New York Mets: Toronto Blue Jays
FIRST PITCH: Reigning NL Rookie of the Month Jacob deGrom is making a run at a franchise rookie record.
DeGrom (6-5, 2.77 ERA) has won five straight starts, the longest streak by a Mets rookie since Dillon Gee also won five straight in 2011.
The Mets rookie record is seven straight starts with a win, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It was accomplished three times: by Jason Isringhausen (1995), Ron Darling (1984) and Dwight Gooden (1984).
DeGrom opposes right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (7-5, 3.00) at 12:35 p.m. Thursday in the rubber game against the Washington Nationals.
Thursday’s news reports:
• Jonathon Niese surrendered homers to Adam LaRoche and Danny Espinosa and dropped to 0-4 with a 5.76 ERA in four starts since returning from the disabled list as Washington beat the Mets, 7-1, Wednesday. Niese insisted he is healthy. He suggested he revised his mechanics to avoid irritating his shoulder and has struggled with command as he adjusts to the delivery tweaks.
With Wednesday’s loss, the Mets (54-60) trail the first-place Nats by eight games. The Amazin’s run differential now stands at only plus-one for the season. The Mets are seven back in the wild card.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Times and at MLB.com.
• David Wright faults his struggles on tinkering, not injury. Writes columnist John Harper in the Daily News:
He insists his left shoulder, in which he received a cortisone shot nearly a month ago, is not a factor in hitting .194 so far in the second half.
Instead Wright is convinced that he turned himself into a mental mess at the plate, so quick to make changes and adjustments that essentially he has forgotten how to hit.
“I’ve made some mistakes this year, revamping some things with my swing that I probably shouldn’t mess with,” he was saying on Wednesday. “Especially after the All-Star break I started trying to change things when I didn’t get the results I wanted. Pretty soon you’re trying something new every at-bat and thinking about all the wrong things.
“Instead of realizing there are going to be times during the season when you’re going to have a hiccup and you need to ride it out, I was too quick to make adjustments, and you get to the point where you can’t remember what it felt like when you were going good.”
• Mets ownership has yet to pick up Sandy Alderson’s 2015 option, but columnist David Lennon in Newsday expects that to be a formality. Writes Lennon:
Alderson has a job now, presumably one he enjoys, and the impression here is that it should be only a matter of weeks before some kind of extension is announced. Alderson's original four-year contract expires in October. But he has an option for 2015, and we've always believed the only way he is ever stripped of the GM title is if Alderson chooses to leave Flushing on his own.
Although that's always possible, Alderson sounded Wednesday like someone who wants to stay on to see the Mets become a legitimate contender again -- and that won't be accomplished by the end of this season.
• Darren Rovell at ESPN.com has more on the Mets’ toy truck giveaway that included a Phillies logo. Essentially, the manufacturer took responsibility for a packaging error.
• Bill Price in the Daily News has a feature on deGrom, with additional material here.
• San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence had a playful response Wednesday to those weekend signs at Citi Field taunting him.
• Greg Peavey tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings and Brian Burgamy and Dustin Lawley homered in Binghamton’s 5-1 win against Richmond. Dilson Herrera departed the game in the sixth after jamming a finger on a headfirst slide. Brandon Nimmo has been sidelined since Sunday with hand soreness. Jeremy Hefner allowed three runs and lasted only one inning, but St. Lucie scored six unearned runs in a 6-5 win against Fort Myers. Rob Whalen and Akeel Morris combined on a shutout in Game 1 and Stefan Sabol had two long balls, including a walk-off shot, in the nightcap as Savannah swept a doubleheader against Charleston. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• The Toronto Blue Jays acquired Class A right-hander Hunter Carnevale from the Mets for cash.
• Matt Harvey dunked himself in an ice-cold pool for a good cause.
• Sandy Alderson discussed with ESPNNewYork.com why Kirk Nieuwenhuis was promoted over Matt den Dekker.
• Alderson all but said Bartolo Colon had not completed the waiver process as of Wednesday.
• Will Noah Syndergaard or Rafael Montero appear in the majors this season? Alderson was noncommittal with Mike Puma in the Post. “I’m not really speculating about what we’re going to do a month from now, in terms of bringing [Syndergaard] up or Montero or what have you,” Alderson told Puma. “We’ll see what happens here and see how they continue to perform.”
Syndergaard is due to face Albuquerque on Thursday. He has allowed only two runs (one earned) in 17 1/3 innings over his past three starts. Montero has tossed 14 2/3 scoreless innings over his past two starts.
Read more in the Daily News.
• Jared Diamond in the Journal examines Lucas Duda against left-handed pitching.
• Read more on Darryl Strawberry serious allegation against former teammate Kevin Mitchell in the Post.
