New York Mets: Wally Backman
Jeff Roberson/Associated PressDaisuke Matsuzaka makes his first Grapefruit League start as a Met on Sunday against the Cardinals.
FIRST PITCH: After two home losses to open Grapefruit League play, the Mets head south on I-95 to Jupiter to face the St. Louis Cardinals.
Fifth-starter frontrunner Daisuke Matsuzaka opposes right-hander Michael Wacha in the 1:05 p.m. game.
WOR 710 AM will broadcast the game, with Josh Lewin joined by former Mets GM Steve Phillips on the call. Phillips will handle three WOR games this week.
Eric Young Jr., held out for the first two exhibition games with a side-muscle issue, took batting practice Saturday against Bobby Parnell and is scheduled to make the trip. Due to pitch for the Mets after Dice-K: Jeurys Familia, Jose Valverde, Steven Matz, Carlos Torres, Joel Carreño and Jack Leathersich. (See the full travel list here.)
Matz, from Stony Brook on Long Island, was electric in Thursday’s intrasquad game. He flashed a 94-96 mph fastball and sharp slider that impressed the few scouts in attendance.
Sunday’s news reports:
• Pitching for the first time since undergoing surgery on a muscle in his left leg last Aug. 28, John Lannan tossed two scoreless innings in his Mets debut. Lucas Duda provided a solo homer and committed an error at first base as the Mets dropped their second straight game, 9-1 to the Miami Marlins at Tradition Field.
Veteran reliever Kyle Farnsworth’s fastball sat at only 86-88 mph and he allowed a solo homer to Austin Barnes. Josh Edgin’s velocity also sagged and his arm angle was lower in than in past years, leading scouts to worry about him, too, as he allowed five runs (three earned).
Read more in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Newsday and MLB.com.
• The Mets are projected to have the seventh-lowest payroll in the majors.
• Columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post suggests Mets owner Fred Wilpon and Knicks owner James Dolan trade teams. Writes Vaccaro:
Imagine: James Dolan never has been shy about opening his checkbook. Many’s the day when a Knicks fan has found himself saying, “If only there were no salary cap in the NBA.” Well, there’s no salary cap in MLB. Even the most fervent Dolanaphobe has to concede this much: The man will spend money. If Dolan owned the Mets they wouldn’t have had to worry about Stephen Drew because he would’ve signed Jose Reyes to a 10-year contract.
The Wilpons? Put it this way: The first time they looked at the NBA’s collective-bargaining agreement they would get good and giddy and look at each other with big smiles and say: “Wait, there’s a limit to how much money you can spend? If you don’t keep yourself under the salary cap you can be in trouble?”
• 2012 third-round pick Matt Koch threw batting practice Saturday on a back field -- his first time facing batters since getting struck with a line drive last August with low-A Savannah and getting hospitalized for three days.
• Here are Oscar predictions, courtesy of the Mets:
David Wright: Wolf of Wall Street. “It’s based on a true story. Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio were amazing.”
Travis d’Arnaud: Captain Phillips. “It reminded me of my grandfather, who also was a captain of cargo ships. Tom Hanks played a great role.”
Ike Davis: Gravity. “I saw it in an IMAX theater and it really felt like you were in space.”
Curtis Granderson: Captain Phillips “Any time you have Tom Hanks, you know it’s going to be a great performance. It was based on a true story. You really felt like you were part of the action.”
• Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger profiles Juan Lagares, who grew up playing softball and still uses the larger ball during offseason training to strengthen his throwing arm. Lagares began in the Mets organization as a shortstop. But he committed 40 errors in 82 games at the position in 2007 with Savannah and two seasons later pretty much had fully transitioned to the outfield.
• David Lennon in Newsday addresses whether Granderson’s transition from hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium to pitcher-friendly Citi Field will result in the same struggles Jason Bay endured coming to the Queens ballpark.
“Some of it kind of gets blown out of proportion. It’s still a big park, and there are times when you feel like you should be rewarded, and it gets frustrating,” Wright told Lennon. “But it's not like I think to myself, ‘Oh, God, this is changing the type of player I am.’
“Were there times it stunk to hit there? Of course. But as far as saying it changed players’ careers or didn’t allow players to be the type of players they were before, that’s nonsense. I think Jason would be the first one to tell you that it was some inconsistencies, some poor play, some injuries that just kind of spiraled out of control for him.”
