New York Mets: Todd Helton

Series preview: Mets at Rockies

April, 30, 2014
Apr 30
3:55
PM ET

Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY SportsLaTroy Hawkins, who signed for $2.5 million with the Rockies, is 9-for-9 in save conversions at age 41.
METS (15-11, second place/NL East) at COLORADO ROCKIES (16-12*, second place/NL West)

Thursday: RHP Bartolo Colon (2-3, 4.50) vs. RHP Juan Nicasio (2-1, 5.27), 8:40 p.m. ET

Friday: RHP Zack Wheeler (1-2, 3.99) vs. LHP Jorge De La Rosa (2-3, 5.23), 8:40 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Jenrry Mejia (3-0, 3.49) vs. LHP Franklin Morales (3-1, 4.40), 8:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Dillon Gee (2-1, 2.88) vs. RHP Jhoulys Chacin (0-0, -.--), 4:10 p.m. ET

* Rockies play at Arizona on Wednesday night

Rockies short hops

• Ex-Met LaTroy Hawkins is 9-for-9 in save conversions. The 41-year-old reliever signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal on Nov. 21. The contract includes a team option for 2015 at $2.25 million or a $250,000 buyout. Hawkins’ nine saves trail only Milwaukee’s Francisco Rodriguez (13) and San Diego’s Huston Street (10) in the National League. Dating to Hawkins’ Mets days, he actually has converted 19 straight saves. That is the second-longest streak of his career. He saved 23 straight from 2000 through ’01 while with the Minnesota Twins.

• The Rockies have the top three batting leaders in the National League: Charlie Blackmon (.379), Troy Tulowitzki (.376) and Justin Morneau (.357). Tulowitzki also has seven homers, one shy of league leaders Adrian Gonzalez and Giancarlo Stanton.

Morneau signed a two-year, $12.5 million deal with Colorado on Dec. 13 to succeed the retired Todd Helton at first base, after finishing last season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He entered Wednesday’s series finale at Phoenix with a 13-game hitting streak, during which he is hitting .396 with five homers, 19 RBIs and a 1.223 OPS. Morneau was named NL Player of the Week for April 14-20. Colorado will retire Helton’s No. 17 on Aug. 17.


David Zalubowski/Associated PressEric Young Jr. will spot a familiar face in the opposing dugout -- his father, Rockies first-base coach Eric Young.


• The Mets-Rockies series will be a family reunion for Eric Young and Eric Young Jr. The elder E.Y. was hired by the Rockies to serve as first-base coach, a position he held with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011 and ’12.

Tyler Chatwood left Tuesday’s start experiencing right-elbow tightness. Chatwood had surgery in October to remove a bone chip from that elbow. He also missed a month last season with tightness there. He opened this season on the DL with a left hamstring strain.

Jhoulys Chacin may step into that rotation spot Sunday against the Mets, although that has not yet been confirmed by the club. Chacin has been on the disabled list the season’s first month with a shoulder strain. He has appeared in four minor-league rehab games.

Michael Cuddyer may be activated from the disabled list on Saturday when he is eligible. He is recovering from a strained left hamstring. Cuddyer was hitting .317 with three homers in 60 at-bats when he suffered the injury. Brandon Barnes and Blackmon have handled the right-field duty in Cuddyer’s absence. The lefty-hitting Blackmon is stationed in center field when the righty-hitting Barnes starts in right field.

• Third baseman Nolan Arenado has a 19-game hitting streak through Tuesday. That is the longest hitting streak in the majors this season, surpassing 17-gamers from the Marlins’ Christian Yelich and White Sox’s Alexei Ramirez earlier this season.

• No. 1 catcher Wilin Rosario has been sidelined since Saturday with a bruised left hand, which he injured swinging. There was no fracture detected. Jordan Pacheco has started three straight games through Tuesday.

Carlos Gonzalez has not homered since April 11. He is hitting .156 (10-for-64) with three RBIs and three walks (one intentional) in his past 16 games (15 starts) through Tuesday. Gonzalez nonetheless is the only active player in the majors with a streak of four straight 20-homer, 20-steal seasons.

Morning Briefing: Harvey Day (Fish-free!)

August, 7, 2013
8/07/13
8:37
AM ET
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: Happy Matt Harvey Day!

Harvey is coming off a rough start -- at least by his standards -- against Miami, having allowed three runs in a 110-pitch effort over 5 2/3 innings. All three of his outings this season in which he has failed to complete six innings have come at Marlins Park.


Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesMatt Harvey has a 1.97 ERA against everyone other than Miami this season.


Harvey has a 3.52 ERA in four starts against Miami this season. He has a 1.97 ERA against the rest of baseball.

At 7:10 p.m., Harvey opposes right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (10-5, 3.40 ERA), who moved up a day because Tyler Chatwood is dealing with a hamstring issue. Chatwood, who was due to start the series opener, instead will attempt to pitch Thursday with two extra days of rest opposite Dillon Gee.

Wednesday’s news reports:

Bobby Parnell has a herniated disk in his neck and may face surgery, although Parnell described an invasive procedure as a last resort. He received an epidural Monday. LaTroy Hawkins handled Tuesday’s save, although Terry Collins indicated he would mix and match relievers in the closer’s role. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Daily News and Newsday.

• Wilmer Flores went 0-for-4 with an error at third base in his major league debut.

Mike Puma in the Post notes the fans clamoring over Flores is a clear indication of the lack of position-player prospects in the upper levels of the minors, as opposed to pitching with Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and others. Writes Puma:

It gets trickier in trying to identify the position players within the system who can potentially help the Mets anytime soon. There is Travis d’Arnaud, still projected as a top-tier catching prospect, and maybe Flores, provided the Mets find a position for him. Then the drop off is noticeable.

“It’s not as plentiful as the pitching options we have, that is for sure,” general manager Sandy Alderson said.

Alderson agreed with the assessment d’Arnaud and Flores are the immediate hopes from within the system, among non-pitchers.

“Until [Monday] we might have mentioned some additional players,” Alderson said, referring to outfielder Cesar Puello’s 50-game suspension for his Biogenesis involvement.

Read more in the Journal and Daily News.

Eric Young Jr.’s lunging catch of Todd Helton’s sinking liner stranded the bases loaded in the sixth. Young then hustled home from second on an infield single two innings later as the Mets beat the Rockies, 3-2, Tuesday night at Citi Field. Jenrry Mejia cruised into the sixth inning before getting into a jam. Mejia indicated his elbow felt fine after bothering him his previous start, in Miami. Ike Davis, back in the cleanup spot pretty much by default, went 2-for-2 with two walks and has a .500 on-base percentage since the All-Star break.

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

Jonathon Niese threw 80 pitches over five innings for Double-A Binghamton on Tuesday. The southpaw is expected to return from the DL on Sunday to face the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix.

The Mets plan to return to a six-man rotation at that point. That means next week that Mejia will pitch Monday at Dodger Stadium, followed by Harvey on Tuesday and Gee on Wednesday. In San Diego, it would be Jeremy Hefner on Thursday, followed by Zack Wheeler and then back to Niese and Mejia. Harvey would pitch the Aug. 19 makeup game at Minnesota.

• Francisco Pena’s three-run homer wasn’t enough as Las Vegas lost at Memphis, 5-3. Cory Vaughn produced six RBIs in Binghamton’s doubleheader sweep of Altoona. Read the full minor league recap here.


USA TODAY SportsJordany Valespin and Cesar Puello accepted 50-game suspensions.


• Alderson was noncommittal about whether Jordany Valdespin would remain with the organization once his 50-game suspension is served. The bet is Valdespin will be done with the organization.

Barbara Barker in Newsday gets reaction to Valdespin and Puello’s suspensions. "It's going to be tough when they come back," said Marlon Byrd, who was suspended 50 games last season while maintaining he unwittingly took a banned substance. "The hard part isn't all this. The hard part is walking to your car with your kids and having someone yell 'steroids' at you. But if you want to play this game, you just have to move past all that. It's not easy."

Byrd has maintained his innocence. “Our situations are not the same,” he told the Daily News. “He was trying to cheat and I wasn’t.” Read more in the Post.

Mets player rep Daniel Murphy discussed his reaction to the Biogenesis-related suspensions and stood by his embattled agents. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Newsday and Record.

• Brian Heyman in The Journal News catches up with Rockies manager Walt Weiss, a former Suffern star.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing hears from a disappointed Jaws of Defeat.