BIRTHDAYS: Nieuwenhuis turns 27. ... Hawaiian Tyler Yates is 37. ... Danny Graves is 41.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Carnevale, 25, is a 33rd-round pick in 2010 from the University of the Pacific. He was a combined 4-1 with a 5.59 ERA in 23 relief appearances between low-A Savannah and high-A St. Lucie this season.
Eric Young Jr., lf
Daniel Murphy, 2b
David Wright, 3b
Curtis Granderson, rf
Chris Young, cf
Lucas Duda, dh
Ike Davis, 1b
Travis d'Arnaud, c
Ruben Tejada, ss
Daisuke Matsuzaka, rhp
Jose Reyes, ss
Melky Cabrera, lf
Jose Bautista, dh
Edwin Encarnacion, 1b
Dioner Navarro, c
Brett Lawrie, 3b
Colby Rasmus, cf
Moises Sierra, rf
Ryan Goins, 2b
Brandon Morrow, rhp
UPDATE: Bautista has been scratched with a stomach ailment.
FIRST PITCH: The Mets play their final 2014 exhibition game Saturday with a 1:05 p.m. first pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays at Olympic Stadium.
Daisuke Matsuzaka opposes Jays right-hander Brandon Morrow.
The 1994 Montreal Expos, which included Pedro Martinez, Cliff Floyd, Moises Alou, Marquis Grissom and Larry Walker, will be honored pregame. That team was 74-40 and poised to make a serious run at the World Series when a strike ended the season.
Saturday’s news reports:
• Jenrry Mejia, who appeared poised to get at least one big-league start during the opening week of the season, departed Friday’s game at Olympic Stadium after taking a line drive off his right forearm in the fifth inning. Terry Collins said the forearm dramatically swelled. Mejia was off to the hospital for some late-night X-rays Friday.
Collins had planned for the combo of Mejia and Matsuzaka to serve as the fifth starter and hedge against Jonathon Niese not being ready to come off the DL on April 6 to face the Cincinnati Reds. Now, assuming Mejia needs time to recuperate, Matsuzaka could be starting on April 4 instead of Mejia and John Lannan could become the insurance for Niese.
Niese, incidentally, continued to feel good the day after pitching in a minor-league game.
Read more in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Gary Carter’s widow Sandy and daughter Kimmy Bloemers were on hand for a pregame ceremony Friday honoring The Kid in Montreal. A crowd of 46,121 packed into Olympic Stadium for the Mets exhibition game against the Jays. Former Expo Warren Cromartie used the occasion to continue to lobby for MLB to return to Montreal, while acknowledging that meant the relocation of an existing team and not expansion. Read more on the Gary Carter ceremony and MLB’s future in Montreal in the Daily News, Foxsports.com, Times, Journal and MLB.com.
• Bobby Parnell surrendered a walk-off single in the ninth as the Mets lost to the Jays, 5-4. Travis d’Arnaud homered against his former organization. Mejia had limited Toronto to a solo homer by Jose Bautista in four-plus innings before the liner forced him to depart.
• The Mets have released $35 standing-room-only tickets for Opening Day.
• Jose Reyes called Ruben Tejada a couple of weeks ago to offer support. “They just need to let Tejada play,” Reyes told Kristie Ackert in the Daily News before Friday’s Mets-Jays game. “Don’t put so much pressure on him. He’s like 23-24 years old, so I mean the talent is still there. Let the guy play. Let the guy develop his talent. Just give him a chance.”
• Collins said Lucas Duda still may see some outfield action to get into the lineup if both Ike Davis and Duda are hitting well. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Record.
• Omar Quintanilla officially has beaten out Anthony Seratelli for the backup shortstop role, according to Collins. If something were to happen to Tejada and Quintanilla, David Wright would be the primary candidate to complete the game at shortstop, the manager added.
• Minor-league teams begin play Thursday. Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom highlight Las Vegas’ rotation. Double-A Binghamton’s roster should include Kevin Plawecki, Cory Vaughn, Jack Leathersich, Adam Kolarek, Dustin Lawley, Matt Reynolds and Wilfredo Tovar. Class A St. Lucie should include Brandon Nimmo, Gabriel Ynoa and Steven Matz. Low-A Savannah should include Dominic Smith, last year’s first-round pick.
• Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos on Friday defended last offseason’s trade of Syndergaard and d’Arnaud to the Mets for R.A. Dickey.
“I think it’s good for both,” Anthopoulos told Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger. “We definitely need starters and we definitely need innings. We’d love to get more guys like R.A., especially since he almost led the AL in innings pitched -- I think he was just behind James Shields by five-something. He started out slow, but second half of the year put up a three-and-a-half ERA and had a great year for us.
