New York Mets: Stephen Strasburg

Rapid Reaction: Nats 9, Mets 7 (10)

March, 31, 2014
Mar 31
NEW YORK -- Still 90 wins to go.

Jeurys Familia surrendered a tiebreaking sacrifice fly to Ian Desmond after allowing two singles and having the runners advance on Travis d'Arnaud's passed ball, and John Lannan subsequently surrendered a three-run homer to Anthony Rendon in his first career major league relief appearance as the Washington Nationals rallied to beat the Mets 9-7 in 10 innings before an announced Opening Day crowd of 42,442. Lannan, whose previous 148 appearances had been as a starting pitcher (and mostly with the Nats), had walked the lefty-hitting Adam LaRoche to bring up Rendon.

Trailing 9-5 in the bottom of the 10th, David Wright produced a two-out, two-run homer.

Bobby Parnell, in his first game since last July 30, surrendered a game-tying RBI double to Denard Span with two outs in the ninth as the Nats pulled even at 5. Parnell was returning from surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck.

Elsa/Getty ImagesJuan Lagares had staked the Mets to a one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth with a homer.

Known for his defense, not his bat, Juan Lagares nonetheless had given the Mets a 5-4 lead a half-inning earlier. Lagares homered against Tyler Clippard to begin the eighth -- the Mets’ first hit in five innings.

The Mets' MLB-best Opening Day winning percentage slipped to .642 (34-19). Their batters struck out 17 times.

Gee sharp: Making his first career Opening Day start, Dillon Gee surrendered a mammoth two-run homer to LaRoche in the second inning, then bulldozed his way through the Nats' lineup in the middle innings. Gee retired the next 15 batters, until Bryce Harper singled off the glove of Eric Young Jr. at second base with one out in the seventh.

Gee stumbled that frame while trying to protect a 4-2 lead.

After E.Y. Jr. could not turn a double play on a grounder to shortstop, which swapped Desmond for Harper on the basepaths, Gee walked LaRoche. Gee then surrendered a two-out, run-scoring double to Rendon as Washington pulled within a run.

The relief corps did not help.

Terry Collins summoned Carlos Torres with two in scoring position and Gee’s pitch count at 100. Torres walked pinch-hitter Nate McLouth on four pitches to load the bases.

Collins returned to the mound and called for Scott Rice to face Span. Rice walked Span on four pitches to force in the tying run.

Jose Valverde, the fourth pitcher in four batters, finally bailed out the Mets in his debut with the organization. Valverde, the primary setup man, struck out Ryan Zimmerman with the count full to leave three Nats on base and limit the damage to a 4-all tie.

Valverde also contributed a perfect eighth. It marked his first scoreless appearance of more than one inning since June 28, 2010, with the Detroit Tigers. Valverde struck out three of the four batters he faced.

Gee’s final line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 HR.

Gee had produced a 4-2 record and 2.72 ERA in six starts against the Nats last season.

Brown delivers: Andrew Brown made his first Opening Day roster arguably because the Mets are carrying an extra bench player while Jonathon Niese is on the DL.

Brown also found his way into the starting lineup because of a trio of circumstances:

Chris Young has a right quadriceps strain.

Daniel Murphy is away for the birth of his first child, requiring E.Y. Jr. to shift to second base.

• Collins did not feel comfortable playing Lucas Duda in the outfield after Duda missed more than two weeks of spring training with a hamstring injury.

So what did Brown do? Of course, he belted a three-run homer against Stephen Strasburg in his first at-bat. The first-inning blast staked the Mets to a 3-0 lead. Brown became the first Met to homer in his first at-bat of a season since David Wright against the Marlins’ Josh Johnson on Opening Day 2010.

Meanwhile, Strasburg settled down and allowed four runs on five hits and two walks while striking out 10 in six innings. He retired the final 10 batters. The strikeout total was the most ever against the Mets on Opening Day, topping nine apiece by Curt Schilling (1998), Steve Carlton (1983), Steve Blass (1970) and Don Drysdale (1965).

Ouch: Harper was kneed in the right side of the head by E.Y. Jr. while Harper was sliding into second base in the second inning breaking up a double play. Harper’s helmet went flying and he was escorted off the field by a trainer, but did remain in the game.

Debutant: Curtis Granderson went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in his Mets debut.

MIA: The Mets took the field for the top of the first without a first baseman. Collins then went to the plate umpire. And, after a brief delay, Ike Davis took first base. Davis finished 0-for-2 with a walk before departing on a seventh-inning double-switch during which Duda entered.

It’s a start: Ruben Tejada, the shortstop essentially by default, singled in his first at-bat of the season. He finished 1-for-4.

What’s next: After an off day, the Mets continue their series against the Nats on Wednesday at Citi Field at 7:10 p.m. Bartolo Colon (18-6, 2.65 ERA in 2013) makes his Mets debut opposite left-hander Gio Gonzalez (11-8, 3.36).

The Mets say Murphy and Chris Young both should be in the lineup. Righty-hitting Josh Satin is expected to start at first base against the southpaw Gonzalez.

Morning Briefing: Opening Day!

March, 31, 2014
Mar 31
Mets fan Stewie Griffin always gets fed up on Opening Day, despite the team’s high rate of success in openers.


FIRST PITCH: The 53rd Opening Day in franchise history has arrived.

Dillon Gee is scheduled to throw the season’s first pitch at Citi Field at roughly 1:10 p.m.

Gee, making his first career Opening Day start, opposes Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg, who starts Game 1 for the third straight season.

Washington won the 2013 season series, 12-7.

A pregame ceremony will honor the late Ralph Kiner, with four of his children participating.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio throws out the ceremonial first pitch.

Terry Collins also unveils his lineup, with the question marks being: Ike Davis or Lucas Duda at first base? And Eric Young Jr. or Juan Lagares in the outfield?

The Mets are 34-18 in franchise history on Opening Day … and that includes eight straight losses to begin their existence.

Monday also marks the official beginning of instant replay for the Mets.

Monday’s news reports:

• The Mets set their roster Sunday by placing Jonathon Niese on the 15-day disabled list and Matt Harvey on the 60-day disabled list and by sending Eric Campbell, Kyle Farnsworth, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Anthony Seratelli and Taylor Teagarden to the minors.

The 25-man roster:

Starting pitchers (4): Gee, Bartolo Colon, Zack Wheeler and Jenrry Mejia

Relievers (7): Bobby Parnell, Jose Valverde, Jeurys Familia, Carlos Torres, Gonzalez Germen, Scott Rice and John Lannan

Infielders (9): Travis d’Arnaud, Anthony Recker, Davis, Duda, Josh Satin, Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada, Omar Quintanilla and David Wright

Outfielders (5): Chris Young, Lagares, EY Jr., Curtis Granderson and Andrew Brown

• Read Opening Day previews in the Post, Daily News, Times, Record and at

• Marc Carig in Newsday writes that Gee’s tryout for the Mets before being drafted in the 21st round in 2007 almost did not happen because of rain.

The field was unplayable. And now the Mets’ scout in charge was trying to send most of them home.

He told the group that the workout would be moved to a small indoor facility about 45 minutes up the road. Only 15 could go. Then he read aloud from the list of the chosen few.

Dillon Gee didn't hear his name.

Disappointed, he was ready to begin the long drive home. But before he made it to the car, his father made a beeline toward the scout, Ray Corbett.

“I was embarrassed,” Gee said last week. “But that’s kind of how my dad is. He was probably thinking, ‘I didn’t come here for nothing.’”

Read more on Gee in the Post and

• Jared Diamond in the Journal wonders when the next “Harvey Day” will be. Harvey, by the way, accompanied the team from Florida to Montreal and then on to New York and will be at Citi Field on Monday, including performing his rehab pregame by throwing on flat ground.

