPN's Wide World of Sports was coincidentally playing "The Twilight Zone" theme. ... Mike Puma in the Post predicts Perez will wind up with the Long Island Ducks. ... Read more in the Daily News, Record and Star-Ledger. ... Terry Collins, by the way, says Perez gets a start in a split-squad game on March 8.

Zachary Levine in the Houston Chronicle gets Collins to reflect on how he has matured since managing the Astros in the '90s, in a piece you ought to read if you're only familiar with tales of the '99 Angels. "You look at that entire team with [Luis] Gonzalez and [Steve] Finley and Scott Servais and Andujar Cedeno and [Doug] Drabek, and we had a good bunch of guys and a good club, and it was really sad when they had to break that up," Collins tells Levine. Also Writes Levine: "Collins' teams finished second all three years in different fashions, enjoying possibly their best shot in 1994 when Bagwell, the unanimous MVP, broke his hand Aug. 10 with the Astros a half-game out. The players' strike ended the season the next day. 'Probably the saddest experience of my life was when that strike hit, because we were really playing well, and it was shut off that fast,' Collins said."

Chipper Jones had plenty of compliments for the Mets on Sunday. He's quoted in the Post saying: "Is Jose Reyes still one of the most dynamic players in the game? If he has a monster year, they are going to score a lot of runs. Is David Wright an MVP candidate year in and year out? Without a doubt. Is Ike Davis one of the best young players in the game? I mean, there are some pieces. There are players over there you can't take a deep breath against. Obviously, not having Johan [Santana] at the beginning is going to hurt. But if they can hang around until he gets back, you never know." As for the comparison of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt to that Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Steve Avery group, Jones opines: "I've heard the comparison kind of thrown about loosely over the years, but this is really the first I feel kind of warrants that comparison. Any one of those four guys for the Phillies can win 20."

• Scratch Mike Repole, the founder of Vitaminwater and chairman of Pirate's Booty Snacks, off the list of potential Mets minority owners, the Wall Street Journal reports. Newsday also quotes Repole.

• Times columnist George Vecsey wonders about the fate of what he calls The House of Wilpon.

R.A. Dickey tells Brian Costa in The Wall Street Journal he made only one significant purchase after signing his two-year, $7.8 million contract with the Mets. Dickey went to an Apple store in his Nashville hometown at 5:30 a.m. and purchased two Verizon iPhones when the store opened 90 minutes later. Costa adds about Dickey's 2010 season: "His fielding-independent pitching mark, which measures performance using only the factors a pitcher can directly control, was 3.65. In other words, he pitched very well, but perhaps not quite as well as his ERA would suggest." To which Dickey responded: "I don't think it was a fluke, but I blame no one who thinks that it is."

Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger goes deeper into Chris Young's statement after Sunday's start that he intends to work on a split-finger fastball during spring training. Young tells McCullough he intended to call Curt Schilling to get insights about the pitch before shoulder woes shelved Young attempting to add a downward look to his repertoire last season. ... Steve Popper in the Record also quotes Young.

• Daily News columnist Bill Madden talks with Josh Thole and Davis about adjustments they have made. Davis indicated he has shortened his swing. Thole tells Madden: "Toward the end of the season, I got a little exposed. I remember in one series in Chicago I swung at four straight sliders in the dirt against different guys. I watched the video and said to myself: 'They know I can't hit it and they're going to keep throwing it.' It took awhile, but I made some adjustments. That's something I'm going to continually have to do. As for the pitchers, it took a while to win their confidence. If I made a mistake calling a pitch, they told me. But, after a while, they came to see that I really do care and that I'll work hard for them. They have to know that I know what I'm doing."

Chris Capuano talks with Bill Whitehead of about working with Sandy Koufax, who then watched the Mets southpaw pitch against the University of Michigan on Sunday. "He's pretty astute and a good observer," Capuano tells Whitehead. "It's pretty special [to work with him]. I just try to take advantage of him while he's here. He's a little bit of a different type of pitcher. He was more of a Ben Sheets in his heyday. Good fastball and good overhand curveball. They said you could hear it coming."

BIRTHDAY: Brian Bannister, who was traded to Kansas City for reliever Ambiorix Burgos in December 2006, turns 30. After going 7-12 with a 6.34 ERA for the Royals last season, Bannister is pitching this year for the Tokyo Giants in Japan. Bannister's father Floyd pitched in that country for the Yakult Swallows in 1990.

Mets morning briefing 2.20.11

February, 20, 2011
It's going to be a long day Sunday for Mets position players. That group has early morning physicals scheduled, and unity-building bowling after work. At some point, Terry Collins will find time to meet with Luis Castillo, too. The first official full-squad workout isn't until Monday. Only five days later, Jenrry Mejia is scheduled to be the starting pitcher on Saturday as the Mets open Grapefruit League play against the Bobby Cox-less Atlanta Braves at Digital Domain Park in Port St. Lucie.

On to the Sunday clips ...