“Ultimately, Josh Johnson got hurt, Brandon Morrow got hurt, [Mark] Buehrle’s done what he’s always done. Our offense is still a pretty good team, but guys have missed time. If we had just had a little more production out of the three, four, five in our rotation, it would have changed things for us. He’s obviously a really key part of our team.”
BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets reliever Scott Atchison turns 38. ... Oakland GM Billy Beane, a former Mets first-round pick, is 52.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: How concerned are you about the Mets’ bullpen?
94'Expos reunion with @Clifffloyd30@cdnmooselips33,Marquis and Sweet Lou pic.twitter.com/EUHrzg5IyR— Moises Alou (@MoisesAlou18) March 29, 2014
Eric Bolte/USA TODAY SportsJenrry Mejia was forced from Friday's game after getting struck with a line drive in the right forearm.
Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Ryan Goins’ liner struck Mejia in the right forearm to open the bottom of the fifth inning. After a visit from Terry Collins and trainer Ray Ramirez, Mejia slowly walked off the mound.
Mejia departed for a local hospital as the game ended to get X-rays.
The forearm issue raises questions about whether Mejia will be available to take a potential start next Friday against the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field.
“I’ll tell you one thing: When I walked out there, I don’t think I’ve seen a lump on a guy’s arm come up so fast,” Collins said. “He got it pretty good.”
Collins appeared to suggest pregame Friday that Mejia was headed for the Game 4 start against the Reds, with Daisuke Matsuzaka being held back for a potential start two days later as a hedge against Jonathon Niese not being ready to return from a season-opening DL trip.
Now, if Mejia is unavailable, Matsuzaka likely would start Game 4 and John Lannan would be the hedge against Niese being unavailable.
“One thing we’re very, very lucky to have right now is some depth,” Collins said. “We’ve got Lannan stretched out if we need a guy, obviously Dice-K tomorrow. The best thing is Jon Niese felt great today. He threw 45 ... from 90 feet -- no discomfort -- after pitching yesterday. So it looks like he’s going to make that [minor-league] start on the 1st [of April] and get to 90 pitches or so.”
Mejia had been forced from his previous start after five innings because of discomfort with a bunion on the outside of his right big toe.
Until Mejia was forced to depart his final 2014 exhibition appearance, he had limited the Blue Jays to a fourth-inning solo homer by Jose Bautista.
Combining this performance with his Grapefruit League showing, Mejia produced a 2.70 ERA in 13 1/3 innings.
The Mets ultimately lost Friday’s game, 5-4, on a walk-off single by Ricardo Nanita against Bobby Parnell.
Chris Young contributed a two-run double against left-hander Mark Buehrle in the top of the fourth to open the game’s scoring. Daniel Murphy had a run-scoring double an inning later that staked the Mets to a 3-1 lead.
In the seventh, Travis d’Arnaud staked the Mets to a 4-2 lead with a solo homer against Long Island native Marcus Stroman. D’Arnaud had been acquired from the Blue Jays with Noah Syndergaard for R.A. Dickey.
Gonzalez Germen surrendered a game-tying two-run single to Edwin Encarnacion a half-inning later.
On his struggling relievers, Collins said: “At this particular time I think you’d probably wish the bullpen would come in and pound the strike zone. But one of the things we certainly know is that there are good arms down there. Bobby threw the ball hard tonight, which was good, but the command was not where he’s used to throwing it. We’ve got two days. We’ve got to get them in there and get them some work and get ready for Monday.”
The game drew an announced crowd of 46,121. That marked the largest crowd at Olympic Stadium for MLB since Opening Day in 2000, when 51,249 came to watch the Expos face the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I’ve been here when the crowds are like that. I know what it’s like. I was here in ’94,” Collins said. “… I thought it was great for the city of Montreal. I thought it was great for baseball. I really did. Both teams really responded to it. In a game like this, usually guys this late in spring training are looking for ways to get out of a lineup. And tonight they wanted to stay in the lineup because of the fans.”
What’s next: The Mets play their final 2014 exhibition game at 1:10 p.m. Saturday, also against the Jays at Olympic Stadium. Matsuzaka opposes right-hander Brandon Morrow.
Eric Young Jr., dh
Daniel Murphy, 2b
David Wright, 3b
Curtis Granderson, rf
Chris Young, lf
Lucas Duda, 1b
Travis d'Arnaud, c
Juan Lagares, cf
Ruben Tejada, ss
Jenrry Mejia, rhp
Jose Reyes, ss
Melky Cabrera, lf
Jose Bautista, rf
Edwin Encarnacion, 1b
Adam Lind, dh
Dioner Navarro, c
Colby Rasmus, cf
Brett Lawrie, 3b
Ryan Goins, 2b
Mark Buehrle, lhp
FIRST PITCH: Jenrry Mejia makes his final pitch for a rotation spot when the Mets play their first game in Montreal in a decade.