BIRTHDAYS: Kirk Nieuwenhuis turns 26. … Tyler Yates is 36. … Danny Graves is 40.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Has Ike Davis turned a corner?

Rapid Reaction: Mets 3, Rockies 2

August, 6, 2013
8/06/13
10:30
PM ET


NEW YORK -- A pair of ex-Rockies combined to lead the Mets to a 3-2 win against Colorado on Tuesday night.

Eric Young Jr., acquired from Colorado on June 18 for Collin McHugh, hustled to score the tiebreaking run from second base in the bottom of the eighth on a trickler infield single to the right side by Juan Lagares.

Young had combined with another ex-Rockie, Carlos Torres, to bail the Mets out in the sixth.


John Minchillo/Associated PressWilmer Flores went 0-for-4 with an error in his major league debut.


Torres had inherited the bases loaded from Jenrry Mejia with one out and coaxed a fly ball from Wilin Rosario to center field that was too shallow for a sacrifice fly. Young then made a lunging grab of Todd Helton’s sinking liner in shallow left field to end the half-inning and preserve a 2-all score.

Mejia had cruised through five innings, surrendering only an unearned run precipitated by an Ike Davis error. But after a lengthy delay early in the top of the sixth after plate umpire Manny Gonzalez was struck in the jaw with a bunted ball, play resumed and Mejia served up a game-tying homer to pinch-hitter Charlie Blackmon.

Mejia eventually departed with the bases loaded and one out that inning and was bailed out by Torres’ pitching and Young’s catch.

Mejia’s line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K. He threw 96 pitches (65 strikes) in a no-decision.

Mejia had been coming off an outing in Miami in which the bone spur in his pitching elbow was particularly bothersome.

Gonzalez, the first-ever Venezuelan ump in major league history, departed after Blackmon’s bunt hit the dirt in foul territory, bounced up and struck him in the jaw. Larry Vanover took over behind the plate after a delay and a three-man crew completed the game.

Closer call: LaTroy Hawkins was given the first save opportunity with Bobby Parnell on the DL and pitched a scoreless ninth. Hawkins earned his first save since May 6, 2012, as an Angel. He allowed a pair of two-out singles in the ninth, but stranded runners on the corners.

John Franco, Roberto Hernandez and Hawkins are now the 40-year-olds to have earned saves for the Mets.

Debutant: Wilmer Flores grounded back to Rockies starter Chad Bettis in his first major league at-bat and finished 0-for-4 in his debut, which came on his 22nd birthday. Flores, who had just started to again receive exposure to third base on Saturday with Triple-A Las Vegas, also committed a fielding error.

Flores departed for Justin Turner on a double-switch when Hawkins entered for the ninth.

That’s offensive: Lagares contributed a two-run triple in the first inning as the Mets grabbed a 2-0 lead. He officially finished with three RBIs after Young scored from second base on the eighth-inning infield single.

Davis, reinstalled in the cleanup spot, went 2-for-2 with a pair of doubles and two walks (one intentional).

What’s next: Matt Harvey Day! Harvey (8-3, 2.21 ERA) opposes right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (10-5, 3.40) at 7:10 p.m. Wednesday.

Series preview: Mets vs. Rockies

August, 5, 2013
8/05/13
6:28
PM ET

Getty ImagesThe Mets face (l to r) Tyler Chatwood, Chad Bettis and Jhoulys Chacin during a midweek series against the Colorado Rockies.
METS (49-60, third place/NL East) vs. COLORADO ROCKIES (52-61, fourth place/NL West)

Tuesday: RHP Jenrry Mejia (1-1, 2.08) vs. RHP Tyler Chatwood (7-4, 3.15), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Matt Harvey (8-3, 2.21) vs. RHP Chad Bettis (0-1, 9.00), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP Dillon Gee (7-8, 3.97) vs. RHP Jhoulys Chacin (10-5, 3.40), 12:10 p.m. ET

Rockies short hops

• Left fielder Carlos Gonzalez should land on the disabled list before Tuesday’s series opener after aggravating a right middle finger sprain in his final at-bat Sunday. Gonzalez has experienced multiple setbacks since originally suffering the injury on a July 7 swing. He pulled out of the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game because of the issue. Josh Rutledge may take the roster spot.

• The Rockies arrive at Citi Field having lost six of seven games during the first two stops on their road trip, at Atlanta and Pittsburgh. Since the All-Star break, Colorado pitchers have a 5.11 ERA.


Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Troy Tulowitzki has yet to hit his typical second-half stride.


• Closer Rafael Betancourt has missed the entire second half after undergoing an appendectomy. Left-hander Rex Brothers has handled the duty in Betancourt’s absence.

• The Rockies intend to pick up left-hander Jorge De La Rosa’s $11 million option for 2014. De La Rosa, 32, is 10-6 with a 3.31 ERA.

• Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is still getting his timing down at the plate and has yet to produce at his typically high second-half level since returning from the disabled list July 11. He missed 25 games with a fractured rib on his right side. Tulowitzki is a career .319 second-half hitter.

Jhoulys Chacin is coming off an outing in which he limited the Pirates to one run in eight innings to earn his 10th win. Chacin keeps the ball down, producing a 1.30 groundout-to-flyout ratio. He also has been the most efficient pitcher in Colorado’s rotation. In fact, 53 percent of his plate appearances end in three pitches or fewer and 72 percent end in four pitches or fewer -- both among the tops in the majors.

Michael Cuddyer finished third in the Home Run Derby with a combined 15 long balls between the first and second rounds. He left the Rockies on Thursday and Friday to be with his ill wife.

• The Rockies’ have lost their No. 5 starters' last 10 outings, going 0-4 apiece with Roy Oswalt and Drew Pomeranz and 0-1 apiece with ex-Met Collin McHugh and rookie Chad Bettis.

Bettis, 24, allowed five runs in five innings in his major league debut Thursday at Atlanta, including surrendering homers to Jason Heyward and Justin Upton. A second-round pick in 2010 out of Texas Tech who can register 97 mph with his fastball, Bettis had been promoted directly from Double-A Tulsa. He had missed the entire 2012 season with a shoulder issue.

Pomeranz had an 8.10 ERA in four starts before developing biceps tendinitis.

McHugh, acquired by the Rockies for Eric Young Jr., had the first shot to replace Pomeranz. But the ex-Met allowed six runs in five innings in his Rockies debut on July 27 against the Milwaukee Brewers and was returned to the minors, leading to Bettis’ chance.

Oswalt suffered a setback in his return from a left hamstring injury while pitching a simulated game Saturday in Pittsburgh. Because Oswalt is a free agent at season’s end, the Rockies could choose to leave Bettis in the rotation even when Oswalt ultimately is ready to return.

Tyler Chatwood enters Tuesday’s start off an outing in which he allowed eight runs (seven earned) in 2 1/3 innings against Atlanta. He is believed to be nursing a leg injury, although he has not acknowledged the issue. Despite the rocky last outing, Chatwood has been the most unforeseen success story among Rockies starting pitchers.

Todd Helton, who had started nine of the past 10 games for the Rockies, had a back issue resurface Sunday while pinch-hitting. Helton turns 40 on Aug. 20.

Dexter Fowler is 4-for-22 with five walks on the road trip.

• Reliever Adam Ottavino is a product of Brooklyn’s Berkeley Carroll High. He trains with Jose Reyes, Pedro Beato and other athletes at a Garden City, Long Island, facility during the offseason.

Rapid Reaction: Mets 3, Rockies 2

June, 27, 2013
6/27/13
9:03
PM ET
DENVER -- Three time zones and 11 games later, the Mets have completed a four-city trip and are ready to return to Citi Field.

Marlon Byrd sent them home happy.

In a makeup game from a snowy April series, Byrd’s two-run homer in the eighth against Matt Belisle lifted the Mets to a 3-2 victory against the Colorado Rockies on Thursday at Coors Field and spared Jeremy Hefner a hard-luck loss.

Byrd now has 12 homers, tied with David Wright and John Buck for the team lead. Byrd also threw out Michael Cuddyer trying to stretch a leadoff single into a double in the bottom of the ninth.

The first-pitch temperature this time: 95 degrees -- nearly 70 degrees warmer than the Mets' last trip here, when team executives were forced to pitch in with the snow removal at the stadium.

The Mets finished their trip to Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago (AL) and Colorado with a 7-4 record.