• Tyler Kepner in the Times catches up with LaTroy Hawkins, who left the Mets as a free agent for a $2.5 million offer from the Colorado Rockies. Kepner notes that with Mariano Rivera’s retirement, Hawkins’ 943 games pitched make him MLB’s active leader. He debuted on April 29, 1995. Writes Kepner:
Only 15 pitchers have worked 1,000 games. It is a more exclusive club than 300 wins, 500 homers or 3,000 hits. Hawkins has never made an All-Star team, never led the league in any category except earned runs in 1999. But he is about to earn his way in.
• Triple-A Las Vegas manager Wally Backman tells Mike Puma in the Post that he spoke with two teams during the offseason about coaching in the majors but received no offers.
• A fan initiative to name three left-field sections at Citi Field “Kiner’s Korner” is chronicled in the Post. The Mets have committed to wearing a patch this season and also will have the microphone-themed emblem displayed on the outfield wall, as they did two years ago after Gary Carter’s passing.
• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post notes the Mets are considerably behind the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves, and are more akin to the Miami Marlins. Writes Sherman:
Here is the real worrisome factor for the Mets: Does anyone see that condition changing any year soon? The Nationals and Braves already are what the Mets are trying to become.
• Steve Serby in the Post has a Q&A with Chris Young. Among the exchanges, Serby gets Young’s reaction to the Mets signing him over Nelson Cruz.
“All I can do as a player is do the best that I can, and that’s the only thing that I can focus on,” Young said. “If I start focusing on what other players are out there, what other teams did, things like that can drive yourself crazy. There’s a lot of great players out there. Everybody gets different contracts and different opportunities with different teams, and as a player all you can do is go with whatever situation you feel is best for you, and that’s what I did.
“I’m excited to be here as a Met, and I’m gonna do everything that I can to the best of my abilities to help this team win.”
• Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Chase d’Arnaud, the brother of Travis, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis with that organization.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing is impressed by how mellifluous the Mets sound this spring.
BIRTHDAYS: Seattle Mariners infielder Nick Franklin, who isn’t a Met just yet, turns 23.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Would you prefer the Dolans or Wilpons as Mets owner?
Nice to finally face hitters again. It was too long of a wait.— Matt Koch (@mattykoch20) March 1, 2014
Viola, who served as low-A Savannah's pitching coach the past two seasons, will serve in that role for Wally Backman with Triple-A Las Vegas in 2014.
George Greer will return as the 51s' hitting coach.
Viola is expected to work with some of the organization's top pitching prospects to open the year, potentially including Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom.
The source could not yet guarantee Backman's return, noting it still would be possible that a newly hired manager elsewhere might want Backman on the major league staff as a coach. But, for now, the Mets fully expect Backman to continue managing the 51s next season.
In its first year as a Mets affiliate, Backman-led Las Vegas won its Pacific Coast League division with an 81-63 record before getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
The Mets return their entire major league staff in 2014, leaving no room for a promotion for Backman.
Dan Warthen, Dave Hudgens and Tim Teufel, along with the rest of the staff, all are expected to return in 2014.
Pitching coach: Dan Warthen
Hitting coach: Dave Hudgens
Bench coach: Bob Geren
First base coach: Tom Goodwin
Third base coach: Tim Teufel
Bullpen coach: Ricky Bones
Sandy Alderson previously has said he expects Wally Backman to be invited to return as Triple-A Las Vegas manager.
David Banks/USA TODAY SportsOn Monday night, the Pirates clinched their first playoff berth since 1992.
FIRST PITCH: The National League playoff field is set, with the Mets playing a role Monday night in the definitive composition.
The only question now: What is the order of finish in the NL Central?
The Washington Nationals were eliminated from playoff contention with their loss at St. Louis, officially clinching playoff spots for the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates. Pittsburgh reaches the playoffs for the first time since 1992, when Terry Collins served as bullpen coach.
St. Louis (92-65) leads the NL Central by two games over Cincinnati (90-67) and Pittsburgh (90-67) with five games remaining. Two of those teams will play in the winner-take-all wild-card game, with the winner facing the NL division winner with the best record.
That remains undetermined as well. The Atlanta Braves (92-64) right now are a half-game ahead of St. Louis for the league’s top record. The NL West-champion Los Angeles Dodgers (90-66) trail Atlanta by two games.