• Lannan, who made the team as a second left-hander in the bullpen, plans to spend the opening homestand living in the Long Beach, Long Island, house in which he grew up. Lannan will move to Manhattan when the apartment becomes available later this month. Read more in the Post.

• Shortstops Nick Franklin and Didi Gregorius both were demoted by their clubs and should still be available via trade, the Post’s Joel Sherman tweets.

• Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post offers five reasons for optimism … and five reasons for pessimism.

• Anthony Rieber in Newsday writes about four Mets who can make Sandy Alderson’s 90-win goal become reality.

• Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post notes the Mets are deep in starting pitching throughout the system.

• Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger delves in the Mets’ recent home futility. Vorkunov notes the Mets were MLB’s only team with a winning road record and losing overall record last season.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing declares that on Opening Day, baseball is a metaphor for baseball, which is all it has to be. … The Eddie Kranepool Society opines on what to expect from the Mets, with emphasis on the bullpen being a determining factor in the team’s competitiveness.

BIRTHDAYS: Tom Hausman, who pitched five seasons for the Mets, was born on this date in 1953.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: What’s your ideal Mets lineup for Opening Day?

Series preview: Mets vs. Nats

March, 30, 2014
Mar 30

USA TODAY SportsThe Mets will face Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann in a season-opening series against the Nats at Citi Field.
METS (74-88, third place/NL East) vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (86-76, second place/NL East)

Monday: RHP Dillon Gee (1211, 3.62) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (8-9, 3.00), 1:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Bartolo Colon (18-6, 2.65) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (11-8, 3.36), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP Zack Wheeler (7-5, 3.42) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (19-9, 3.25), 1:10 p.m. ET

Nationals short hops

• First-year manager Matt Williams, 48, arrives from the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he served the past three seasons as Kirk Gibson’s third-base coach. Williams was a five-time All-Star as a player. He had a relationship with Nats GM Mike Rizzo from their D-backs days.

Mitchell Layton/Getty ImagesMatt Williams is the first-year manager of the Nats.

Compared with predecessor Davey Johnson, Williams is expected to have the Nats much more aggressive on the bases trying to manufacture runs. Washington’s coaching staff remains basically intact, including Randy Knorr -- a managerial finalist -- continuing as bench coach.

• Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman’s throwing yips seemed to become even more pronounced during spring training on plays in which he has time to set and throw. The Nats may use Zimmerman on a limited basis at first base against difficult left-handers in place of Adam LaRoche. Zimmerman logged two Grapefruit League innings at first base. Once LaRoche’s contract expires after this season, Zimmerman could make a full transition across the diamond. Washington is expected to choose a $2 million buyout for LaRoche over a $15 million option for 2015.

• The Nats further upgraded their rotation by stealing Doug Fister in a trade from the Detroit Tigers, who were looking to shed payroll. Fister, who is under Washington’s control through the 2015 season, avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $7.2 million salary for this year. He went 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA in 33 appearances (32) starts last season with Detroit. Fister did lose three weeks of spring training because of elbow inflammation. The Nats hoped Fister would return from the DL to start the season’s sixth game -- the same type of plan the Mets have with Jonathon Niese. But then Fister strained a lat muscle Thursday. The Tigers received Steve Lombardozzi, Ian Krol and pitching prospect Robbie Ray in the trade.

• The Washington additions of note on the position-player side: catcher Jose Lobaton from the Tampa Bay Rays on Feb. 13 to serve as Wilson Ramos’ backup, and ex-Pirate/Brave Nate McLouth as the fourth outfielder, which will allow the regulars to get more time off. Lobaton’s acquisition prompted the release of Chris Snyder. The Nats then picked up Kevin Frandsen at the end of camp as the 25th man and as a righty-hitting first-base option. Frandsen had opted out of a guaranteed $900,000 contract days earlier with the Philadelphia Phillies after being sent to Triple-A. Frandsen was deemed a better option than in-house candidates Jamey Carroll and Tyler Moore.

Stephen Strasburg had bone chips removed from his right elbow in October. He unknowingly pitched with the issue last season. Strasburg emphasized holding runners during camp and added a slider.

Bryce Harper had knee surgery in October to address bursitis, which hampered him last season.

• Closer Rafael Soriano had a rough spring training. He allowed nine earned runs and 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings during Grapefruit League play.

• A year ago, after the departures of Sean Burnett, Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Gonzalez as free agents, the Nats entered the 2013 season lacking capable lefty relief. In fact, Zach Duke was the only southpaw in the bullpen to open the year. Now, Washington seemingly has remedied that issue. Former first-round pick Ross Detwiler, after losing out on a rotation spot, has shifted to the bullpen. Washington also acquired Jerry Blevins from the Oakland Athletics on Dec. 11 for minor-leaguer Billy Burns. Gonzalez also was back in camp during spring training. He was released Tuesday, but re-signed on a minor-league deal and is ticketed for Triple-A Syracuse.

• Washington hopes to lock up Jordan Zimmermann on a long-term deal, although it would be costly. Zimmermann wants to be paid like a No. 1 starter, which means at least a $150 million commitment. He is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.

• Shortstop Ian Desmond and second baseman Anthony Rendon form the middle infield, which Danny Espinosa back on the big-league club as the backup. Espinosa, a starter in 2011 and ’12, was demoted to Triple-A Syracuse last June with a .158 average and did not return -- even on a September call-up. That decision prevented Espinosa from Super 2 status and arbitration eligibility a year early.

Morning Briefing: Tomorrow, tomorrow ...

March, 30, 2014
Mar 30

Howard Simmons/NY Daily News Archive via Getty ImagesFour of the late Ralph Kiner's children will be on hand at Citi Field on Monday when the Mets honor the Hall of Famer and legendary broadcaster.

FIRST PITCH: Opening Day is only a day away.

The Mets completed their exhibition schedule Saturday with a 2-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays before 50,229 onlookers in Montreal, then flew to New York in advance to Monday’s 1:10 p.m. opener against the Washington Nationals.

Dillon Gee (12-11, 3.62 ERA last season) will oppose Stephen Strasburg (8-9, 3.00) at Citi Field.

The Mets will have a private workout Sunday at their home ballpark.

Terry Collins on Saturday declined to specify his Opening Day lineup, which basically means declining to reveal whether Ike Davis or Lucas Duda would start at first base and whether Eric Young Jr. or Juan Lagares would start in the outfield.

TC has clearly advocated EY Jr. as his leadoff hitter, so the resolution should offer insight as to how much sway the manager actually has. Meanwhile, logic suggests Ike gets the first shot at first base, with very little rope, although that too remains to be seen.

Asked if he knew which Opening Day lineup he intended, Collins succinctly said Saturday: “I do.”

Asked if he cared to share it, the manager added: “No.”

The Mets are 34-18 in season openers, which gives them an MLB-best .654 winning percentage. That’s despite losing the first eight Opening Days in franchise history.

Sandy Alderson has floated a 90-win goal for the Mets, but that seems more wishful thinking than being realistic. The Mets have produced five straight losing seasons, and enter 2014 off consecutive 74-88 campaigns.

“We think we’re going to be better,” Collins maintained Saturday. “We think we’re going to do some positive things. We’ve added some athleticism, some power. Now we’ve just got to go play.”

Eric Bolte/USA TODAY SportsJenrry Mejia is scheduled to start Friday against the Reds.