Scott Rice helped secure the victory, retiring Carlos Gonzalez for the final out of the eight with a runner in scoring position. Bobby Parnell earned his 14th save, benefiting from the Byrd throw.

Hef: Hefner again pitched strongly, limiting the Rockies to two runs (one earned) on five hits and one walk in six innings. He departed for pinch-hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis with his pitch count at 80 and the Mets trailing 2-1 in the top of the seventh and received a no-decision.

In each of Hefner's past four starts, errors have contributed to unearned runs. In fact, nine of the 14 runs Hefner has surrendered during that span have been unearned.

In Colorado's two-run second, Hefner surrendered a leadoff single to Cuddyer, which extended the cleanup hitter’s hitting streak to a Rockies-record 24 games. Wilin Rosario's double and Todd Helton's sacrifice fly then plated Cuddyer.

Rosario scored an unearned run from second base for a 2-0 Rockies lead on Nolan Arenado's ensuing groundout. Third baseman Zach Lutz, filling in for a resting Wright, fielded Arenado’s grounder cleanly and retired the Rockie at first base. But Josh Satin's throw back across the diamond to try to catch Rosario advancing to third was wide for an E-3 and Rosario trotted home.

Batty: The Mets did not muster a hit against Rockies starter Tyler Chatwood until Lutz's bloop single to right field in the fifth, after Satin had walked to lead off the inning. Juan Lagares followed with a bunt single down the third-base line to load the bases with none out, but the Mets came away with only one run.

Anthony Recker grounded into a fielder’s choice forceout at the plate. Hefner then narrowly beat out a double play at first as Lutz scored to trim the Mets' deficit to 2-1. Eric Young Jr., in his return to Colorado as a visitor, flied out in foul territory to end the threat.

An inning later, the Mets again loaded the bases, this time with two outs, but Chatwood struck out Lagares looking.

Quiet night: The ex-Rockie Young went 1-for-5 and grounded into a double play in his return to Coors Field. His hit came in his ninth-inning at-bat, with a two-out bloop over second base. Young had been 11-for-21 with six RBIs and two walks over his previous five games.

What’s next: Matt Harvey Day at Citi Field.

Harvey (7-1, 2.05 ERA) opposes Washington Nationals left-hander Ross Detwiler (2-6, 4.18) in Friday’s 7:10 p.m. series opener. Harvey flew directly from Chicago to New York on Wednesday, bypassing the Denver leg of the trip to ensure optimal rest.

Rapid Reaction: Rockies 11, Mets 3

April, 18, 2013
4/18/13
6:05
PM ET


WHAT IT MEANS: The Mets were swept in a snow-shortened series at Colorado with an 11-3 loss Thursday afternoon.

The first-pitch temperature officially was 28 degrees -- matching the lowest recorded in the 20-year history of baseball in Denver.

The Mets (7-7) fell to .500.

Jack Dempsey/Associated PressTerry Collins argues a non-call during Thursday's game.
After dropping two of three in Philadelphia, then winning both games in an abbreviated series at Minnesota, the Mets lost three straight against the Rockies to complete the three-city trip.

The Mets have now lost a franchise-record seven straight games to Colorado.

Wednesday's postponed game will be made up June 27 at 6:10 p.m. ET at Coors Field.

POISON PEN: Colorado posted six runs in the seventh -- all with two outs -- against Josh Edgin, Scott Atchison and Jeurys Familia to turn a 3-2 score into a rout.

The big blows came on a two-run single by Wilin Rosario and a two-run double by Todd Helton, both against Atchison. Two runs were charged to Edgin. Three runs were charged to Atchison. One was charged to Familia, who was making his first appearance since returning from Triple-A Las Vegas.

Jeremy Hefner -- working in relief in preparation for Saturday’s start, since he had not pitched since April 10 -- surrendered solo homers to Dexter Fowler and Troy Tulowitzki in the eighth.

In the three-game series, Mets relievers allowed 18 runs (16 earned) and 22 hits in 11 innings.

ALMOST FAMOUS: David Wright twice drove in Daniel Murphy, the second instance in the sixth to even the score at 2.

Tulowitzki answered a half-inning later, though. Tulo’s RBI single in the bottom of the sixth scored Carlos Gonzalez, who had doubled and advanced to third base on an error by left fielder Jordany Valdespin.

Gonzalez went 8-for-13 with four extra-base hits in the series.

Wright went 2-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs on Thursday. He is now hitting .392 with 38 RBIs in 32 career games at Coors Field.

Trailing 3-2, the Mets got a one-out double from Marlon Byrd in the seventh against Jon Garland, but stranded Byrd in scoring position when Mike Baxter and Ruben Tejada grounded out.

L: Jonathon Niese suffered his first 2013 loss. He allowed three runs on nine hits and one walk while striking out three in a 96-pitch effort spanning six innings. Niese (2-1) surrendered a fourth-inning solo homer to Josh Rutledge.

WHAT’S NEXT: Matt Harvey and Stephen Strasburg face off Friday night at Citi Field as the Mets open a nine-game homestand. The Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies visit Queens.

Rapid Reaction: Rockies 8, Mets 4

April, 16, 2013
4/16/13
8:12
PM ET


WHAT IT MEANS: After winter-related postponements in two different cities, the Mets resumed play and were cooled off by the Colorado Rockies.

David Wright homered twice, but Dillon Gee struggled and the Mets lost to the Rockies, 8-4, in Game 1 of a doubleheader Tuesday at Coors Field.

WRIGHT STUFF: Wright produced the 19th two-homer game of his career.

He opened the scoring with a two-run shot in the first inning, then produced a solo shot in the fifth that gave the Mets a 4-2 lead. Both homers came against Rockies starter Juan Nicasio.

Only Darryl Strawberry (22) has more multi-homer games as a Met.

Wright is now batting .398 (45-for-113) with 10 homers and 36 RBIs in 30 career games at Coors Field.

The Mets have now homered in 12 straight games, matching the longest streak in the majors to open a season since Tampa Bay in 2007.

OH GEEZ: Gee’s woes continued. He walked Michael Cuddyer with the bases loaded in the fifth to force in a run, then surrendered a two-run single to Todd Helton that gave Colorado a 5-4 lead.

Gee earlier had surrendered a solo homer to Carlos Gonzalez.

Gee was charged with five earned runs on seven hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings. He also had a wild pitch and plunked Troy Tulowitzki in the left elbow with a pitch.

Gee had lasted only three innings and surrendered seven runs at Philly last Tuesday. He is now 0-3 with an 8.36 ERA.

SNOW WORRIES: Game 1 started at 5:12 p.m. ET, which was 122 minutes after scheduled.

The reason: eight inches of snow fell overnight at Coors Field, and the staff struggled to remove the accumulation.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort -- who joined in with a shovel -- said the large snowfall caught the organization off-guard and they nearly did not have enough staff on hand to remove the snow.

Office workers, some wearing suits, volunteered to shovel during the nearly seven-hour snow removal process. Otherwise, Monfort said, the Rockies did not have enough personnel on hand for even a delayed start.

The Rockies borrowed some shovels from the Denver Broncos.

It was 39 degrees at the first pitch.

“As you can tell now, had we not had 100 or 150 people out there, we would have never got it off,” Monfort said. “… I know this: I talked to ‘Razz’ (head groundskeeper Mark Razum) right when I got here and he said, ‘I don’t know how we’re going to get this done.’”

WHAT’S NEXT: After a quick turnaround, Aaron Laffey gets the start in the doubleheader nightcap. He faces fellow left-hander Jeff Francis at 8:40 p.m. ET.

Toxicology report -- bad MLB contracts

September, 25, 2012
9/25/12
8:18
AM ET

US Presswire
Vernon Wells, Juan Uribe and Chone Figgins (l to r) are among the bloated contracts around Major League Baseball.
The Mets’ first task this offseason regarding Jason Bay, and for that matter Johan Santana, likely should be to see if any team has trade interest. A swap appears unlikely, though, even discounting the no-trade clause each possesses.

After all, Bay is hitting .155 with eight homers in 187 at-bats. And he is owed $19 million next season including a 2014 buyout, making it a toxic contract.

Similarly, Santana -- despite the June 1 no-hitter -- finishes the season on the DL after allowing six-plus runs in each of his final five starts. Santana is owed $31 million next season including a ’14 buyout.