If the season ended right now, Atlanta would host the Pittsburgh-Cincinnati winner. And St. Louis and L.A. would meet in the other NL Division Series.
The Mets continue to try to play spoiler today at Great American Ball Park. Jonathon Niese (7-8, 3.81 ERA) opposes right-hander Mike Leake (14-6, 3.21) at 7:10 p.m.
The Mets are winless in four games against Cincinnati this season. The Reds have never swept a season series from the Mets.
Tuesday’s news reports:
• Free-agent-to-be Shin-Soo Choo produced a walk-off RBI single off the outfield wall against Sean Henn in the 10th as Cincinnati beat the Mets, 3-2, Monday night. Lucas Duda snapped an 0-for-17 skid with a solo homer and drove in both runs for the Mets.
The Mets have now played 56 extra innings this season. That is four shy of matching the franchise record, set in 1979 and duplicated in 1985. Across baseball, there have now been 237 extra innings this season, matching 2011 for the most in major league history, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News and MLB.com.
-- He would like to see Matt Harvey face batters in a “near-competitive level” of play on multiple occasions this fall in order to disprove the need for Tommy John surgery. Alderson mentioned the Arizona Fall League as a possibility, if that is allowable.
"The strong desire is that we will finish this process within the six- to eight-week time frame," Alderson told reporters. "… We're in the six- to eight-week window, but when he actually starts throwing is a little bit unclear."
-- No decision will be announced on Collins’ fate for 2014 and beyond until after the season. ESPNNewYork.com already has reported it is highly likely Collins will be invited back.
"I think I've been pretty open about my support of Terry," Alderson told reporters. "I think he's done an excellent job across the board with the talent that he's had, with the injuries that he's had to endure, with the other changes in personnel. I think he's handled all of those situations and individual events exceptionally well. On the other hand, we haven't won, and that's always an issue. But it's not always a result that can be pinned on the manager.
"Wins and losses, I don't think, ever determine a manager's fate, frankly. Even winning does not necessarily guarantee tenure. It's always a little bit subjective, in this case perhaps more so. You have to temper your evaluation with the circumstances and the context, which includes the players, the injuries, the trades, the other things that come into play on a daily basis. In anything like this, you have to constantly remind yourself of the need to be objective."
-- Wally Backman likely will be invited to manage Triple-A Las Vegas again next season. If a position became available on the major league staff, Alderson indicated Backman would receive consideration.
-- Zack Wheeler did get examined by a team doctor on call at Citi Field after complaining of shoulder stiffness in what turned out to be his final 2013 start. It was determined that no MRI would be needed. "I think if this was any other point in the season, we might back him off or skip a start," Alderson said, minimizing the issue.
Read more from Alderson in the Daily News, Newsday, Times, Star-Ledger, Record and MLB.com.
From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report believes the Mets should just announce now that Collins is returning if that is the case.
BIRTHDAYS: Hubie Brooks turns 57. … Bernard Gilkey is 47.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Who is more responsible for the Mets’ fifth straight losing season -- Sandy Alderson or Terry Collins?
Back in NY! Found an ex Hockey Player!! pic.twitter.com/El4laftbZD— Mike Piazza (@mikepiazza31) September 23, 2013
Alderson added that Backman would be considered if a spot on the major league staff became vacant.
Backman managed the 51s to an 81-63 record and division title this past season. Las Vegas was ousted by Salt Lake in the first round of the PCL playoffs.
And let’s just say Collins largely has not been thrilled with the players’ approaches at the plate after the Mets were shut out for the second time in three days Wednesday.
“We can sit here every night and discuss the same stuff over and over,” Collins said. “You’ve got to make adjustments. You can’t keep thinking you’re going to get balls to pull, or try to go up there and pull every pitch. You’ve got to step out of the batter’s box, or sit in the dugout and pay attention, and realize what the opposing pitcher is doing to get you out, and try to come up with a plan to make an adjustment at the plate and put the bat on the ball.
“I know they’re young. That’s all part of it. But, as we’ve said before, in the growing stages in this part of the year, we want to see some guys get better. And part of that getting better is being able to gather yourself on the side, and get in the batter’s box, and put a good at-bat on.”
The Mets try to get on track and avoid getting swept in the four-game series against the Washington Nationals when Aaron Harang makes his Mets debut opposite right-hander Tanner Roark at 1:10 p.m.