Mejia is due to oppose Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle at 7:05 p.m. at packed Olympic Stadium on Friday night, after a pregame tribute to the late Gary Carter.
"He told me that he was pitching one of the days in Montreal, and he told me, ‘Careful what you’re going to do to me.’ And I told him that I was not yet sure if I was going to play [because of a hamstring injury], but now I think I'm going to be in the lineup. I told him, ‘I would like to wish you the best, because the talent is there.’ He has been strong despite having several injuries.”
The Jays also have ex-Mets R.A. Dickey and Josh Thole.
Ten years ago, David Wright hit his first big-league homer at OIympic Stadium. It came in a 19-10 loss to the Montreal Expos in Wright’s sixth carer game -- a solo shot in the second inning against John Patterson, on July 26, 2004.
The Mets broke camp in Florida on Thursday afternoon. Before departing, they officially placed John Lannan on the 40-man roster to serve as a reliever.
So the lone official decisions yet to be announced -- aside from Matsuzaka versus Mejia -- are Andrew Brown versus Eric Campbell for an extra bench spot and Omar Quintanilla versus Anthony Seratelli for the backup-shortstop role. Brown and Quintanilla appear likely to prevail.
Friday’s news reports:
• Jonathon Niese tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings against St. Louis Cardinals A-ball players Thursday and said he felt “amazing.” The performance came nine days after the southpaw received a cortisone injection in his left elbow.
That allays some concern about whether Niese will be ready to come off the disabled list April 6 to face the Cincinnati Reds. So perhaps the Mets can just choose Mejia or Matsuzaka from the start of the season and not need serious roster maneuvering. The expectation continues to be Matsuzaka, who faces the Jays on Saturday, ultimately will settle into the big-league rotation.
Meanwhile, Mejia has a bunion issue on the side of his right big toe that Terry Collins suggested may be a factor in the fifth-starter selection.
Matsuzaka, reacting to being handed $100,000 on Tuesday to delay the decision, said he has come to expect the unexpected in his U.S. career.
Read more in the Daily News, Star-Ledger and Newsday.
• Collins says Eric Young Jr. and Juan Lagares both should get playing time in the outfield. Read more in the Post and Star-Ledger.
• EY Jr. played an inning at shortstop Thursday.
• Richard Sandomir and Ken Belson in the Times delve into the Mets’ finances.
• An engineer who prepares environmental-impact studies implores New York City’s mayor to stop the eminent-domain proceedings of land around Citi Field in an op-ed in the Daily News.
• Olympic Stadium, which normally hosts Major League Soccer, needed some major tinkering to get ready to host baseball, Brenda Branswell writes in the Montreal Gazette. One concern: The roof isn't in perfect condition, so a few inches of snow would have resulted in cancellation of the event. A light snow/rain is expected Friday afternoon. There are 35,000 to 40,000 people expected per game.
• Tom Signore, who was ticketed for the Brooklyn Cyclones, will begin the season as Triple-A Las Vegas’ pitching coach. He will fill in for Frank Viola, who is due to undergo open-heart surgery Wednesday.
• Prospect Cory Mazzoni departed Thursday’s Grapefruit League finale with a triceps injury in the second inning.
• The Mets finished 14-14-2 in Grapefruit League play after a 4-0 loss to the Washington Nationals at Tradition Field.
• Tim Teufel’s son Shawn, a left-handed pitcher, was among Thursday’s cuts from minor-league camp. So was Alonzo Harris, who played for Double-A Binghamton last season. Harris quickly signed with the Miami Marlins.
• Mets executive VP Lou DePaoli tells Steven Marcus in Newsday that Opening Day will sell out at Citi Field.
“The game will definitely sell out,” DePaoli told Marcus. “We are pacing significantly ahead of last year. As of right now, there are roughly less than a thousand seats available. We’re going to be opening standing room only.
“Overall, our Opening Day sales are way ahead of what they were last year. You’ve got to think the fact that maybe people have been cooped up a little bit and want to get out, they’re excited to get back outside.”
• Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post suggests Wright is poised to succeed Derek Jeter as the face of New York baseball.
• Brian Costa in the Journal is not bullish about the 2014 Mets. Writes Costa:
This feels like a sequel to a movie that didn’t draw rave reviews to begin with. Harvey, who is expected to miss the entire season coming off elbow surgery, plays the role of last year’s Johan Santana: the ace in rehab. Syndergaard becomes last year’s Wheeler: the dynamic arm whose arrival will be delayed by baseball’s self-defeating financial incentives to keep top prospects out of the majors until midseason.
Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada return as themselves, despite the Mets’ best efforts. The questions about their ability to become part of the team’s core group of position players are the same, if not louder, than they were before. Only now the three are a year older and the Mets’ patience is wearing thinner.