R.A. Dickey is putting his English degree from the University of Tennessee to good use and is writing a memoir, he tells The New York Times' David Waldstein. Dickey informed Sandy Alderson, and assured the GM this won't embarrass anyone but perhaps Dickey himself. "I’ve always been pretty good at journaling, and blessed with a pretty good memory,” Dickey tells Waldstein. “I figured, once I started the knuckleball journey, it was a good place to put some form to it, dating way back to childhood and leading all the way up to this year.” Among the tales to be included: how Dickey, then the father of two, nearly drowned in the Missouri River as the result of a bet.

• With Sandy Koufax first estranged from the Dodgers, and now L.A. gone from its longtime spring-training home in nearby Vero Beach, the Hall of Famer annually makes multiple visits to the Mets' spring-training complex. That included Saturday. He spoke with Chris Capuano, Jon Niese and Chris Young. He also spoke with media and said he feels badly for high school chum Fred Wilpon, who recommended Koufax invest with Bernard Madoff. "I just hate to see him being beat up this way," Koufax said. "I don't know a kinder, more generous, compassionate human being than Fred." Read the account of Koufax's visit in the Daily News, Star-Ledger, the Times and Newsday.

• I get the strong sense Carlos Beltran will wind up in right field in the not-too-distant future. Here are the news stories in Newsday, the Star-Ledger, Daily News, the Record and Post.

• Beltran is entering the final season of a seven year, $119 million deal, and only David Wright and Jose Reyes have more seniority as Mets. I still remember Beltran's initial press conference upon arriving at his first Mets camp on Feb. 21, 2005 -- when Beltran was talking about his reverance for Bernie Williams, a hero on his native island of Puerto Rico. Reminded that Williams had four championship rings with the Yankees, Beltran had playfully replied: "We hope in the seven years I'm here that we can get five. I look up to Bernie a lot. He has done a lot in New York for the Yankees. I've just got to say that I will do my part." ... Post columnist Mike Vaccaro writes today about Beltran's Mets legacy, which perhaps will be defined by that called third strike on the curveball from Adam Wainwright in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. Writes Vaccaro: "Six years into that seven-year deal, Beltran has seen every angle of baseball in New York, every side and flip side that playing here can invite. He has been a bust and an MVP candidate. He has been the most popular jersey and the most popular target. He has played breathtaking baseball when healthy, and seen whole stretches of his prime wasted to injury."

• Meanwhile, Daily News columnist John Harper speculates Beltran's agent, Scott Boras, may have advised his client that right field will make him more marketable when he's a free agent next offseason. Writes Harper: "Switch-hitting center fielders with speed and power may be the rarest of commodities, but if Beltran's knee is going to be an issue, Boras may feel Beltran will be more marketable as a corner outfielder, saving some wear and tear on his legs that might help him put up bigger offensive numbers. Not that you should dismiss Beltran's claim that he wants to do right thing for the ballclub -- that 'this is not about Carlos, it's about the team,' as he put it Saturday."

• Newsday columnist Ken Davidoff asked Alderson is he would document the legitimacy of closer Francisco Rodriguez's usage throughout the year to have a defense ready in case K-Rod falls shy of 55 games finished and files a grievance over irregular usage. K-Rod's contract vests for 2012 at $17.5 million if he finishes 55 games. Otherwise, the Mets are responsible for a $3.5 million buyout in addition to his $11.5 million salary this year. "I've been in situations with vesting options before. I haven't done anything in the way of documentation," Alderson told Davidoff. "It's not in my experience, but it's only one man's experience." Davidoff cites one example of a grievance over a team allegedly altering usage to avoid an option kicking in. Dennis Lamp lost his claim that the Toronto Blue Jays "excessively rested him to avoid paying a $600,000 vesting option for 1987," according to Davidoff. ... You may recall the Mets cutting Alex Cora before his $2 million vesting option kicked in for 2011. Cora never did file a grievance, even if the Mets were motivated by avoiding the option kicking in, because the organization could justify the release on the grounds of subpar play.

Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger discusses what it's like to face the 6-foot-10 Young, and how the Princeton University product uses his height to make an 87 mph fastball look like 93 mph because he is releasing the ball closer to the plate. "He doesn't throw the ball that hard," Reyes tells McCullough, "but the ball gets to you quickly." McCullough tracks down Dr. Glenn Fleisig at the Birmingham, Ala., lab where Rick Peterson used to send Mets pitchers for biomechanical analysis. Fleisig notes elite pitchers' strides to the plate are 82 percent of their height -- or 67.24 inches if Young hits that percentage. He also talks to Princeton coach and former major leaguer Scott Bradley,who couldn't believe how fluid Young's motion was for a big man while recruiting him. Young does have what McCullough calls "an extreme propensity for fly balls." In his last two healthy, full seasons, in 2006 and '07, Young led the majors in baseballs in the air.

• McCullough also interviews left-hander Taylor Tankersley about pitching, music and naming his soon-to-be-born son Huck. Tankersley says of the name: "Brad Paisley has that song, 'If He’s Anything Like Me,' which is about his son. So I asked 'What’s his son’s name?' And they said, 'Huck.' And I was like 'Oh, wow. That’s pretty cool.'"

• As for Castillo's failure to arrive early, I say lay off him, while Steve Popper in the Bergen Record asserts Castillo isn't helping his cause.