Sunday’s news reports:

Jenrry Mejia has made the Opening Day roster over Daisuke Matsuzaka. Matsuzaka described himself as “shocked” by the decision. Still, there are multiple scenarios in which Matsuzaka never throws a pitch for Triple-A Las Vegas. Mejia is due to visit a doctor Sunday after being struck in the right forearm with a line drive Friday. X-rays in Montreal were negative. If Mejia cannot pitch Friday against the Cincinnati Reds, or if Jonathon Niese cannot come off the disabled list two days later for a homestand-concluding start, Matsuzaka would step in. Matsuzaka might succeed Mejia after one turn of the rotation anyway. Read more in the Times, Star-Ledger, Daily News, Newsday and

Gonzalez Germen and Andrew Brown round out the 25-man roster, with Kyle Farnsworth, Eric Campbell, Anthony Seratelli and Taylor Teagarden among the players ticketed for Triple-A. See the unofficial Opening Day list of players here.

• Columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post recaps the long stretches of futility in Mets history, including 2009 to the present.

• New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will throw the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day. A pregame ceremony at Citi Field will honor the late Ralph Kiner. It is due to include his children Michael, K.C., Tracee and Kimberlee. Their brother Scott will be in Pittsburgh for a Pirates ceremony honoring their father, according to the Daily News, which interviewed Kiner’s kids. Read more on the pregame ceremony in the Daily News.

• Steve Serby in the Post has a Q&A with SNY’s Gary, Keith and Ron. On Noah Syndergaard, Ron Darling tells Serby: “I’ve watched him throw not only in a game, but also on the side. He’s a bear, and he’s got all the makings of one of those special guys. I think that there’s definitely some more polish that he needs.”

• The Mets’ ballpark-related revenue declined for a fourth straight season in 2013, Jim Baumbach writes in Newsday.

• Mike Puma in the Post discusses the Davis versus Duda decision.

• Marc Carig in Newsday reviews Alderson’s call for 90 wins.

Curtis Granderson as the cleanup hitter provides protection for David Wright in the No. 3 hole, writes Anthony Rieber in Newsday.

• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post doubts you’ll see Matt Harvey in 2014, with the Mets and agent Scott Boras both prioritizing being cautious. Writes Sherman:

It is not just that there has been a rash of Tommy John surgeries this spring (seven) that has the industry wondering if this is a coincidence or a sea change of some sort. But five starters between ages 24-29 -- Brandon Beachy, Daniel Hudson, Cory Luebke, Kris Medlen and Jarrod Parker -- all needed a second Tommy John in the past six weeks, and in the cases of Beachy, Hudson and Luebke it was within two years of their first. Harvey is 25.

• Harvey tells Rieber in Newsday he wants to be a Hall of Famer. He toured the museum at age 17. “Being the best is being in that room,” Harvey said. “That was something that I always kind of pictured and hoped that one day my plaque would be up there." Harvey and Masahiro Tanaka’s teams actually met in Cooperstown when Harvey was a teenager, Rieber also writes.

• The Mets hope to improve their recently dismal home record in 2014. Carig in Newsday writes one part of the plan is to curtail access to the players, at least during clubhouse time.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear remembers not being able to read about today’s game until tomorrow’s paper came out. … NY Mets Life reviews how Mets players have performed on past Opening Days.

BIRTHDAYS: Agent Terry Bross, a St. John’s product and former Mets pitcher, turns 48. Bross’ clients include Bronson Arroyo.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: What do you believe the Mets’ record will be in 2014?

Nats 7, Mets 3: Wheels off in last tune-up

March, 25, 2014
Mar 25
VIERA, Fla. -- Facing the team he is expected to again oppose next Thursday in his first-regular season start, Zack Wheeler lacked fastball command.

Wheeler surrendered a three-run homer to Bryce Harper in a five-run third inning and departed without completing that frame because he had thrown more than 40 pitches in that inning alone.

The Mets ultimately lost to the Washington Nationals, 7-3, Tuesday at Space Coast Stadium.

Wheeler’s final line: 2.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. He threw in the bullpen afterward to get his workload to 90 pitches.

Wheeler expects to pitch Game 3 of the season on April 3, after Dillon Gee handles Opening Day and Bartolo Colon pitches the second game. Because it is nine days until that outing, Wheeler plans to throw two bullpen sessions between starts to try to stay sharp.

“I’ve done it before, like in the minor leagues, just two small bullpens -- just nice and light,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler indicated he was not holding back from his arsenal knowing he will face the Nats again next week.

“Honestly, I wasn’t really that cautious,” said Wheeler, who finishes Grapefruit Legaue play with a 3.86 ERA in 18 2/3 innings. “Just my fastballs, me and Dan [Warthen] were talking about it, I was pulling off a little bit at the end. My offspeed was good. I was finishing through the pitch. Just a bad day. It’s going to happen. It’s good to get it out of the way in spring training.”

Stephen Strasburg, who starts opposite Gee on Opening Day at Citi Field, allowed a wind-aided solo homer to Travis d’Arnaud and run-scoring triple to Eric Young Jr. in a three-run third. Otherwise, Strasburg was unscathed in 5 2/3 innings.

Lacking gas: Bobby Parnell surrendered an eighth-inning solo homer to Ryan Zimmerman to cap the scoring. Parnell’s fastball registered 88-92 mph Tuesday, below his pre-surgery levels.

Back in Black: Vic Black allowed one hit and one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless relief innings a day after an exceedingly rocky performance against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Black has now allowed 24 baserunners in 9 1/3 innings. And Sandy Alderson reiterated Terry Collins’ statement of a day earlier that Black cannot rely on his September 2013 performance to make the club. Gonzalez Germen (5.40 ERA) is the bullpen alternative at this point.

“Performances matter,” Alderson said. “I mean, last year was a small sample. This year is an almost equal sample. So I think you really have to take everything into account. We’re not ignoring spring-training performance.”

Asked if Black looked a little better Tuesday, Collins said: “Yeah, but you’ve got to pitch ahead [in the count]. Nobody did that today. When you have 20 three-ball counts or something like that, we’ve certainly got to do better than that.”

What’s next: Gee gets the start as the Mets play a night game in Kissimmee against the Houston Astros on Wednesday. Gee opposes right-hander Scott Feldman at 6:05 p.m. (WOR 710 AM).

Morning Briefing: It's Wheeler vs. Strasburg

March, 25, 2014
Mar 25

Getty ImagesZack Wheeler and Stephen Strasburg face off on Tuesday in Grapefruit League action ... not on Opening Day.

FIRST PITCH: Mets fans will not get Stephen Strasburg versus Zack Wheeler on Opening Day, but they will get the matchup six days earlier in Viera, Fla.

Strasburg, Washington’s Opening Day starter at Citi Field, is scheduled to oppose Wheeler at 1:05 p.m. Tuesday at Space Coast Stadium. The game is not on television or radio in New York, but will be on the Nats’ MASN network.

Tuesday’s news reports:

Daisuke Matsuzaka is expected to get word Tuesday that he has made the Opening Day roster. Noon is the deadline for the Mets to inform him he has made the club. Otherwise, the Mets would have to release him, or give him $100,000 for the right to send him to the minors. Matsuzaka appeared to seal the deal by blanking the St. Louis Cardinals through six innings Monday. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Times, Star-Ledger, Newsday and

• The Mets made it official Monday, naming Dillon Gee the 23rd different Opening Day starter in franchise history. He will oppose Strasburg. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday, Journal and

Matt Harvey will mostly get his wish. The ace primarily will rehab in New York this season, a source confirmed to

Writes columnist David Lennon in Newsday on the topic:

Just a reminder for those who tuned in late: Harvey is the guy who had Tommy John surgery last October and is not likely to throw a pitch for the Mets this season. Where Harvey will do his stretching exercises and long toss -- either New York or Port St. Lucie -- apparently has become a thing.

My take? This is nuts.