Still, if the Mets were to find another team with toxic contracts to swap, who is logical? With the help of reporters around baseball, here’s a look …

THEY’VE GOT POTENTIAL

Angels: “Oh, you've come to the right place,” our friend who covers the Angels says. “The Angels have the deadest of dead weight -- Vernon Wells. The Angels are paying Wells $21 million this year to be their fourth outfielder. They owe him $21 million more in 2013 and again in 2014.”

Blue Jays: Left fielder/first baseman Adam Lind (.240, 10 HR, 40 RBIs) is owed $5 million in 2013. With buyouts of option years, the minimum owed is $7 million. “He cleared waivers at one point this season and the Blue Jays would love to get rid of his contract -- even though it's unlikely that can happen,” a team observer said.

Braves: Second baseman Dan Uggla (.215, 19 HR, 73 RBIs) is owed $39 million over the next three seasons.

Cubs: Alfonso Soriano ($18 million apiece in 2013 and ’14) and Carlos Marmol ($9.8 million next season) are the remaining sizable contracts.

Dodgers: The Dodgers inherited Carl Crawford ($102.5 million through 2017) and Josh Beckett ($31.5 million through 2014) while acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, but both should contribute. The least-productive contract: Juan Uribe, who finally pinch hit Sunday after going unused for nearly a month. Uribe, with one year remaining, is still owed $8 million.

Mariners: Left fielder Chone Figgins (.183, 2 HR, 11 RBIs) is owed $8 million next season. Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez (.258, 4 HR, 14 RBIs) is owed $7.5 million in 2013 with a buyout of the following season. Says one observer: “Gutierrez has been hurt or sick for most of his deal and might produce if ever healthy. Figgins is literally dead weight.” Bay does live in the offseason in Seattle. And the combined $15.5 million owed to those two are close to Bay's $19 million.

Marlins: Heath Bell has two years, $18 million guaranteed remaining. He also has a $9 million option for 2015 based on games finished -- 55 the previous season or 100 combined in 2013 and '14. (The Mets have been down that route before.)

Pirates: Clint Barmes is signed for 2013 at $5.5 million. He's hitting .228/.266/.325 with eight homers.

Red Sox: John Lackey (12-12, 6.41 ERA) has two years left for a combined $30.5 million, with a 2015 club option at the major league minimum because of a preexisting elbow injury.

Twins: Nick Blackburn (4-9, 7.39 ERA) and middle infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka -- both relegated to the minors -- are under contract for 2013 and “practically sunken cost.” Blackburn is owed $5.5 million. Nishioka is owed $3.25 million including a 2014 buyout. The Twins likely would never trade Joe Mauer, despite him being owed $23 million annually through 2018.

Yankees: Alex Rodriguez to Flushing? Don't hold your breath. Still, A-Rod is owed $114 million over the next five seasons. Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia could emerge as bad contracts, with $90 million over four seasons and $119 million over five seasons owed, respectively.

(Read full post)

Series preview: Mets vs. Rockies

August, 20, 2012
8/20/12
10:20
AM ET

US Presswire/Getty Images
Rockies players (l to r) Troy Tulowitzki, Michael Cuddyer and Todd Helton are all on the disabled list, leaving Colorado a skeleton crew.
METS (57-64, third place/NL East) vs. COLORADO ROCKIES (46-73, fifth place/NL West)

Monday: RHP R.A. Dickey (15-4, 2.89) vs. RHP Alex White (2-6, 5.74), 7:10 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Chris Young (3-6, 4.50) vs. RHP Jhoulys Chacin (0-3, 7.30), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Matt Harvey (2-3, 3.00) vs. LHP Jeff Francis (4-4, 6.07), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: LHP Johan Santana (6-9, 4.85) vs. RHP Tyler Chatwood (3-3, 5.46), 1:10 p.m. ET

Rockies short hops

• Right fielder Michael Cuddyer landed back on the disabled list with a right oblique strain and could be lost for the season. He had missed two weeks, then returned for three games. Cuddyer (.260, 16 HR, 58 RBIs) signed a three-year, $31.5 million deal in December.

Also sidelined:

Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki underwent surgery to repair a strained left groin on June 21. Tulowitzki originally suffered the injury running out of the batter’s box on May 30. He is due to be with the Rockies in New York, but inactive. He ran the bases Saturday, but is not due to begin a rehab assignment until next week.

First baseman Todd Helton underwent season-ending surgery on Aug. 10 to repair a torn labrum in his right hip.

Jason Giambi has been out since July 20 with a viral infection. He has started taking batting practice and fielding grounders, but is not expected back until the end of the month.

Tyler Colvin and Jordan Pacheco have shared first base with Helton out, while Pacheco otherwise teams with Chris Nelson to man third base.

Josh Rutledge, who made his major league debut July 13, is the shortstop minus Tulowitzki. But Rutledge suffered his own injury Sunday, leaving the game in the fourth inning after tweaking a previously strained left quadriceps. Presuming he’s healthy, Rutledge should move to second base once Tulowitzki returns.

Eric Young, who is hitting .426 in 13 games since Aug. 6 and showing uncharacteristic power in addition to his customary speed, and Colvin have subbed for Cuddyer in right field. But Young, too, was forced from Sunday’s game after straining a rib-cage muscle. Young predicted his absence would be limited to a “game or two.”


Chris Humphreys/US Presswire
Jhoulys Chacin returns from a pec muscle injury that sidelined him since May.


Nelson returned Aug. 6 from a DL trip for an irregular heartbeat. Pacheco ranks among the leaders in NL rookie offensive categories, including average at .312, although his 339 plate appearances are narrowly shy of qualifying.

• Right-hander Jhoulys Chacin will make his first major league appearance since straining a pectoral muscle. He landed on the DL after a May 1 start. He will be on roughly a 75-pitch limit. He tossed 91 pitches over seven innings Thursday with Triple-A Colorado Springs.

The Rockies have employed a four-man rotation with pitch counts in the 70s under manager Jim Tracy, so Chacin could alternate starts with Drew Pomeranz going forward to keep the rookie Pomeranz’s innings in check. The four-man rotation began out of necessity in Philly in mid-June due to a lack of quality arms after Jeremy Guthrie’s struggles got him bounced from the rotation to the bullpen. Three bullpen arms piggyback the starters to handle middle innings.

• Left fielder Carlos Gonzalez was placed on bereavement leave and traveled to Venezuela on Saturday to mourn the death of his grandfather. He likely will return Tuesday, but is eligible to miss as much as a full week.

Tyler Chatwood, acquired from the Angels on Nov. 30 for Chris Iannetta, has a 3.93 ERA in four starts since returning from a one-month stint in the minors. Standing a modest 5-foot-11, the 22-year-old Chatwood doesn’t throw downhill. So his 95 mph fastball needs location; otherwise it can be flat and hittable.

• The Rockies traded Marco Scutaro to San Francisco for infielder Charlie Culberson on July 27. D.J. LeMahieu, acquired from the Cubs last offseason with Colvin for Ian Stewart, has taken over at second base.

• The Mets seriously discussed acquiring catcher Ramon Hernandez from the Rockies before the July 31 trade deadline, but ultimately obtained Kelly Shoppach this month. Rookie catcher Wilin Rosario now handles the bulk of the duty for Colorado. Rosario is six homers shy of matching the Rockies’ rookie record, established by Helton with 25 in 1998. His defensive skills do not match his plate prowess.

Alex White will make his fifth start since being recalled from the minors on Aug. 2. His return coincided with Jonathan Sanchez suffering from left biceps tendinitis.

• Left-hander Jeff Francis’ Aug. 13 win gave him 59 victories as a Rockie, passing Jason Jennings for second on the franchise’s all-time list. The leader: Aaron Cook, with 72 wins.

• Reliever Adam Ottavino is a local product. He graduated from Berkeley Carroll High School in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and has trained during the winter at the same Garden City, L.I., facility as several local Mets players the past few years, including now-departed Jose Reyes and Pedro Beato.