Anthony Rieber in Newsday tried to interview 80-year-old former Mets chairman of the board Lorinda de Roulet, who adamantly maintained in October 1979 the Mets were not for sale, then put up the team for sale a month later. Rieber was rebuffed, but rallied by reaching Joe Torre while exploring the parallels to the present. "You pretty much knew the hand you were dealt," Torre, who managed the Mets at the time, told Rieber about the constraints. "You knew you weren't going to spend any money because there were restrictions . . . We were miles behind where the Yankees were, basically."

• On the out-of-town newsstand, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reviews speedy ex-Met Carlos Gomez, who used to beat Reyes in races while training in the offseason in the Dominican Republic. Gomez has new life in Milwaukee with starting center fielder Lorenzo Cain sent to Kansas City in the Zack Greinke deal. Writes Haudricourt: "Gomez has frustrated a few hitting coaches, including the Brewers' Dale Sveum, with his undisciplined approach at the plate. Last season, in 319 plate appearances, he walked only 17 times while striking out 72 times."

• Columnist Phil Mushnick in the Post gives the prosecution argument against the Wilpons in the Madoff affair.

Anthony McCarron in the Daily News catches up with Frank Viola, who rejoins the organization as Brooklyn's pitching coach. The East Meadow, L.I., native recalls going to Eisenhower Park and listening to Jerry Koosman advise young pitchers not yet to attempt a curveball. Viola's post-pitching resume includes coaching high school baseball in Orlando. "I think the difference between a kid staying in A-ball and getting farther is the mental part of the game," Viola tells Martino. "That's the strength of what I bring to the table. The stuff I went through going up to the big leagues, kids just don't think of any that. If you can get insight from someone who's been through it, it helps." Says Paul DePodesta: "There's a real passion there. The idea of working in Brooklyn, and having that age player -- from 18 to 22 or 23 -- he really felt was in his wheelhouse. That's not something you always hear from prospective coaches, that they want to work with that level. Despite everything he accomplished as a player, he's a humble guy."

Mike Lupica in the Daily News opines about Collins. "I make it a point to try to talk to everybody in the room at least once a day," Collins tells Lupica. "I've been paying attention to things that different guys have said through the winter. And just about all of them have been saying the right things. But now is the time to put actions to those words. My message? We own this, for all the talking that people want to do about our real owners. We own this season. Everybody knows the Mets have been down. It's time to get back up."

BIRTHDAYS: Nationals Opening Day starter and ex-Met Livan Hernandez officially turns 36, although he can't keep a straight face while claiming it. ... Shane Spencer, from the halcyon old days when a big Mets controversy was urinating in front of Big Apple Pizza in Port St. Lucie and tangling with a deliveryman, turns 39.

Video: Koufax at camp

February, 19, 2011
Sandy Koufax speaks with reporters about his association with Bernard Madoff via Fred Wilpon as well as his 30-year relationship with Terry Collins and how Chris Capuano and other pitchers wanted to meet him.

Koufax doesn't blame Fred for advice

February, 19, 2011
Sandy Koufax acknowledged New York Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon recommended he invest with Bernard Madoff, but the Hall of Fame pitcher holds no grudge.

Koufax visited Mets camp Saturday morning and warmly embraced Wilpon, his teammate at Lafayette High School in the Brooklyn nearly six decades ago.

“We’ve been friends for almost 60 years -- or over 60 years, I hate to admit that,” Koufax said. “I hate to see him be beat up this way. I don’t know a kinder, more generous, more compassionate human being than Fred. I was part of that investment. And I think if Fred knew it was going to be a bad investment, he never would have told me, ‘Put money in it.’ That’s it. I hate to see what he’s going throw. It bothers him.”

While Wilpon faces a $1 billion lawsuit from the trustee trying to recover funds for Madoff victims, Koufax said he is not the subject of a similar “clawback” lawsuit.

Asked if he respected what the trustee was doing in suing alleged “net gainers” to return money to investors who lost principal, Koufax said: “I don’t know who are the victims and who aren’t the victims. If I lost any money, I didn’t lose it to Madoff. I lost it to the IRS. You pay taxes on money that didn’t exist. That’s what happened. But I got some of that back. You’re allowed to recoup some of your taxes for a few years.

“I have no problem with what’s going on. I just feel bad for Fred. I don’t know the legal situation. I don’t understand what’s going on. Basically, there are two different numbers involved, and I don’t understand the discrepancy.”

Koufax also has a relationship with new manager Terry Collins.

“Terry was managing for the Dodgers,” Koufax said. “You’ve got to go back 25, 30 years ago. I’ve known Terry since then. He’s always been a good baseball man. He’s organized. He’s devoted. He’s passionate. And he’s just a good guy.”

Among the pitchers who requested speaking with Koufax was left-hander Chris Capuano.

Of course, Koufax joked, Johan Santana chatted with the Hall of Famer last year and ended up undergoing shoulder surgery in September.

“When I talked to Johan, I just told him to stay healthy,” Koufax said. “And he didn’t take my advice.”



Daniel Murphy
.289 9 57 79
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
WB. Colon 15
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187