To paraphrase Allen Iverson, another franchise player from another psycho sports town: We’re talking about rehab, man. We’re not even talking about the game. We’re talking about rehab.

Columnist John Harper in the Daily News suggests the Mets, not Harvey, need the attitude adjustment. Writes Harper:

It’s just that Harvey clearly isn’t going to bow to authority or conventional behavior just to please people. For a team like the Mets that has accepted losing much too easily, Harvey provides a harder edge to their collective personality.

That’s not a knock on David Wright. He’s a team-first star who cares about all the right things, on the field and in the clubhouse, and every team needs that behavior as well.

Harvey just adds an I’m-good-and-know-it presence that can help change a losing culture, even if he doesn’t pitch at all this season.

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

Jonathon Niese threw off a mound Monday for the first time since receiving a cortisone shot in his left elbow one week earlier. He pronounced the bullpen session a success. The southpaw aims to be activated from the disabled list for an April 6 start against the Cincinnati Reds. His next step is a minor-league game Thursday. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger and Record.

Wilmer Flores was arguably the highest-profile demotion Monday. Also sent to minor-league camp: Matt den Dekker, Zach Lutz and Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Thirty-three players, including the rehabbing Harvey and Jeremy Hefner as well as the DL-bound Niese, remain in big-league camp. Flores will play shortstop and second base at Triple-A Las Vegas, which will give the Mets an internal option to unseat Ruben Tejada in-season if the incumbent shortstop flops in April. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger and

• The Mets’ official account made an unfortunate tweet after Matsuzaka struck out the side in the first inning Monday, writing: “Dice-KKK off to a quick start. He strikes out the side in the 1st inning. #NYMvsSTL”

The tweet subsequently was deleted, with an apology. Read more in the Post and Daily News.

• The Mets have created the position of assistant hitting coach. Luis Natera, who has long served as Double-A Binghamton’s hitting coach, was named to the new role as Dave Hudgens’ deputy. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

Kyle Farnsworth, who was released by the Mets on Sunday, is expected to re-sign on a minor-league deal Tuesday. The maneuver will save the Mets a $100,000 retention bonus. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Record.

Adam RubinThe moving truck carrying Mets equipment back to Citi Field was fully loaded and departed Monday at noon.

• The Pittsburgh Pirates will honor the late Ralph Kiner with a No. 4 patch on their jerseys this season. The Mets previously announced their intention to wear a patch as a tribute to their longtime broadcaster.

• The Mets beat the Cardinals, 5-3, Monday behind a three-run third inning against Shelby Miller that included a two-run double by Daniel Murphy. Vic Black flopped again, perhaps imperiling his seemingly locked up roster spot. He now has allowed 22 baserunners in eight Grapefruit League innings. John Lannan shined in a relief role for the second straight day. Lannan is a perfect 6-for-6 in retiring batters in a two-day span out of the bullpen.

• Read more on Lannan’s relief transition in the Journal.

Chris Schwinden and eight other players were released from minor-league camp.

Curtis Granderson taught baseball to Port St. Lucie-area YMCA children after playing in Monday’s Grapefruit League game. See photo here.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear tries to reconcile Ike Davis’ continued Mets presence with the expectation he was considered on his way out during the offseason. … NY Mets Life hopes Sandy's plan is worth the wait.

BIRTHDAYS: Soon-to-be Hall of Fame inductee Tom Glavine turns 48. ... Lee Mazzilli, whose son L.J. is now a Mets farmhand, is 59.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should Vic Black, Gonzalez Germen, Jenrry Mejia or Daisuke Matsuzaka receive a bullpen spot if there is only room for one in that role?

Morning Briefing: For opener, it's Gee

March, 21, 2014
Mar 21

Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsDillon Gee, who faces the Twins on Friday, also is scheduled to pitch on Opening Day.

FIRST PITCH: The Mets take a three-hour drive to Fort Myers on Friday to face the Minnesota Twins, with the buses scheduled to roll out of the Port St. Lucie complex at 7:15 a.m.

Dillon Gee opposes Ricky Nolasco in the 1:05 p.m. game (no Mets TV or radio).

Lucas Duda is scheduled to start at first base in his first Grapefruit League action since injuring his left hamstring March 3. Ike Davis -- who returned to action Thursday, going 0-for-3 and logging six innings at first base -- is due to DH against the Twins.

Friday’s news reports:

• Gee is slated to become the 23rd different Opening Day starter in Mets history. He is due to oppose Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg on March 31 at Citi Field.

After reported the Mets’ intent to give Gee the honor, Terry Collins all but confirmed it Thursday afternoon. The manager cited Gee’s success against the Nats (4-2, 2.72 ERA in 2013) and Gee’s 31 overall wins spanning the past three seasons, which rank second only to Jonathon Niese (32) with the club during that span.

The Mets plan to place Niese on the disabled list to open the season, has learned. Niese, who received a cortisone shot in his left elbow Monday to address inflammation, should come off the DL on the seventh day of the season, to face the Cincinnati Reds in the April 6 homestand finale.

The expectation is Bartolo Colon will start Game 2 and Zack Wheeler will start Game 3 against Washington. Daisuke Matsuzaka should handle the opener against Cincinnati on April 4. Gee then would get the second game against the Reds before Niese’s first start arrives.

Read more in the Post, Newsday, Star-Ledger and

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesA calf injury has slowed Daniel Murphy.

Daniel Murphy jammed his right calf stepping on second base while doubling Sunday and has been out for four straight days. Collins believes Murphy, who missed time earlier in camp with a right-shin issue, should be back in the Grapefruit League lineup Saturday. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Sandy Alderson offered mostly predictable responses while speaking with media members late Thursday.

The GM expects both Davis and Duda to be on the Opening Day roster. Still, has reported that Alderson is checking in with GMs with whom he had trade discussions regarding Davis during the winter.

“I think you have to be a little more cautious and maybe not do something that has forever implications," Alderson told reporters, downplaying expectations of a trade.

Alderson added that he has not spoken with Scott Boras recently about Stephen Drew. He also noted that Juan Lagares and Eric Young Jr. both should get playing time in the outfield, as previously has reported.

“We haven’t had a problem with too many good players over the last couple of years, so if we have that problem over the next week or so, it’s a good thing -- somewhat unique for us,” Alderson told reporters.

Read more in the Record.

• The likelihood seems to be that Davis and Josh Satin platoon to start the season. In that scenario, Duda would be on the roster as a lefty threat for the bench, with strategic starts at first base and possibly the outfield, although his hamstring injury has prevented the Mets from giving Duda reps out there. The Mets also will need a DH the second week of the season for an interleague series in Anaheim. Officially, Collins says the first-base winner may be the one who is most healthy.

Read more on Davis and Duda in the Post, Daily News, Times, Journal, Newsday and Star-Ledger.

• Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post advocates signing Drew. Writes Kernan:

Life could be made a lot easier if the Mets went out and signed free agent Stephen Drew, but there appears to be no play in that direction in their frugal neighborhood. Five of the six shortstops who played on division-winning teams last season had a WAR of 3.0 or better. Drew was one of those players, with a 3.4 WAR.

The Mets have stated 90 wins as their goal this season, which should make a World Series championship shortstop even that much more enticing.

• On the likelihood of the Arizona Diamondbacks trading Didi Gregorius and the Seattle Mariners trading Nick Franklin, columnist Joel Sherman writes in the Post:

The price tags still are high for Franklin and Gregorius -- the Royals, for example, tried to land Franklin in the offseason, thought the cost in prospects was too high and instead gave a four-year, $32 million pact to Omar Infante. Both Franklin, who is expected to lose a Seattle shortstop battle to Brad Miller, and Gregorius, who is expected to lose to Chris Owings, can be optioned to the minors.