Last series results

Mets won, 2-1, at Coors Field, April 27-29 (AP game recaps)

Rockies 18, Mets 9: Carlos Gonzalez was at the center of an 11-run fifth inning, hitting a homer and a single for five of his six RBIs, and the Rockies overcame Scott Hairston's cycle. Ramon Hernandez hit his sixth career grand slam -- the first for the Rockies this season -- and Troy Tulowitzki and Dexter Fowler also homered for Colorado, which set a season high for runs. Hairston became the 10th player in team history and first in the majors this season to hit for the cycle. He drove in four runs, but it wasn't enough on a night when pitching was an afterthought. More

Mets 7, Rockies 5: Dillon Gee shook off the rough patch in an otherwise strong outing and Lucas Duda backed him with a homer and single to drive in four runs. Gee allowed four runs in seven innings. He struck out seven and walked two, and seemed to be at his best late in his outing, retiring nine of the last 10 batters he faced. More

Mets 6, Rockies 5 (11 innings): Ike Davis singled in the go-ahead run off reliever Matt Belisle in the 11th inning and the Mets overcame two tying homers allowed by their bullpen. Johan Santana, looking for his first win since September 2010, left with a 4-0 lead after six innings but Tim Byrdak gave up pinch-hitter Todd Helton's grand slam in the eighth. Kirk Nieuwenhuis put the Mets ahead again with an RBI double in the 10th before Frank Francisco served up Carlos Gonzalez's solo homer in the bottom half. David Wright started the 11th with a single off Belisle (1-2) and went to third on Lucas Duda's single. After Scott Hairston hit into a fielder's choice, Davis' sharp grounder finally rescued the Mets. More

The week in 'MET'rics (April 26-May 2)

May, 3, 2012
5/03/12
10:00
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A pitch-by-pitch look at Justin Turner's 13-pitch walk last Thursday.
An eventful trip to Colorado highlights our Mets week in review. As always, much of our assistance comes from the great work done at Baseball-Reference.com.

Stat of the Week
The Mets finished April with a 13-10 record despite being outscored by 20 runs for the month (111-91).

The last time the Mets finished a month with a winning record and were outscored by at least 20 runs was in June, 1997, when they went 15-12 despite being outscored 147-122.

That team, managed by Bobby Valentine, lost games in June by scores of 10-0, 10-1, 14-7, and 14-0, but was boosted by a 6-2 record in one-run games (same as the 2012 Mets had in April).

Turner’s Magic Moment
Justin Turner’s 13-pitch game-tying walk versus Heath Bell in the ninth inning of last Thursday’s win over the Marlins brought back memories of Shawon Dunston’s marathon at-bat in the 15th inning of Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS against the Braves. It also made for an easy choice for Moment of the Week.

Baseball-Reference.com has pitch-by-pitch data for most games back to 1990 and has no other instances of a game-tying walk in the ninth inning or later in a plate appearance that lasted at least 10 pitches.

It does have five instances of go-ahead walks of 10-plus pitches that late in a game (including one by Carlos Delgado for the 2007 Mets), but none lasting as long as Turner’s.

This was the longest plate appearance of Turner’s career, the first longer than 10 pitches. It matched the longest plate appearance of the season for the Mets, who got a 13-pitch appearance from Josh Thole against the Braves on April 17.

The longest recorded plate appearance by a Met is the 16-pitch battle that ended with a walk by Ruben Tejada against Antonio Bastardo and the Phillies on May 27, 2011.

Other notes from that game:
The Mets used an all homegrown lineup for the third time in team history and the first time since September 19, 1971.

This was the Mets third walk-off win of the month. It marked the fifth time that they won at least three games in April via walk-off, the first since 2008. The club record for walk-off wins in April is four, set in 1985.

This was the third time the Mets won a game via walk-off in which they drew at least four walks in the ninth inning against the losing reliever. The other such instances were in 1969 (against Joe Gibbon of the Giants) and 2002 (against Vic Darensbourg of the Marlins).

Metsiepalooza
Last weekend, a group of Mets fans gathered at Hofstra University for a three-day symposium on the 50th anniversary of the team.

One of the statistical highlights of the symposium was a presentation by Craig Glaser of Bloomberg Sports, who showed that the odds of the Mets having no no-hitters in their history were approximately the same as them having between 11 and 13 no-hitters in their history.

My favorite stat that I shared from the conference stemmed from a discussion on underrated Mets, at which point I cited John DeMerit.

DeMerit was 3-for-16 in 14 games with the 1962 Mets, but because of the manner in which he was used (pinch-hitter, defensive replacement), the team went 11-3 when he played. They went 29-117 when he didn’t.

Hairston’s bizarre cycle
Scott Hairston matched original Met Jim Hickman for the quickest cycle in Mets history in the loss to the Rockies last Friday.

Hickman and Hairston each got the four needed hits within the first six innings of the game, with Hickman doing so in 1963 against the Cardinals.

The Elias Sports Bureau chimed in with a couple of statistical lowlights from this game:

The Mets four errors in the fifth inning were their most in an inning since making four in the eighth inning against the Cardinals on April 4, 1996. They allowed 11 runs in an inning for the first time since April 7, 2004 against the Braves.

Dillon’s Birthday earns a Gee Whiz
Dillon Gee beat the Rockies last Saturday night to earn the win on his 26th birthday. Gee became the first Mets starter to pitch on his birthday since Mark Clark in 1996, and the first to win on his birthday since Dave Mlicki in 1995.

The youngest Mets starter to earn a win on his birthday was SNY’s Ron Darling, who won on his 25th birthday in 1985. He’d win again on his 26th birthday the next year. The other two Mets starters to win on their birthday are Ray Burris (1980, 30th) and Wally Whitehurst (1991, 27th)

Mets starters are now 6-1 with two no-decisions in nine career starts on their birthday. Mets relievers are 4-2, with the most recent win coming from John Franco in 2001.

Extra, Extra
The Mets 11-inning win in the series finale at Coors Field last Sunday brought back memories of the ballpark’s opener in 1995, when the Mets blew repeated leads and lost to the Rockies in 14 innings on Dante Bichette’s walk-off home run.

Sunday’s win marked the first extra-inning victory for the Mets at Coors Field in the ballpark’s 18-year history. They’d lost in extra innings on each of the two previous bonus-baseball occasions.

The quirk of the week: The Mets are 3-0 this season when Johan Santana gets a no-decision. They were 3-10 in the previous 13 games in which he got a no-decision.

Since joining the Mets in 2008, Santana has six starts in which he allowed no runs and got a no-decision. No other Met has more than two such starts in that span.

Astro-doom
The losses in the last three games to the Astros were statistically-forgettable games.

The weirdest thing that happened was on Monday when the Astros had four different pitchers each record a single out.

It’s the fourth time in Mets history that the Mets dealt with a quartet of one-out pitchers, the first since 2004, and the second time against the Astros (it previously happened in 1974).

Wednesday's finale got off to a rough start when Ruben Tejada doubled to lead off the game, then was thrown out at third base trying to extend it to a triple. It was the second time in Mets history that that happened. The other would-be tripler nailed was Jose Reyes in 2008.

Chris Johnson closed the Mets out with a four-hit, six-RBI game on Wednesday, the 11th such game against the Mets in their history. He joins a list of players to do that that includes Hank Aaron, Tom Pagnozzi and Cody Ross.

Vintage Metric of the Week
Todd Helton’s game-tying grand slam in that Sunday win serves as the springboard for this week’s flashback.

It was the unlucky 13th pinch-hit grand slam allowed by a Mets pitcher, the first since Aaron Heilman yielded one to Mark Loretta in the eighth-inning of a tie game in 2008.

But what leads to our time-machine trip is this note:

The Mets had only given up one game-tying pinch-hit grand slam in their history prior to Sunday—on July 2, 1969 when Ron Taylor allowed one in the eighth inning to Vic Davalillo of the Cardinals, also in a game that the Mets were winning at the time, 4-0.

This was one of the more remarkable games of that miraculous season in that the Mets managed to win despite the Cardinals having multiple chances to close them out.

The Mets threw out the potential winning run at home in the ninth inning, and escaped subsequent bases-loaded jams in the 10th and 13th innings before prevailing in 14 frames, 6-4.

We’ll see if the 2012 Mets have that kind of perseverance.

Mets morning briefing 4.30.12

April, 30, 2012
4/30/12
1:34
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Johan Santana tossed six scoreless innings. Yet the southpaw was saddled with a no-decision because Todd Helton belted a grand slam in the eighth off Tim Byrdak. Frank Francisco blew his first save as a Met by also surrendering a game-tying homer, on a solo shot by Carlos Gonzalez in the 10th. But the Mets ultimately prevailed on Ike Davis' RBI single in the 11th to win Sunday's rubber game at Coors Field, 6-5.