• A Manhattan federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday by a man who claimed volunteers at the All-Star Game’s FanFest ought to have been paid, writes Rich Calder in the Post.
• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post predicts Matt Harvey could bolt for the Yankees once he is a free agent after the 2018 season if things don't change.
• From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear contrasts big-leaguers' first games with the uncertainty attached to their last.
BIRTHDAYS: Former Rule 5 pick Brad Emaus turns 28 today. … Former Generation K member Paul Wilson is 41.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Should Montreal get another chance at an MLB team?
So I guess planes get flat tires too #delayed— Anthony Seratelli (@ars1productions) March 27, 2014
FIRST PITCH: It’s a tripleheader for the Mets on Thursday.
The Mets send a pair of squads to Kissimmee, Fla., to face the Houston Astros. At 10 a.m. in a “B” game, Logan Verrett, Vic Black, Jack Leathersich and Erik Goeddel are scheduled to pitch.
Meanwhile, there is plenty of action crammed into three innings in a structured intrasquad game on a back field at the Mets’ complex, which will not be open to the public. Now at 10 a.m., Bartolo Colon, Jonathon Niese and Bobby Parnell have their first game action of spring training.
Colon was slowed early in camp by a calf issue. Niese had to be dispatched to New York for an MRI of his shoulder (which came back not alarming). Parnell, returning deliberately from herniated-disk surgery anyway, has a lingering quadriceps issue, too. This will be his first game-type action since last July 30.
The batters, primarily minor leaguers, should also include David Wright, Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis and maybe Ruben Tejada.
Terry Collins kept Wright and Murphy out of the first week of Grapefruit League games to ease them into action and guard against injury. Each should make his first official spring-training start Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals in Port St. Lucie. Davis (calves) and Tejada (hamstring) both have been dealing with injuries.
Lucas Duda (hamstring) is not ready to participate, Collins added.
Thursday’s news reports:
• The Mets were swept in split-squad games, losing in Viera, 11-5, to the Washington Nationals and losing, 5-2, in 10 innings in Port St. Lucie to the Miami Marlins. Jenrry Mejia -- who may get bullpen consideration late in camp, but who for now is eyeing the fifth-starter role -- allowed one unearned run in two innings against the Nats. Cory Mazzoni was tagged for seven runs in the eighth in that loss. Facing Miami’s Jose Fernandez and Washington’s Gio Gonzalez, the Mets went scoreless for a combined 5 1/3 innings against the aces. Gonzalez Germen allowed three 10th-inning runs after Matt den Dekker’s sacrifice fly tied the score in the bottom of the ninth.
Read more on Mejia in the Star-Ledger, Daily News, Record and Newsday.
• Collins understands he could use a backup shortstop with some offensive capability, so the manager wondered aloud if Wilmer Flores could serve in that role. Still, it seems very tentatively more like that Anthony Seratelli gets that nod over Flores or Omar Quintanilla, at least with the roster as presently constituted.
Anthony DiComo at MLB.com profiles Seratelli’s long route to the Mets, including the emotional loss of his father in 2011 in an auto accident.
Read more on Seratelli in the Star-Ledger.
• Collins is considering batting his pitcher eighth on occasion. Columnist Joel Sherman tackles that topic in the Post. Sherman also suggests that Juan Lagares will make the team at least as a bench player, although the columnist asserts there ought to be consideration to sending Lagares to Las Vegas. Meanwhile, a friend of Stephen Drew labeled it “very slim” to Sherman that the free-agent shortstop lands with the Mets.
• Murphy tells the Daily News about the conflict between the team’s offensive philosophy and his own mindset: “I struggle with thinking that a walk is a win. I struggle with that, because I look at a walk as, ‘I didn’t get a hit.’ And so what I’m trying to really, really learn is that 0-for-2 with two walks, that is a win. But I don’t always view it like that.”
• After pitching a perfect ninth inning at Tradition Field against the Marlins on Wednesday, Jose Valverde told Mike Puma in the Post about trying to make the club: “For me, every year I try to compete like a minor-league guy -- always. All my life, what I’ve done in spring training is like I’ve never played in the big leagues. The first day in Arizona, Houston, Detroit and now with the Mets, that was my mindset all the time -- ‘It’s my first spring training.’”
• Parking prices are rising at Citi Field, Mets Police reports. After charging $20 last season, the new posted rates for cars are $22 for the regular season, $25 for the postseason, $30 for special events and $22 for the U.S. Open.
• Matt Harvey will earn a base salary of $547,000 in 2014 -- $47,000 above the MLB minimum -- plus another $60,000 in bonuses, according to the Associated Press.
• Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post asks original Generation K member Jason Isringhausen about the Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard trio. “Three guys coming up, there’s a lot of expectation,” Izzy, a guest instructor with the Cardinals, told Kernan. “But, with us, there were a lot of injuries. So hopefully these kids stay injury-free and they are able to pitch for 20 years. That would be great. That’s what everybody wants. The reality is you got to take care of these kids.’’
• Read more on the plan for Mets players returning to Grapefruit League play from injuries in the Star-Ledger, Record and Newsday.
• Jared Diamond in the Journal questions whether Duda’s fractured wrist during the 2012-13 offseason impacted his performance a year ago.
• Frank Viola’s son Frank III, who has tried to revive his career as a knuckleball pitcher, has signed a minor-league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays after a successful tryout, the former Cy Young winner tweeted. The younger Viola, a right-hander, is 29 years old.
• Tim Rohan in the Times profiles Mets farmhand L.J. Mazzilli, the son of Lee Mazzilli. L.J. was assigned No. 13 in minor-league camp, which his father wore from 1986 through ’89 with the Mets. L.J. has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, so he needs to be extra vigilant concentrating in the field, Rohan writes.
• Matz is profiled in the Post. The Long Island native is expected to open the season in Class A St. Lucie’s rotation, with a potential jump to Double-A Binghamton for the second half.
• Chris McShane at Amazin’ Avenue interviews Paul DePodesta.
• The Binghamton Mets will host a “Welcome Home” dinner for the Double-A club on April 2 at the DoubleTree in Binghamton. Tickets for the event/autograph session are $25. Call 607-723-METS or purchase at the NYSEG Stadium ticket office.
• From the bloggers … The Eddie Kranepool Society addresses WOR’s Mets radio booth still being in flux. … Faith and Fear hears spring training is the cure for the common winter. … John Delcos at Mets Report wonders why there are so many tight muscles in camp.
BIRTHDAYS: No player to appear for the Mets was born on this date, but Shaquille O’Neal, Tom Arnold, Alan Greenspan and Michelangelo celebrate birthdays today.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
John Minchillo/Associated PressSandy Alderson wants to be general manager of the Mets for two or three more years, according to the Post.
FIRST PITCH: With position players due to report Thursday and the first full-squad workout scheduled for Saturday, the Mets have all but two of their players already in camp -- Omar Quintanilla and Wilfredo Tovar.
Wednesday’s news reports:
• Sandy Alderson wants to remain Mets GM for two or three more years, but “definitely not five,” Mike Puma reports in the Post, quoting a source. Alderson is in the fourth year of his original four-year deal, which also includes a team option.
• Alderson confirmed to columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News that the Mets’ offer to closer Grant Balfour exceeded the two-year, $12 million deal he accepted from the Tampa Bay Rays. Alderson told Madden he did not make a similar offer to Fernando Rodney (who ultimately signed for two years, $14 million with the Seattle Mariners) because Rodney’s camp indicated it wanted $10 million-plus a season.
• The Pittsburgh Pirates will continue to monitor Ike Davis for a potential trade, ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports.
Meanwhile, will getting Davis double the typical number of spring-training at-bats help guard against another slow start to the season? Collins said it worked for Tim Salmon while Collins managed the Angels in the late 1990s. Still, Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger notes that the Phillies’ Domonic Brown led the majors last spring training with 90 at-bats and then hit only .233 in April.
• A Mets official severely downplayed a report the club is having dialogue with free-agent Nelson Cruz.
• The Mets signed right-hander Buddy Carlyle to a minor-league contract. Carlyle, 36, did not receive an invitation to big-league camp. Lefty Dana Eveland also received a minor-league contract with no invite.
• How excited can you really get about prospects, especially if you’re familiar with the bust that was Generation K? Writes columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post:
There’s only one proven method for the optimists to prevail, and that’s with sheer numbers. These Mets hope they’re building such a model for success.
“We know the history. Some guys don’t make it. That’s just what happens,” Paul DePodesta, the Mets’ vice president of player development and amateur scouting, said Monday. “They get hurt. They have a disappointing performance. They don’t continue to develop at the same rate they had previously.
“But I think we’ve gotten to the point now, in terms of volume, where some of them are going to make it. Not every one of them will, but a good number of them should, based on what we have at this point.”
• Terry Collins does not foresee Wilmer Flores on the big-league roster if Flores is not a starter. Flores, meanwhile, is confident he can play shortstop on the limited occasions he gets exposure there during spring training. Read more in the Journal, Star-Ledger, Record and Newsday.
• Collins affirmed right-handed prospect Cory Mazzoni will get consideration for the Opening Day roster as a reliever, despite serving as a starter in the minors. Mazzoni actually breaking camp with the Mets would appear an uphill battle, though, unless there are injuries or Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth are busts. Further complicating it: Mazzoni is not yet on the 40-man roster. John Rowe in the Record looks at the Mets’ late-inning relief.