And executives from both teams have told me they can wait to see what needs arise during the regular season and use their bullets then. However, an official from an interested club said once players lose a positional battle and are sent to the minors, it is harder to sell them having extravagant value. So there could be some pressure on those clubs -- beyond their win-now status -- to make moves sooner than later.

Anthony Recker belted a walk-off three-run homer against Atlanta Braves left-hander Eric Pfisterer as the Mets won, 7-6, Thursday at Tradition Field. Wheeler allowed a pair of first-inning runs, but eventually tossed 75 pitches over 5 1/3 quality innings and departed with a 4-2 lead. Lagares had a stellar catch at the wall to deprive Justin Upton of an extra-base hit. Lagares later was drilled in the left shoulder with a pitch while squaring to bunt and departed the game. Read more at

• Collins batted the pitcher eighth Thursday, which he may also do in-season if the Nos. 1 and 2 hitters are not successfully getting on base enough ahead of David Wright.

Matt Harvey, who has been throwing on flat ground at 60 feet since getting cleared to pick up a baseball, plans to increase the distance to 75 feet Friday.

• Wheeler wants to be the Opening Day starter in 2015, Kristie Ackert writes in the Daily News.

• Richard Justice at speaks with Wright.

• Las Vegas 51s owners are having trouble getting public financing for a proposed new stadium in the area, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. The Mets’ player-development agreement with the 51s expires after this season, but the sides may have to remain in a shotgun marriage for at least two more seasons after that because no other Triple-A cities may become available for the Mets.

• The low-A Savannah Sand Gnats received their 2013 South Atlantic League championship rings during a morning ceremony Thursday at Tradition Field.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing gives more thought to Harvey and the media. … Rising Apple contributors pick their most likely Mets to disappoint in 2014.

BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets shortstop Shawon Dunston, a first-round pick by the Chicago Cubs out of Brooklyn in 1982, turns 51.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Is Dillon Gee the best choice for Opening Day starter?

Morning Briefing: Crunch time

March, 20, 2014
Mar 20

USA TODAY SportsDidi Gregorius and Nick Franklin are shortstop options for the Mets, but not Pete Kozma.

FIRST PITCH: The Mets break camp in exactly one week to fly to Montreal for a pair of final exhibition games. And Terry Collins says it is now time to get down to serious business.

On Thursday at 1:10 p.m. at Tradition Field, Zack Wheeler is scheduled to oppose Ervin Santana (SNY).

Santana will be making his Braves debut after signing a one-year, $14.1 million deal. Atlanta needed the pitching help after losing Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy. (See the Braves full travel list here.)

For the Mets, Collins has pledged that either Lucas Duda (hamstring) or Ike Davis (calf) will start at first base against the Braves. Both have been getting at-bats in minor-league games, but not running after making contact. It has been 17 days since Duda and 18 days since Davis last appeared in a Grapefruit League game. A healthy bit of skepticism exists among scouts that Davis will be ready for the season.

Jonathon Niese is expected to resume throwing, at least on flat ground, after receiving a cortisone shot in New York on Monday to address elbow inflammation.

Thursday’s news reports:

• The Washington Nationals announced Stephen Strasburg will start on Opening Day, on March 31 against the Mets at Citi Field. Gio Gonzalez will start Game 2 and Jordan Zimmermann will start Game 3.

Didi Gregorius, not Chris Owings, is the shortstop the Arizona Diamondbacks are willing to trade, sources tell One industry source unaffiliated with the Mets or D-backs believes a potential trade between the teams “has legs.” Nick Franklin of the Seattle Mariners is a potential alternative acquisition. The St. Louis Cardinals are making Pete Kozma available, but the Mets are unlikely to be interested because the offensively challenged Kozma is not a clear upgrade over Ruben Tejada.

Three Arizona scouts, including special assistant Todd Greene, watched a Mets intrasquad game Tuesday in which Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Logan Verrett and Jeff Walters pitched. With the loss of planned Opening Day starter Patrick Corbin, the D-backs are looking for MLB-ready pitching in exchange for Gregorius.’s Matt Meyers, meanwhile, makes the case for Wilmer Flores at shortstop. Meyers notes the Mets’ starting pitchers are fly-ball oriented anyway, and reminds readers stocky Kevin Mitchell started at shortstop on days Sid Fernandez pitched in 1986.

Flores is expected to see ample time at shortstop with Triple-A Las Vegas in April, with the Mets open to having him oust Tejada as the shortstop early in the season if Flores can demonstrate competency there.

Read more on potential shortstop trades from Jon Heyman at Read more on Flores in the Star-Ledger.

• Paul DePodesta told plenty of options are on the table for conserving Syndergaard’s innings count with Las Vegas, including five-inning/60-pitch appearances, sporadic one-inning relief appearances rather than full starts, and a six-man rotation.

• DePodesta did a podcast with “Who Are You” sports about his life and baseball. Listen here.

• Triple-A pitching coach Frank Viola has found solace at the ballpark after the passing of his father and mother in a four-week span during spring training, writes Anthony Rieber in Newsday. Read more on Viola in the Record.

• The Mets’ bullpen is projected to include Bobby Parnell, Jose Valverde, Vic Black, Jeurys Familia, Carlos Torres, Scott Rice and Lannan, despite Black’s struggles. Kyle Farnsworth has a contract “out” Sunday, so there should be a resolution soon on his expected failure to make the Opening Day roster. Read a bullpen review in the Post.

• Read more on Wheeler in the Post.

• Águilas Cibaeñas has hired Andy Barkett as manager of its Dominican winter-league team. Wally Backman recently had interviewed for that position in Port St. Lucie. Read more (in Spanish) in El Caribe.

• Mets fan Daniel Franklin (@Stan_Kankels), a 22-year-old from Chappaqua who now lives in Manhattan, has been selected to participate in MLB’s “Fan Cave” this season. He is a sound-board operator at WABC 770 AM in NYC. Read more at

• Jared Diamond in the Journal notes the Mets still have question marks with Tejada, at first base and with Jenrry Mejia’s role. Marc Carig in Newsday focuses on the uncertainty with Tejada and first base.

From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report suggests the Mets are playing unreasonable hardball with Matt Harvey. … Blogging Mets predicts the club will trade Niese and Dillon Gee.

BIRTHDAYS: Manny Alexander was born on this date in 1971.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Do you believe Lucas Duda, Ike Davis or neither will be in the Mets’ Grapefruit League lineup on Thursday against the Braves?

Nats set rotation for Mets series

March, 19, 2014
Mar 19

USA TODAY SportsThe Mets will face Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann in a season-opening series against the Nats at Citi Field.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Washington Nationals officially announced Wednesday their rotation for their season-opening series against the Mets at Citi Field.

Stephen Strasburg will start on Opening Day on March 31, followed by Gio Gonzalez on April 2 and Jordan Zimmermann on April 3.

The Mets originally intended for Jonathon Niese to start Opening Day opposite Strasburg, followed by Bartolo Colon in Game 2 and Dillon Gee in Game 3.

Now, there is a lack of clarity, with Niese very possibly opening the sesaon on the disabled list and getting activated for an April 6 start against the Cincinnati Reds.

Regardless of the Mets' rotation order, Colon and Gee are sure to face the Nats.

Terry Collins previously has said Colon is the most likely for Opening Day.

Gee went 4-2 with a 2.72 ERA against Washington last season, leading one Nats official to joke that he has nightmares about Gee.

Morning Briefing: Happy Noah Day!

March, 3, 2014
Mar 3

Jeff Roberson/Associated PressNoah Syndergaard makes his Grapefruit League debut Monday at ESPN's Wide World of Sports.