Monday's news reports:

• Santana remained winless this season, despite having allowed one run or fewer in all but one of his starts. It marks the first time since his rookie season in 2000 with the Minnesota Twins that Santana has failed to be credited with a victory in any of his opening five starts of a season. Terry Collins had a logical explanation for pulling Santana at 90 pitches after six scoreless innings. Santana was working on standard rest for the first time in the regular season since undergoing Sept. 14, 2010 surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. Santana also was coming off his highest pitch count since his comeback. He had tossed 105 pitches against the Miami Marlins on Tuesday.

• After completing a rehab assignment Saturday with Triple-A Buffalo, Andres Torres is due to be activated from the disabled list Monday in Houston. Assistant GM John Ricco announced righty-hitting corner infielder Zach Lutz would be demoted over Jordany Valdespin to create roster room. The biggest curiosity is the outfield alignment with Torres back. Collins announced pregame that Kirk Nieuwenhuis would move to left field, a position he has never played. After the game, and after Nieuwenhuis had a highlight-reel diving catch in left-center to keep Santana's outing scoreless in the fifth, Collins wavered slightly. Torres has started 30 major league games in left field. Still, Collins indicated, Nieuwenhuis is more likely than Torres to be in left field on Monday when the Mets face Astros right-hander Bud Norris at Minute Maid Park.

Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger suggests the perception among a segment of fans that Torres is an inferior center fielder to Nieuwenhuis is misguided. Writes McCullough:

Torres is the more accomplished fielder. From 2009 to 2011, he ranked seventh among center fielders in Ultimate Zone Rating, an advanced metric that attempts to quantify how many runs a defender saves. During that time period, Torres saved 19.4 runs while with San Francisco. Heading into the season, scouts questioned Nieuwenhuis’ ability to handle center field full-time. But he’s performed a series of high-wire catches since becoming the team’s regular there the second game of the season.

Read more in the Post, Daily News and Newsday.

• In part to build team chemistry, Mets veterans suggested in spring training that players and staff wear western apparel during the trip from Denver to Houston. R.A. Dickey had an elaborate sheriff's outfit complete with fake gun, holster and badge. Daniel Murphy introduced pink to his cowboy ensemble. David Wright, Mike Nickeas and bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello dressed as the colorful "Three Amigos," complete with sombreros and fake mustaches. Mets players similarly plan a hockey-themed attire day for the May 18-20 interleague series at Toronto, during a trip that continues in Pittsburgh. See dress-up photos here.

• Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning visited Coors Field on Sunday. He attended the University of Tennessee along with Dickey and Helton, and is particularly friendly with the Rockies first baseman. Wright, while wearing his sombrero and fake mustache, bumped into Manning while entering the stadium in the morning, which amused the older brother of Eli. Read more in Newsday.

• Davis confessed to thinking back to his season-ending ankle injury in Denver last May 10 as he fielded a 10th-inning popup Sunday. Wright stayed out of the way this time.

Ruben Tejada had 10 hits in the three-game series and is now hitting .310. The last Met to have 10 hits in a three games series? That was Edgardo Alfonzo in 2000, also against Colorado. If Tejada has another three-hit game Monday in Houston, he will match the franchise record for consecutive three-plus-hit games. Brett Butler accomplished the feat in four straight games in 1995. Read more in Newsday.

• Read game recaps from Sunday's seesaw affair in the Post, Star-Ledger, Times, Daily News, Record, Journal and Newsday.

Zack Wheeler -- who had been the victim of a lack of run support -- finally picked up his first Double-A win, and 2008 first-round pick Reese Havens returned from injury with a homer in his first 2012 at-bat, as Binghamton beat Erie, 7-1, Sunday. Read the full minor league recap here.

• Broadcaster Howie Rose, who skipped the weekend series in Denver, was inducted into the Nationals Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum at Commack, Long Island, on Sunday. Wrote Steven Marcus in Newsday:

When he and his friends went to Shea and the Mets won, Rose recalled one of his chums yelling, "Put it in the books!'' It became Rose's signature line. Rose, who lives in Woodbury, also calls Islanders games on TV but is famously known for calling Stephane Matteau's winning goal in the second overtime for the Rangers against the Devils in the Eastern Conference finals during the 1994 run to the Stanley Cup. "I'm amazed 18 years later at how the Matteau call has endured,'' Rose said. "There are very few days when I'm in a public setting where somebody doesn't yell out 'Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!' " Rose, 58, also thanked Marv Albert for being an early mentor.

TRIVIA: Who did the Mets receive when they traded Mike Scott to the Astros on Dec. 10, 1982?

Sunday's answer: Larry Dierker won 14 career games against the Mets, the most of any Houston pitcher. Joe Niekro and Don Wilson rank second on that list with 12 career wins apiece against the Mets.

Rapid Reaction: Mets 6, Rockies 5 (11)

April, 29, 2012
4/29/12
7:11
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WHAT IT MEANS: Johan Santana finally received run support. Still he deserved better.

After tossing six scoreless innings and departing with a four-run lead, Santana gave way to the bullpen with his pitch count at 90.

With two out in the eighth, Todd Helton then blasted a game-tying pinch-hit grand slam off Tim Byrdak that deprived Santana of his first win since before Sept. 14, 2010, surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder.

Byrdak had inherited three baserunners from Jon Rauch.

After walking former Twins teammate Michael Cuddyer to load the bases, Rauch had left the mound displeased with plate umpire Paul Emmel’s strike zone. Rauch’s streak of 10 scoreless innings to open his Mets career was snapped.

The Mets appeared poised to salvage the rubber game on Kirk Nieuwenhuis' RBI double against Matt Belisle in the top of the 10th that scored Mike Baxter. Baxter had reached base with a single that lifted him to 5-for-11 with two walks as a pinch hitter this season. But Frank Francisco served up a solo homer to Carlos Gonzalez in the bottom half for the closer's first blown save in six chances as a Met. Francisco has allowed at least one run in five of his past six outings.

Ike Davis then gave the Mets the lead for good in the 6-5, 11-inning victory with a single through the left side of the infield in the 11th against Belisle that plated David Wright. Wright went 2-for-3 with three walks to lift his average to .397. He also drove in the game's opening two runs. Ramon Ramirez notched his first Mets save.

OY: Santana is now winless in his first five starts of a season for the first time since his rookie season in 2000 with the Twins.

Pitching in Denver for the first time in his career, and pitching on standard rest for the first time this season, he surrendered only two hits in his six scoreless innings.

Throw out Santana's debacle in Atlanta -- when he was chased after recording a career-low four outs -- and he has allowed two runs in 22 2/3 innings over his other four starts.

The southpaw has not given up a run in 22 innings against the Rockies in his career. That is the longest scoreless-inning streak against Colorado by any major league pitcher to open his career, passing John Grabow’s 18 1/3 scoreless innings, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Terry Mulholland now ranks third with 17 scoreless innings against the Rockies to open his career, followed by Mike Adams with 16 1/3.

After failing to score while Santana was pitching in any of his first four starts, Wright delivered a two-run double in a three-run first inning against 49-year-old Jamie Moyer. Santana received stellar defense too in the form of another “Nieuwenheist.”

Nieuwenhuis, playing in the city where he starred as a high school football running back, robbed pinch hitter Jonathan Herrera of a run-scoring extra-base hit with a highlight-reel diving catch in the fifth inning.

Terry Collins pulled Santana at 90 pitches with the 4-0 lead -- presumably since this was Santana’s first time working on standard rest in a regular-season game since returning from shoulder surgery. Santana had thrown a season-high 105 pitches against the Marlins five days earlier.

MILE HIGH: Ruben Tejada received generous scoring for his final hit of the series, in the sixth inning. And that allowed Jose Reyes’ successor to accomplish something Reyes never did -- produce 10 hits in a three-game series. Tejada went 10-for-16 at Coors Field.

He became the first Met to produce that many hits in a three-game series since Edgardo Alfonzo, also against the Rockies, had 10 hits in April 2000.

Wright, meanwhile, went 1-for-2 with an intentional walk in three plate appearances against Moyer and is now hitting .418 with 16 RBIs in 55 career at-bats against the veteran southpaw.

Josh Thole had staked the Mets to a 4-0 lead with a solo homer against Moyer. It was Thole’s first long ball since Aug. 15, 2011, against San Diego’s Aaron Harang.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Mets, dressed in western apparel for team bonding, fly to Houston. It’s the Mets’ last visit before the Astros move to the American League West.

Andres Torres is due to be activated from the disabled list, pushing Nieuwenhuis to left field for the first time in his pro career. R.A. Dickey (3-1, 4.44 ERA) opposes Astros right-hander Bud Norris (1-1, 5.24) in Monday’s series opener.