• How can Eric Young Jr. increase his on-base percentage? By bunting more, Collins believes.
Regarding Young’s capability to increase his OBP, Alderson tells Marc Carig in Newsday: “The question is whether he has the potential to improve on that if it becomes a priority. On-base percentage is often a function of approach as opposed to mechanics. If we were asking him to hit 30 home runs, that’s not going to work. But guys can adjust.” Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Juan Lagares will start in center field in the Grapefruit League opener on Feb. 28, but will he be in the outfield on Opening Day at Citi Field? With Curtis Granderson and Chris Young now on board, that seems to depend upon whether EY Jr. is a starter. “I think I did good last year, but I know I can do a little better,” Lagares told the Post. Read more in the Daily News.
• Hitting coach Dave Hudgens believes Travis d’Arnaud will have more success at the plate now that he is not trying to hit every pitch for a homer.
• Mets pitchers in 2013 had their most strikeouts and fewest sacrifices in the team’s past five seasons, writes Marty Noble at MLB.com. Bartolo Colon, who has not played in the National League since 2002 with the Montreal Expos, has blisters from practicing hitting so much this offseason in the Dominican Republic, according to the report.
• Kirk Nieuwenhuis is not forgotten, Collins told the outfielder Tuesday.
• Zack Wheeler does not mind getting less attention this spring training with Noah Syndergaard generating the buzz.
• Mets pitchers are not keen on wearing the new protective hats, although several pledged to try it once a shipment arrives.
• With three Mets players’ surnames beginning with lower-case “D’s -- d’Arnaud, Matt den Dekker and Jacob deGrom -- team equipment manager Kevin Kierst worked with Majestic to design lower-case uniform letters, writes Jared Diamond in the Journal.
• Unemployed reliever Tim Byrdak had a little fun tweeting a job-wanted advertisement. Read more in the Daily News.
• Free-agent Johan Santana continues discussions with the Minnesota Twins, but no deal is imminent, Venezuelan journalist Efrain Ruiz tweeted.
• The Houston Astros may relocate their spring-training complex to the area, but there are no active discussions with the Mets about sharing the Port St. Lucie complex, according to a source. The Astros, who originally tried to pair with the Toronto Blue Jays to build a complex, now may partner with the Washington Nationals somewhere in Palm Beach County, the Houston Chronicle reports.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing is pleased WOR and the Mets have found 710 ways to please their listeners. … Mets Police asks if you would trade Syndergaard and d’Arnaud for R.A. Dickey. … John Delcos at Mets Report concludes the organization has future payroll flexibility. … NY Mets Life looks at the lost art of the complete game.
BIRTHDAYS: Poet and former Mets pitcher Miguel Batista turns 43. … Alvaro Espinoza is 52. … Tim Burke turns 55.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Do you want Sandy Alderson to remain GM a few more years?
Offers have been slow so I thought I'd practice for 2018. I should have followed IKEAs directions on the sled ! pic.twitter.com/7o1LwkLdaf— Tim Byrdak (@Givemethelefty) February 18, 2014
The Mets then will have an off-day before opening the season on March 31 against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field.
The Jays benefit by expanding their fan base in Canada. And Montreal is trying to demonstrate it is worthy of getting a relocating MLB team.
The Expos moved to Washington for the 2005 season and became the Nationals.
The Mets last played at that ballpark on Sept. 23, 2004 -- during the final days of the Montreal Expos' existence. Gerald Williams and Victor Diaz homered and Tom Glavine earned the victory in the Mets' 4-2 win that day.
Teams often close spring training playing at a non-Florida or Arizona site.
FIRST PITCH: The Mets are unbeaten in their last seven road series (5-0-2), their longest streak away from Queens since winning eight straight road series in 1999.
That will be put to the test this weekend, even though the Pittsburgh Pirates have slowed and dipped into second place in the NL Central, a game behind the St. Louis Cardinals.
To open the final series before the All-Star break, Jeremy Hefner (4-6, 3.39 ERA) opposes right-hander Charlie Morton (1-2, 3.38) in today’s 7:05 p.m. opener. Carlos Torres subs for skipped Matt Harvey on Saturday, while Dillon Gee closes the first half Sunday.
Read the series preview here.
Friday’s news reports:
• Poised to be mercilessly jeered this weekend, David Wright appears to have gotten a reprieve. Wright added Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez to the Home Run Derby after Carlos Gonzalez withdrew with a sprained right middle finger, which should satisfy Pirates fans.
• Read more on Wright and the All-Star Game in the Daily News.
• Wright’s jersey, by the way, is the fourth-best seller in MLB this season. No. 5? That’s Harvey.
• The Mets, whose spring-training facility had become increasingly distant from other Grapefruit League opponents over the years as teams relocated to Arizona or the west side of Florida, are due for new neighbors. The Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays intend to move to a new facility in nearby Palm Beach Gardens.