FIRST PITCH: It’s Noah Syndergaard Day!

Syndergaard makes his Grapefruit League debut at 1:05 p.m. Monday against the Atlanta Braves at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports (WOR 710 AM).

Jacob deGrom, Miguel Socolovich, Gonzalez Germen, Josh Edgin and Jeff Walters also are scheduled to pitch for the Mets.

Right-hander Freddy Garcia starts for the Braves. Closer Craig Kimbrel also is scheduled to appear.

Monday’s news reports:

• The Mets remained winless in Grapefruit League play with a 7-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday. Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed one run in two innings. Terry Collins subsequently anointed John Lannan and Dice-K as the fifth-starter frontrunners. Long Island native Steven Matz continued to impress scouts with a scoreless frame. Wilmer Flores made his first appearance at shortstop since 2011, when he played in the Florida State League. (View the box score here.)

Read more on Dice-K in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger and

Read more on Matz in Newsday and the Star-Ledger.

Jhonny Peralta, who signed a four-year, $53 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, indicated the Mets made him a two-year offer early in the offseason. Read more in the Post.

Jeff Roberson/Associated PressRuben Tejada was scratched from Sunday's game with hamstring tightness.

Ruben Tejada experienced left hamstring tightness and was scratched from Sunday’s game. Collins expected Tejada to return to the lineup as soon as Tuesday. Read more on Tejada’s injury in the Post, Daily News, Times, Star-Ledger and Newsday.

Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post reviews shortstop alternatives to Tejada: Stephen Drew (free agent), Nick Franklin (trade) and Flores (internal).

Writes Sherman:

Executives I have spoken with say the Mets have indicated they will not add significantly to their 2014 payroll. Thus, while Drew’s asking price has fallen, it will probably never sink to a level these Mets are willing to spend. …

Seattle with Franklin and Brad Miller and the Diamondbacks with Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings have shortstop battles ongoing. Thus, both will have depth to trade, and the Mets talked to both at the Winter Meetings. But there have been no strong talks recently. …

Even most Mets officials are skeptics [of Flores at shortstop]. He did play the final few innings Sunday at short and Collins said, “I am intrigued. We will run him out there and see what we have.”

• Columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record suggests the Mets are headed in the right direction with their young starting pitching, but they are at best a .500 team this season -- and Sandy Alderson knows it.

• Tim Rohan in the Times writes a feature on Syndergaard. Read more on the top prospect in the Daily News.

• Citi Field will be one of three MLB ballparks to be fitted for the 2014 season with a system that will collect data about defensive plays. The others will be Target Field in Minnesota and Miller Park in Milwaukee. Select other stadiums will add the technology the following year. Writes Mark Newman at

For instance, on a brilliant, game-saving diving catch by an outfielder, this new system will let us understand what created that outcome. Was it the quickness of his first step, his acceleration? Was it his initial positioning? What if the pitcher had thrown a different pitch? Everything will be connected for the first time, providing a tool for answers to questions like this and more.

• Andrew Marchand at asks if Jose Reyes’ next employer could be the Yankees.

Reyes, by the way, wanted Tejada to work out with him much of the 2012-13 offseason on Long Island. "He only worked with me for a week and a half," Reyes said, via David Lennon in Newsday. "That's not going to get it done. But I saw him two days ago [on TV] and he looked better. I think he learned from that mistake last year. He's still young. The talent is still there."

• Jared Diamond in the Journal suggests the Mets follow the Cardinals’ path and introduce promising arms to the majors in the bullpen. Writes Diamond:

It worked for Lance Lynn, who made 16 relief appearances in 2011, only to emerge as an 18-game winner mostly as a starter in 2012. It worked for Joe Kelly, who pitched 30 times out of the bullpen in 2012 and 2013, mixed with 31 starts, before making four postseason starts during the Cardinals’ run to the World Series last year.

It even worked for ace Adam Wainwright -- a brief chapter the Mets remember better than anybody. As the Cardinals’ closer in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, Wainwright delivered the final curveball that froze Carlos Beltran, silenced Shea Stadium and sent the Mets into an era of ineptitude.

Stephen Strasburg advises Matt Harvey to proceed slowly while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, Kevin Kernan writes in the Post. “You’ll feel great one day and the next day it’s terrible,” Strasburg, who has returned from the procedure, tells Kernan. “The best advice I got was, ‘Look where you were at the start of the month and then at the end of the month. Don’t look at where you were yesterday.’” Strasburg and Harvey both are represented by Scott Boras. And Strasburg has told his agent he is willing to speak with Harvey about the rehab.

• Marty Noble at writes that No. 3 is fitting for Curtis Granderson.

• Ex-Met Guillermo Mota has retired.

• John Rowe in the Record discusses Mets pitchers at the plate.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing presents its annual Oscars-style “montage” of the Mets who stopped being Mets during the past year. … John Delcos at Mets Report cites the case for Lannan as fifth starter.

BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets reliever Jorge Julio -- or, as Anna Benson prefers, Julio Jorge -- turns 35.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Do an 0-3 Grapefruit League record and producing four hits in consecutive games matter?

Morning Briefing: Strasburg at Citi 3/31

February, 26, 2014
Feb 26

Tom Uhlman/Associated PressStephen Strasburg is expected to start on March 31 against the Mets at Citi Field, on Opening Day.

FIRST PITCH: It’s Photo Day for the Mets on Wednesday in Port St. Lucie.

There are two days until the Grapefruit League opener, Friday against the Washington Nationals at 1:10 p.m. at Tradition Field.

First-year Nats manager Matt Williams plans to start Taylor Jordan opposite Rafael Montero on Friday. Jordan is competing with Ross Detwiler and Tanner Roark for the Nats’ fifth-starter role. Here is Washington’s tentative starting lineup, via Mark Zuckerman at Nats Insider:

Nate McLouth, rf
Danny Espinosa, 2b
Ryan Zimmerman, 3b
Adam LaRoche, 1b
Ian Desmond, ss
Wilson Ramos, c
Tyler Moore, dh
Scott Hairston, lf
Michael Taylor, cf

Williams also confirmed Stephen Strasburg is lined up to start Opening Day, on March 31 at Citi Field. That is likely to be opposite Jonathon Niese, according to Terry Collins.

Montero threw live batting practice Tuesday, in advance of starting Friday.

Wednesday’s news reports:

Jeremy Hefner tossed a baseball on consecutive days for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery. “Passed another big hurdle, and feeling good!” Hefner tweeted.

• Free-agent Johan Santana topped out at only 81 mph and largely pitched at 77-78 mph in an audition for seven teams, including the Yankees, at a Fort Myers, Fla., high school, George King reported in the Post. The starting-pitching-deep Mets did not send a scout, notes Marc Carig in Newsday. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Jon Heyman at reports the Tama Bay Rays also have interest in Seattle Mariners infielder Nick Franklin, along with the Mets. A source told earlier this offseason that the Rays and Mariners were close to pulling the trigger on a deal involving Franklin, but Jeremy Hellickson’s injury limited Tampa Bay’s pitching depth and caused the trade to fall apart. Perhaps coincidentally, the first scout spotted at Mets camp was Joe McIlvaine, the former Mets GM, who works for the Mariners. Read more in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

• Collins plans to take David Wright, Curtis Granderson, Travis d’Arnaud and likely one other starter -- maybe Ruben Tejada -- to Las Vegas for split-squad games against the Chicago Cubs on March 15 and 16. Daniel Murphy will not make the trip because his wife is pregnant, Collins said. Murph said the due date is actually not until April 15. His wife plans to give birth to their son in Florida, where her mother is a nurse, so there may be a brief paternity leave involved during the first month of the season.