The Mets appear inclined to keep righty-hitting Zach Lutz for the bench and demote Jordany Valdespin to clear roster room for Torres. Houston has lost six straight series.

Mike Pelfrey, meanwhile, is due to visit Dr. James Andrews in Gulf Breeze, Fla., on Monday. He is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery.

Peyton gets surprised by Wright look

April, 29, 2012
4/29/12
1:47
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Adam Rubin
Peyton Manning chats with David Wright during batting practice Sunday at Coors Field.
Peyton Manning, visiting Coors Field for Sunday's Mets-Rockies game, bumped into David Wright entering the stadium and did a double take. Wright, participating in a Met-themed western dress day for the postgame trip to Houston, was wearing a sombrero and fake mustache.

Manning also got to reunite with fellow former Tennessee Volunteer R.A. Dickey. The new Denver Broncos QB already is close with Rockies slugger Todd Helton, another former Vol, who actually preceded him as UT quarterback and gave way to Manning because of an injury.

"It caught me off guard," Manning said about entering the stadium alongside costumed Mets. "Jon Rauch almost broke my hand shaking hands with him. And he introduced me to some Mets teammates. And I heard this guy say, 'David Wright.' I was like, 'That isn't David Wright.' He was in a full mustache, sombrero -- the full hat. It caught me off-guard.

"I was glad to see him in his normal Met uniform [during batting practice]. That's a good deal. I know baseball has some unique traditions and customs. That was kind of fun to witness."

How well did Manning know Dickey at UT?

"R.A. is my age," Manning said. "R.A. was in school with me. It was great seeing him. I was sure to get a picture of he and Todd and I. It's pretty good for R.A.'s 35, I'm 36, Todd's -- how old is Todd? -- 38. Pretty good for three guys who were all in school at the same time back in the mid-'90s to still be doing it.

"I'm real proud of R.A., what he has accomplished and conquered. The Tennessee Volunteers all keep up with each other. It was good to see him today."

Broncos receiver Eric Decker accompanied Manning. Decker took batting practice, but not Manning.

"Decker played college baseball [at Minnesota], so he wanted to do it. I thought he represented the Broncos well today hitting two home runs," Manning said. "Some guys were debating whether he would hit any out today. So I'll be glad to deliver the good news that he hit two out. I'm pretty sure he'll walk tall all week over there at Dove Valley [training facility]."

Manning previously has taken batting practice with the Rockies. He joked that ex-Minnesota Twin Michael Cuddyer now has his locker. Manning spent a week at Coors Field training last summer while rehabbing.

"I've been here a number of times to see Todd play," he said. "I was here last year during the lockout to work out. I've taken BP a couple of times. It's always great. The people with the Rockies have been so great kind of hosting us. So it's kind of great to be here as a member of the home team, not as a visitor. I've spent a lot of time here at this ballpark. I'm glad to be here full time."

Manning said he is a big baseball fan. He used to be a shortstop.

"I love baseball," he said. "I grew up playing baseball. My dad was a big baseball fan growing up. He played for Ole Miss and he was drafted. He was a Yankee fan growing up. I was always a Cardinal fan growing up. But, really, since I got to college, I really haven't been in a Major League Baseball town anywhere I've been -- New Orleans, Knoxville, Indianapolis. So really, since I've been in pro ball, the Rockies have been the team that I've kept up with, the team that I checked the boxscore, checked to see how Todd is hitting. They're certainly my team now, for sure.

"As much as I like taking BP, I actually enjoy taking groundballs more than anything else. I miss that about baseball more than anything. I can't remember who the guy was I was working behind [at Coors Field]. This would have been eight or nine years ago. I was taking groundballs behind him. He kind of rotated in to hit, and the third base coach was hitting groundballs to me, by myself. I'm sure he was like, 'Why am I hitting groundballs to Manning? It's one thing if Manning rotates in, but why am I just focusing on him?' I got caught up into it. I love everything about baseball. It's just such a different mentality than football -- so many more games and a different atmosphere. I've always been a fan of it. Having the connection, the friendship I've had with Todd, has made it very special for me."

Series preview: Mets at Rockies

April, 27, 2012
4/27/12
6:21
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Getty Images/Associated Press
The Mets face (l to r) Drew Pomeranz, ageless Jamie Moyer and Jeremy Guthrie this weekend at Coors Field.
METS (11-8, third place/NL East) vs. COLORADO ROCKIES (9-9, third place/NL West)

Friday: RHP Chris Schwinden (2-2, 2.05 at Triple-A Buffalo) vs. LHP Drew Pomeranz (0-1, 6.75), 8:40 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Dillon Gee (1-2, 5.21) vs. RHP Jeremy Guthrie (2-1, 5.92), 8:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: LHP Johan Santana (0-2, 3.00) vs. LHP Jamie Moyer (1-2, 2.28), 3:10 p.m. ET

Rockies short hops

• With an April 17 victory against the San Diego Padres, Jamie Moyer became the oldest pitcher to win a major league game, at 49 years, 151 days. The victory, the 268th of his career, tied Jim Palmer for 34th all time. Next up: Mike Mussina and Burleigh Grimes at 270. Moyer actually has been Colorado’s best starting pitcher so far this season, despite the 1-2 record. He is the only Rockie to complete at least five innings in each of his starts. He received a no-decision in his last start despite limiting the Pittsburgh Pirates to one run in six innings at PNC Park. Moyer missed last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, which he only intended to have in order to throw batting practice to his children. But he felt so good while rehabbing, he opted to make a comeback. Moyer needs two strikeouts to match Luis Tiant for 36th all time, with 2,416.

• Left fielder Carlos Gonzalez produced his first two homers of the season Tuesday at Pittsburgh, off Kevin Correia and Tony Watson. Gonzalez had been weakened by a battle with strep throat that caused him to miss three games. He is just starting to regain his strength.


Chris Humphreys/US Presswire
Marco Scutaro has needed to readjust to second base after primarily playing shortstop with the Red Sox in recent seasons.


• The Dec. 16 signing of former Minnesota Twin Michael Cuddyer to a three-year, $31.5 million contract marked the first time the organization had opened the purse strings for a major free-agent acquisition since 2000. That year, Colorado signed Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle. (The Hampton signing gave the Mets the compensatory draft pick they used to select David Wright 38th overall in June ’01). Cuddyer, who grew up with Wright in Norfolk, Va., has been the Rockies’ most productive hitter so far with a .303 average, two homers and 11 RBIs in 66 at-bats. A first-time All-Star last season in the American League, Cuddyer has taken over the right-field role held by Seth Smith and Ryan Spilborghs in 2011.

• The Rockies acquired Marco Scutaro from the Boston Red Sox on Jan. 21 for right-hander Clayton Mortensen. Scutaro started 102 games at shortstop and two games at second base last season, but is being asked to play the latter position with the Rockies. He initially looked shaky, but has progressed since the start of the season.

• Two-time reigning Gold Glove winner Troy Tulowitzki already has matched last season’s error total with six. On a wet day, he airmailed two throws for errors. Three days later, Tulowitzki then had a second two-error day. Teammate Jason Giambi played fielding highlights for Tulowitzki to try to settle the Rockies’ shaken shortstop. The six errors are one shy of Starlin Castro’s NL-leading total with the Chicago Cubs. Tulowitzki has this to fall back on: He is a lifetime .328 hitter with seven homers and 15 RBIs in 116 at-bats against the Mets.

• The Rockies are targeting 110 starts for 38-year-old Todd Helton at first base this season. Helton does not play day games after starting night games. Giambi is the primary alternative. Helton’s 1,318 RBIs are the most in Rockies franchise history. He and Wright are the only two active players who lead their organizations in most runs driven in. Helton and R.A. Dickey were baseball teammates at the University of Tennessee.

• Closer Rafael Betancourt is 6-for-6 in save conversions. Matt Belisle (1.23 ERA) is now the primary setup man. Rex Brothers (4.05 ERA) began the season in that role, but is now more likely to handle the seventh.

• Left-hander Drew Pomeranz was the centerpiece prospect returned in last July’s trade of Ubaldo Jimenez to the Cleveland Indians. The 23-year-old southpaw was the fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft, out of the University of Mississippi. The Mets then selected Matt Harvey seventh overall. With the Rockies not needing a fifth starter the first time through the rotation, Pomeranz began the season with a start with Double-A Tulsa to keep his innings count in check. Friday’s outing will mark his seventh career major league start.