• Ruben Tejada did not rock the boat when asked about the organization’s decision to demote him to Triple-A Las Vegas.
• Jeff Pearlman in the Journal profiles 40-year-old reliever LaTroy Hawkins.
• Wilmer Flores had two homers and a double as part of a four-hit night as Las Vegas beat Tucson, 11-3. Rafael Montero in Triple-A and Noah Syndergaard in Double-A both had starts capped at two innings to be ready to start opposite each other in Sunday’s Futures Game at Citi Field. Scott Atchison tossed a scoreless inning for Binghamton as he returns from a groin injury. Atchison is expected to be activated from the DL after the All-Star break. Cory Mazzoni reportedly felt a pop in his knee and was forced to depart Thursday’s B-Mets appearance. Read the full minor league recap here.
• Jenrry Mejia’s next start is due to be with Binghamton, writes Lynn Worthy in the Press & Sun-Bulletin. Mejia is scheduled to pitch six innings Saturday. Also on the injury front, writes Worthy:
Outfielder Alonzo Harris said he received medical clearance on Thursday to resume playing. He has been on the disabled list since June 22 with a concussion after a collision with teammates Darrell Ceciliani in the outfield. … Pitcher Tyler Pill visited NYSEG Stadium on Thursday. The right-hander, who started the season in the B-Mets rotation, had his arm in a sling. Pill was diagnosed with a Bennett lesion in May and had season-ending shoulder surgery; Pill said he expects to be able to throw again in four months.
• Venezuelan shortstop Luis Carpio was signed by the Mets on Thursday, on his 16th birthday. He received a reported $300,000. Writes Baseball America’s Ben Badler:
Carpio stands out more against live pitching than in batting practice, showing good bat control and pitch recognition, with a level swing that allows him to make a lot of contact. He’s not a big home run threat, with a swing that produces more line drives than power.
Carpio has improved his strength, bat speed and running times. He ran the 60-yard dash in 6.8 seconds in January, but multiple clubs have clocked him at 6.6 seconds recently. He’s at least a plus runner under way, though he doesn’t have a quick first step and doesn’t get out of the box quickly. He is a good athlete who will start his career at shortstop but may end up at second base or center field. His hands are solid, but his footwork needs improvement, and he has a fringe-average arm.
Scouts describe Carpio as a scrappy gamer whom managers will love because he plays hard and does a lot of things well.
• The Mets’ recent resurgence has been the result of contributions from newcomers from outside the organization and call-ups from Triple-A, writes Marc Carig in Newsday. Mike Puma in the Post notes the contribution of Eric Young Jr.
Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post says the key to a Mets turnaround will be pitching.
• With the All-Star Game in Queens, Citi Field is poised to get national attention, writes Tyler Kepner in the Times.
• Kristie Ackert in the Daily News speaks with Josh Satin. “I came up here and my goal was not to be the Mets’ starting first baseman. I know that is not realistic,” Satin said. “Of course, I want to play. I came up here to prove I can play here, to make myself part of the team so they would find ways for me to play.”
• Charles Curtis at NJ.com investigates how Citi Field might play for the Home Run Derby.
• Anthony McCarron in the Daily News previews the Mets’ and Yankees’ Futures Game participants.
• John Franco discusses his role as an All-Star Game ambassador in the Daily News.
• Fan Fest, which opens today, is previewed in the Post.
• From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report says the Mets should not trade Bobby Parnell. … Faith and Fear celebrates a milestone: 40 years since first stepping foot inside Shea Stadium.
BIRTHDAYS: Left-hander Dick Rusteck, who threw a shutout in his debut in what ended up being a brief major league career, was born on this date in 1941.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Do you think the Mets will continue their winning ways against the Pirates?
The Furries are in town to watch the Mets play.They are a great bunch and have a costume for me. pic.twitter.com/ZCoaONMLfu— Jay Horwitz (@Jay_HorwitzPR) July 11, 2013
The Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays plan to move into a new facility to be built in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Astros owner Jim Crane told the Houston Chronicle.
That is about a 45-minute drive from the Mets' home in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
It gives the Mets two additional teams within proximity, varying the opponents from a steady dose of seeing the Miami Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves in recent years. The Mets had needed to make two-hour-plus bus trips to face non-division opponents as teams in recent years left the Atlantic side of the state, including the Los Angeles Dodgers moving to Arizona and the Baltimore Orioles leaving Fort Lauderdale for Sarasota.
Laffey, 28, had a 7.20 ERA in four starts (two appearances) during his brief Mets career.
The Mets recently signed ex-Yankee D.J. Mitchell to a minor league deal. He should offset the loss of Laffey in terms of starting-pitching depth.