• A team official told the Mets were not close to a deal with Stephen Drew. Read more in the Daily News.

Bobby Parnell tells columnist John Harper in the Daily News that he was reassured he would be fine undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disk because he watched Peyton Manning, who also underwent the procedure, throw seven touchdown passes against the Baltimore Ravens in one game. Writes Harper:

In fact, Parnell endured essentially the same surgery: the doctor removed two disks from his neck, inserted a cadaver bone, fused it to his vertebrae and, as he describes it, “caged it with titanium." At that the 29-year old right-hander allowed something of a wry smile and said, “It’s not going anywhere."

Anthony Recker approves of the new rule involving collisions at the plate, which does not end them entirely, but does prevent deliberate blows. The Mets have instructed their catchers, particularly d’Arnaud, not to block the plate, even though that is allowed if the ball beats the runner.

Collins said the Mets, and other teams, will argue with umpires and delay until determining whether to challenge a call using instant replay. Regarding umpires making controversial determinations at the plate, Collins said: “I think you’re going to still see a number of ejections. I really do. We’ve got some guys, like myself, who can get fiery at times.” Read more of Collins’ remarks on instant replay and plate collisions in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Journal, Newsday and

Adam RubinKevin Plawecki turns 23 Wednesday.

• D’Arnaud tells columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post that his whole family is ultra-competitive. “I still remember the first time I beat my dad in basketball, he was so mad he ran into the house,” d’Arnaud told Kernan about winning the hoops game as a 9-year-old. “I remember the first time I beat him in ping-pong -- the same thing.’’

• Tim Rohan in the Times writes that the Mets are blessed with two catching prospects: d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki.

Jose Valverde is mentoring the young pitchers from his country, which he calls his “Dominican mafia,” writes Mike Puma in the Post.

• Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger notes that Recker and Zach Lutz were teammates at Division III Alvernia in Pennsylvania, playing for Lutz’s father Yogi. Only nine of the 1,983 players to appear in the majors last season came from a D-III program, Vorkunov writes.

• Anthony DiComo at profiles Jeurys Familia.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing finds itself managing its 2014 expectations. … John Delcos at Mets Report writes that motivation should come from within for Ike Davis. … Blogging Mets reports on a push to get a permanent Kiner’s Korner at Citi Field.

BIRTHDAYS: Plawecki, who is expected to open the season at Double-A Binghamton, turns 23. He hit a combined .305 with eight homers and 80 RBIs and had a .390 on-base percentage between Savannah and St. Lucie last season.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Would you rather have Ruben Tejada, Nick Franklin or Stephen Drew at shortstop, taking into account the costs in money or prospects to acquire?

Series preview: Mets at Nats

August, 30, 2013

Getty ImagedsThe Mets are scheduled to face (l to r) Jordan Zimmermann, Dan Haren and Ross Ohlendorf this weekend.
METS (60-72, third place/NL East) vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (68-65, second place/NL East)

Friday: RHP Dillon Gee (9-9, 3.69) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (15-7, 3.32), 7:05 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Zack Wheeler (6-3, 3.42) vs. RHP Dan Haren (8-11, 4.66), 7:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: LHP Jonathon Niese (6-6, 3.69) vs. RHP Ross Ohlendorf (2-0, 2.58), 8:05 p.m. ET

Nationals short hops

• The Nats have moved within 6½ games of the Cincinnati Reds for the second wild-card spot by winning 14 of their past 19 games. Washington has 29 games remaining. The Nats were a season-worst six games under .500 on Aug. 7, after getting swept at home by the Atlanta Braves.

Bryce Harper on Thursday clubbed his 41st career homer. That is the third most in major league history before turning 21, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The only with more: Mel Ott (61) and Tony Conigliaro (56). Harper isn’t legally able to drink until Oct. 16. Harper has a career-high 11-game hitting streak. He is hitting .409 (18-for-44) during that stretch.

G Fiume/Getty ImagesJayson Werth was the NL Player of the Month in July.

Ian Desmond produced his 20th homer Thursday, which trails only Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki (22) among National League shortstops. Desmond’s 55 extra-base hits lead that group, as do his 33 doubles. He is two steals shy of his second straight 20-20 season. The only other Nat to reach that plateau in homers and steals in a season: Alfonso Soriano, who had 46 homers and 41 steals in 2006.

• After his Wednesday outing was cut short after two innings and 22 pitches by rain, the Nats considered using Stephen Strasburg on Sunday against the Mets, but passed. Manager Davey Johnson is leaning strongly toward using Ross Ohlendorf. Strasburg experienced back tightness during a 72-minute delay.

Ohlendorf’s rotation security is tenuous. The Nats plan to insert rookie Tanner Roark into the rotation. Although Ohlendorf is 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA in 12 appearances (four starts) this season, he has stalled in the fifth inning in his two starts since returning from the disabled list.

• Right fielder Jayson Werth enters the series one plate appearance shy of qualifying to be listed among the league’s batting leaders (3.1 PAs/team game). Werth would be tied with Chris Johnson at .329 for second in the NL in average, trailing only Yadier Molina (.333). Since July 4, Werth is hitting .405 with 13 homers and 37 RBIs in 48 games. He was the NL Player of the Month for July.

Jordan Zimmermann’s 15 wins are tied with Adam Wainwright for the NL lead. Zimmermann is one of many examples of a successful return from Tommy John surgery. He underwent the procedure in Aug. 19, 2009 and was back pitching in the majors 12 months, seven days later.

• Center fielder Denard Span has a 12-game hitting streak.

• The Nats traded catcher Kurt Suzuki to the Oakland Athletics last Friday for Class A right-hander Dakota Bacus. They also acquired a player to be named from the Tampa Bay Rays for David DeJesus, four days after claiming DeJesus off waivers from the Chicago Cubs.

Series preview: Mets at Nationals

July, 25, 2013

Getty ImagesThe Mets face Jordan Zimmermann (left) and Ross Ohlendorf (right) in Friday's doubleheader in D.C.
METS (45-53, fourth place/NL East) vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (49-53, second place/NL East)

Friday: RHP Jenrry Mejia (0-0, -.--) and RHP Matt Harvey (8-2, 2.23) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (12-5, 3.01) and RHP Ross Ohlendorf (2-0, 2.03), 1:35/7:05 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Dillon Gee (7-7, 4.07) vs. RHP Dan Haren (4-11, 5.79), 3:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Carlos Torres (1-1, 0.94) vs. RHP Taylor Jordan (0-3, 3.68), 1:35 p.m. ET

Nationals short hops

• The Nats fired hitting coach Rick Eckstein this week and replaced him with Rick Schu. The 51-year-old Schu had been a minor league hitting instructor for the Nats for the past four seasons. He played in the majors for parts of nine seasons, primarily with the Philadelphia Phillies. He previously had served as hitting coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Washington ranks 28th in the majors in runs (370), 27th in batting average (.239), 28th in on-base percentage (.299) and 24th in slugging percentage (.382).

Nick Wass/Associated PressRick Schu took over as hitting coach this week.

• The exception to the Nats’ struggles at the plate has been right fielder Jayson Werth. His gaudy production over the past month included consecutive two-homer games this week. Since June 23, Werth is hitting .354 (34-for-96) with eight homers and 22 RBIs in 28 games.

Bryce Harper produced his first career walk-off homer as the Nats snapped a six-game losing streak to open the second half with a 9-7 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday afternoon. Washington nonetheless is 8-13 in July.

Rafael Soriano and Ian Krol had combined to surrender four runs in the top of the ninth as Pittsburgh had evened the score at 7. Until Thursday’s long ball, Harper had been having a quiet month at the plate since returning from the DL on July 1. He missed five weeks with a left knee injury.