Jeremy Guthrie was acquired at the start of spring training from the Baltimore Orioles for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom.

• With center fielder Dexter Fowler struggling (.222), lefty-hitting Tyler Colvin has chipped away at some of his playing time. Colvin was acquired from the Cubs with infielder D.J. LeMahieu on Dec. 8 for Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers.

• Right-hander Juan Nicasio, whom the Mets will not face, is an inspirational story. He is coming back from a broken neck, which he suffered on a line drive off the bat of Washington’s Ian Desmond last Aug. 5.

• Defensive-oriented third baseman Chris Nelson is hitting .224.

Jorge De La Rosa, returning from Tommy John surgery, is due to pitch in an extended spring training game Friday.

Matchups

Schwinden vs. Rockies (career: never faced)

Gee vs. Rockies (career: never faced)

Santana vs. Rockies (career: 2-0, 0.00 ERA)
Troy Tulowitzki .429, 2 K, 7 PA
Todd Helton .333, 3 PA
Marco Scutaro .250, 1 RBI, 3 K, 12 PA
Carlos Gonzalez .250, 1 K, 4 PA
Jason Giambi .227, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 7 K, 23 PA
Dexter Fowler .200, 2 BB, 3 K, 7 PA
Ramon Hernandez .190, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K, 22 PA
Michael Cuddyer .000, 1 BB, 1 K, 3 PA

Pomeranz vs. Mets (career: never faced)

Guthrie vs. Mets (career: 0-2, 4.73 ERA)
David Wright .500, 2 RBI, 1 K, 6 PA
Scott Hairston .333, 3 PA
Ike Davis .333, 2 K, 3 PA
Daniel Murphy .000, 1 RBI, 3 PA
Ruben Tejada .000, 1 K, 3 PA

Moyer vs. Mets (career: 10-6, 3.94 ERA)
Daniel Murphy .500, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 6 PA
David Wright .415, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K, 56 PA
Scott Hairston .000, 2 BB, 11 PA
Ike Davis .000, 1 BB, 3 PA

Last series results

Mets won, 2-1, at Coors Field, May 9-12, 2011 (AP game recaps)

Rockies 2, Mets 1: Chris Capuano was stellar on the mound and shoddy at the plate. Capuano (2-4) made one key mistake in 6 2/3 strong innings, hanging an 81 mph slider to Chris Iannetta, who broke a tie in the seventh inning with a low liner that just cleared the left-field fence. The pitcher's performance at the plate, though, left something to be desired. He struck out three times, including once with the bases loaded in the sixth. That's simply the way the night went for the Mets, who left 10 runners on base and dropped to 0-5 against Colorado this season including a four-game sweep at Citi Field last month. Once again, they struggled to come up with the timely hit. New York is 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position over the last two games.

Mets 4, Rockies 3: Mike Pelfrey hit a tiebreaking, two-run double and limited the Rockies to three solo homers. Ike Davis left in the fifth inning after he strained his left calf when he appeared to trip over third baseman David Wright's foot as the two closed in on a pop up by the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki. Wright hung on to the ball near the mound for the second out of the fourth inning as Davis tumbled to the ground. Davis bounced up quickly but was limping noticeably. He remained in the game for the final out of the inning, then was replaced. The Mets had lost all five of their games to the Rockies this season but finally put together a couple of rallies against their new nemesis to counter home runs by Troy Tulowitzki, Seth Smith and Carlos Gonzalez. Despite the trio of long balls he served up, Pelfrey (3-3) allowed six hits over 6 2/3 innings and improved to 6-2 lifetime against the Rockies, who have lost seven of nine but remain atop the NL West. Pelfrey's outing was cut short by a nearly hour-long rain delay in the seventh inning.

Mets 9, Rockies 5: Carlos Beltran hit a career-high three homers and drove in six runs to help the Mets beat Ubaldo Jimenez in a game delayed more than two hours by rain. Beltran homered from both sides of the plate and reached all parts of the ballpark with his three two-run homers: straightaway center in the first, deep left in the seventh and into the right-field seats in the ninth. The switch-hitting outfielder became the eighth Mets player to hit three in a game, and first since Jose Reyes on Aug. 15, 2006, at Philadelphia. Reyes hit a two-run single in the fourth that chased Jimenez (0-3) and kept the Rockies' ace searching for his elusive first win of the season. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings in his shortest stint of the season, surrendering five runs and three hits while walking six. Relying on his curveball, Jon Niese (2-4) was solid for 6 1/3 innings while allowing solo homers to Jonathan Herrera and Todd Helton.

2B plan, Helton-Dickey tie, K-Rod to court

April, 12, 2011
4/12/11
6:02
PM ET

Getty Images
Todd Helton and R.A. Dickey were teammates at the University of Tennessee for two academic years.
Daniel Murphy is due to start for a second straight game at second base on Tuesday night, after a positive performance the previous day that included throwing out Seth Smith at the plate as well as making a diving stop on Carlos Gonzalez’s grounder.

Brad Emaus is in an 0-for-12 rut, but should start Wednesday, since the Rockies are due to start left-hander Jorge De La Rosa. Still, Terry Collins said this is not a platoon situation.

“I thought his energy that he brings sometimes is infectious,” Collins said about Murphy. “So I’d like to get him back out there tonight. I thought he earned the right. I haven’t even gone down that road where I’m thinking about platooning anybody. I mean, Brad is probably going to get back in there tomorrow. I’ve certainly got to keep Chin-lung Hu active and make sure he gets back in there too. I just thought right now we need some big hits, and I think Dan swung the bat good enough to give us those.”

R.A. Dickey believes he will have no issues in his outing opposite De La Rosa on Wednesday. Dickey matched a career high with five walks while allowing three runs in five innings against the Nationals his last outing, and attributed much of the control difficulty to splitting the nail on his right index finger on a first-inning pitch to Ryan Zimmerman.

“No problem,” Dickey said.

The Rockies, incidentally, are one of only three teams Dickey has never faced. The others: San Diego and Cincinnati.

Dickey is acquainted with Todd Helton, however. The two were teammates at the University of Tennessee for two seasons. They made a trip to the College World Series together in 1995, when Dickey was a conventional pitcher, before shoulder issues took away his fastball velocity. Helton also was a quarterback on the Volunteers football team.

“I actually tried to think about that today, if I remember him ever throwing a knuckleball [in college], and I can’t recall,” Helton said. “When you throw 97 mph with nasty sink, you don’t need to work with knuckleball.” (Dickey said he hit 96 mph a few times in college, but 97 might be too generous.)

Told Dickey is now a voracious reader with intellectual curiosity, Helton stopped an inquiry midsentence.

“Now?” Helton asked rhetorically. “He was always a little bit different. He was always a smart guy, always looking for the deeper meaning of life. Position players don’t have that much time. We don’t get the luxury of figuring that part of life out.”

Said Dickey: “I remember one anecdote in particular. He was a quarterback in fall practice. And he came down in his pads just to get some ABs in a fall baseball game. He picked up a wood bat, he hit a homer, and put his pads back on and went back up to the practice field -- in between plays or something. He played football, so we would only get glimpses of him in the fall. But he’s an incredible competitor, as fierce as I’ve ever been around.”

Francisco Rodriguez is due in Queens Criminal Court on Wednesday to provide a routine update on his anger-management training, he said. K-Rod has completed the Venezuela and Port St. Lucie, Fla., phases of that court-mandated training.

Bobby Parnell may not be used on Tuesday night, with Collins not wanting to overburden the reliever after he threw 27 pitches in a three-run eighth Monday. Collins said he could foresee Taylor Buchholz or Jason Isringhausen handling the eighth if he stays away from Parnell on Tuesday night.

Still, Parnell’s hold on the eighth inning appears to be fading.

As for Izzy’s usage going forward, Collins said: “I’m intrigued to use him in those big situations. It may be the eighth tonight. Certainly Taylor Buchholz is throwing the ball good enough that I think he can go out there in the eighth inning if need be. Again, the situation of the game will dictate which guy I think should go where.”

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Bartolo Colon
WINS ERA SO IP
8 4.12 95 126
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Murphy .288
HRL. Duda 14
RBID. Wright 50
RD. Murphy 57
OPSL. Duda .829
ERAJ. Niese 3.13
SOZ. Wheeler 112