• The Nats acquired ex-Met Scott Hairston from the Chicago Cubs on July 8 for minor leaguer Ivan Pineyro, a player to be named and cash. Hairston hit .172 with eight homers in 99 at-bats in part-time use with the Cubs.

• Left-hander Ross Detwiler is due to spend another month on the DL with a pinched nerve in his lower back. Rookie Taylor Jordan, who faces the Mets on Sunday, has stepped into the rotation. But not too far removed from Tommy John surgery, Jordan is due to reach a season innings cap in 20-30 innings and be shut down.

Ross Ohlendorf, who has started for Triple-A Syracuse and primarily relieved at the major league level this season, could bridge the rotation gap between Jordan’s shutdown and Detwiler’s return. The Princeton-educated Ohlendorf gets a spot start Friday against the Mets with the need for an extra starter created by the doubleheader.

Jordan has a 76.2 percent rate of groundballs.

• Catcher Wilson Ramos returned July 4 after missing nearly two months. During two stints on the DL for a balky left hamstring this season, Ramos has missed a combined 58 games. Ramos missed most of 2012 recovering from right knee surgery.

• Rookie second baseman Anthony Rendon is hitting .182 in his past 23 games after hitting .354 in his first 26 major league games.

• Reliever Tyler Clippard has produced 13 consecutive scoreless innings.

Jordan Zimmermann has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 11 of his 13 career starts against the Mets.

Stephen Strasburg on Wednesday became the second pitcher in modern major league history to lose a start in which he recorded at least 12 strikeouts, allowed two or fewer hits and surrendered no walks, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The other: James Shields in 2012, for the Tampa Bay Rays against the Baltimore Orioles. Strasburg has a major league-high four losses this season in which he allowed one earned run of fewer.

Niese gives thumbs up for Saturday

June, 5, 2013
WASHINGTON -- After throwing a 39-pitch bullpen session, Jonathon Niese pronounced himself fit to reenter the rotation Saturday against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field. Niese missed one start with what was labeled shoulder tendinitis, although his description sounded more like an impingement.

"It's nice to throw a bullpen without feeling any soreness or pain," Niese said. "I kept the arm angle up and made some pitches in the bullpen that had probably 85 or 90 percent intensity and felt really good. I'm pretty confident that I feel good. How it felt before, in between each start, was night-and-day difference from how it felt today. It was good to get that rest."

Niese described the issue that caused him to miss one start as "some sharp pains in my shoulder -- kind of like that irritating, nagging feeling, real sore. In some movements, when I moved my shoulder, I would get that sharp pain. It would catch."

CENTER ATTENTION: Terry Collins plans to give Juan Lagares at least a two-day run in center field over Rick Ankiel, although that appears more motivated by pitching matchups than a resolve to get Lagares action. Right-hander Dan Haren is more effective against lefty hitters than righty hitters because of his emphasis on a cutter, so it made sense to play the righty-hitting Lagares over the lefty-hitting Ankiel, according to Collins. For that same reason, righty-hitting Marlon Byrd starts over lefty-hitting Jordany Valdespin in right field.

Lagares should again start Thursday with the Mets facing left-hander Gio Gonzalez.

Collins said Lagares tends to go outside the strike zone. And while that still led to solid contact in the minors, the manager did express concern that the scouting report at the major league level would be exploited and the rookie would see fewer pitches he could handle.

ELBOWED OUT: Collins suggested Jeurys Familia might be out for the season, although that might have been too strong considering Familia was only due to undergo surgery today to remove a bone spur and loose bodies in his right elbow. Cleanouts, Frank Francisco's notwithstanding, generally take no more than six weeks of recovery time. Collins acknowledged the loss, however long, is a blow to the Mets. The manager said that in spring training he envisioned Familia emerging as the eighth-inning reliever by the end of the season.

ON THE SHELF: The Nats placed Stephen Strasburg (lat) on the DL.

Morning Briefing: Zack not 'savior'

June, 5, 2013

FIRST PITCH: Jeremy Hefner or Dillon Gee? Whoever loses his rotation spot when Zack Wheeler ultimately arrives, Terry Collins again cautioned Tuesday the top prospect will not solve the Mets’ woes.

"He's not going to be the savior," Collins said. "There are a lot of pieces that have to work. One guy is not going to turn this around, of course. It takes 25.

“Everybody is excited because he's a prospect. You look down the road with that arm and that stuff, he can be a good pitcher for a long time. But there are a lot of adjustments that have to be made by him, as Matt [Harvey] made them. That's why I had them locker next to each other in spring training. Maybe Matt could give him some of his advice -- some of the stuff he went through."

The Mets try to get on track at 7:05 tonight when Gee (3-6, 5.68 ERA) opposes right-hander Dan Haren (4-6, 5.09).

Before the game, the Mets will continue their annual tradition of visiting Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Thursday, the team hosts a blood drive at the Caesars Club at Citi Field from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Donors receive two tickets to a Mets game.

Wednesday’s news reports:

Bobby Parnell’s streak of seven straight successful save conversions ended with a 3-2 loss to the Nationals on Tuesday night, spoiling a solid outing from Hefner.

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

• Read more on Hefner in the Post.

US PresswireDavid Wright is second among NL third basemen in early All-Star voting, again trailing Pablo Sandoval.

• The Mets had a weak showing in the first balloting released for the July 16 All-Star Game at Citi Field. David Wright trails San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval by 127,176 votes at third base. John Buck ranks a distant third at catcher, trailing overall NL vote leader Buster Posey as well as Yadier Molina. Read more in the Daily News.

• Double-A Binghamton outfielder Cesar Puello could receive a hefty suspension now that Biogensis founder Tony Bosch has agreed to assist MLB’s performance-enhancing-drug investigation, Outside the Lines reports.

Jonathon Niese will test his shoulder today by throwing a bullpen session at Nationals Park. Niese, who missed his last start with tendinitis, is aiming to reenter the rotation Saturday against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field.

Al Leiter tells’s Andrew Marchand he would be interested in filling the U.S. Senate seat vacated with the death of Frank Lautenberg. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will make a temporary appointment until a special election is held Oct. 19.

Jeurys Familia will undergo surgery today in Manhattan to remove a bone spur and loose bodies from his right elbow. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger and Newsday.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis has eight homers in his past 14 Triple-A games, and Collins said the center fielder is back on the radar for a promotion.

• Nieuwenhuis’ two-homer game Tuesday lifted Las Vegas to a 6-5 win at Fresno. Erik Goeddel tossed seven scoreless innings in Binghamton’s 8-0 win against Trenton, the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate. Read the full minor league recap here.

Juan Lagares is active but not playing much, write Andrew Keh in the Times and Jared Diamond in the Journal. Arguably, that is a mistake by the organization, since the Mets might as well play youth and get them ready for when the team one day is again contending. At least there should be an opportunity for Lagares in the series finale. Right-hander Stephen Strasburg won’t face the Mets on Thursday because of a lat strain, but he is not landing on the DL. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez instead pitches on regular rest against the Mets.

From the bloggersRising Apple implores Mets fans to vote responsibly (unlike Giants fans) and send the deserving Wright and Daniel Murphy to the All-Star Game. … Wright personifies the Mets’ struggles, writes John Delcos at Mets Report.

BIRTHDAYS: Left-hander Paul Siebert, who appeared in relief for 52 games with the Mets in the ’70s, was born on this date in 1953.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets promote Kirk Nieuwenhuis?



Bartolo Colon
10 3.88 106 141
BAD. Murphy .292
HRL. Duda 18
RBIL. Duda 57
RD. Murphy 60
OPSL. Duda .856
ERAJ. Niese 3.23
SOZ. Wheeler 121