• Yankees president Randy Levine called it “very sad” that Bobby Valentine on Tuesday suggested the Yankees were AWOL when the city needed them after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, writes Andrew Marchand for ESPNNewYork.com. "Bobby Valentine should know better than to be pointing fingers on a day like today," Levine told Marchand. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Newsday and Star-Ledger.
• Collins will return to manage the Mets next season, Mike Puma reports in the Post. That is consistent with what ESPNNewYork.com reported Sept. 1. The organization would only shift course if something monumental occurred, such as a managerial behavior meltdown. As for the Mets’ 2-8 record in September, which is better than only the Chicago White Sox, a team official told Puma: Collins “can’t totally be graded on something he doesn’t have right now.”
As for Triple-A manager Wally Backman’s future, Puma writes:
According to sources, Backman considered tendering his resignation near the end of spring training because he was unhappy receiving orders from team officials about playing time for certain individuals. Backman then angered [Sandy] Alderson later in the season, with comments about how he would fix Ike Davis, after the first baseman was demoted to Las Vegas.
But Backman knows how to manage, something that was reaffirmed this season when he took Las Vegas to the Pacific Coast League playoffs despite having his roster decimated to fill holes with the Mets.
Look for Backman to land in another organization next season, unless the Mets are willing to give him a shot on the major league coaching staff. But such an addition could create an uncomfortable situation because of the mostly false perception that Backman would be the manager in waiting.
Puma also wrote:
Alderson, through channels, has made it known there is almost no chance he would hire popular Wally Backman to manage the Mets if there was an opening.
Backman has thrived managing at the Triple-A level, but there are fears within the organization he would clash with this front office, which -- make no mistake about it -- has the final word on everything related to the on-field product.
The Mets expect to have their first-base answer in-house, between Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Josh Satin, and will pencil in Travis d'Arnaud at catcher, Daniel Murphy at second base and [Juan] Lagares in center -- though they hope to see more offensive consistency from d'Arnaud and more plate discipline from Murphy. With David Wright back at third base, that will leave shortstop and the outfield corners as the main areas for import.
Ruben Tejada had a lost year and is out of favor and Omar Quintanilla looks like a utilityman, so shortstop will very likely be an emphasis, though the free-agent market at that premium position is less than promising. The emergence of Lagares, the addition of speedy veteran Eric Young Jr. and especially the enormous surprise season of Marlon Byrd meant a potential disaster area in the outfield was somewhat better than expected, but Byrd was traded to the Pirates and Young is seen as an excellent fourth or fifth outfielder they'd like to bring back as a backup. So outfield will once again be the biggest area to look at.
While Choo appears like the best fit, there will surely be a bidding war for a player who is second the National League with a .425 on-base percentage. Choo was below average in center field this year, but will presumably be coveted as a corner man by many teams.
• Zack Wheeler surrendered one run in seven innings, but the Mets were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention with a 3-0 loss to the Nationals on Wednesday night. The Mets mustered only three hits against Dan Haren and four relievers. Tejada went 0-for-3 in his first major league appearance since May 29.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Times, Star-Ledger, Record and MLB.com.
• Wheeler has tossed 163 2/3 innings. The organization is likely to let him make two more starts and approach 180 innings. Read more on a rookie pitcher trying to pitch deep into September in the Journal.
• The Yankees’ move to WFAN -- both AM and FM signals -- was made official Wednesday, bouncing the Mets elsewhere on the dial. Read more in Newsday, the Post and Journal.
• Wright ran the bases Wednesday for the first time since suffering a strained right hamstring. Collins estimates Wright may be back in a game by the middle of next week. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Journal.
• An MRI taken on Wednesday revealed Justin Turner suffered a small right hamstring strain a day earlier. Turner should miss a couple of games, Collins suggested.
• Binghamton manager Pedro Lopez has joined the major league coaching staff. Backman will not be added.
• D’Arnaud discusses his struggles in the Daily News. Scouts on Wednesday told ESPNNewYork.com that d’Arnaud is going to have to make his swing more compact. Right now, he is helpless against breaking balls. And it seems like he is not catching up to the fastballs he is sitting on. He is hitting .152 (10-for-66) with a homer and three RBIs since his promotion.
• Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger looks at Matt den Dekker’s season and future.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing marks the passage of another lost season. … John Delcos at Mets Report suggests Valentine is misguided judging the Yankees’ post-9/11 contribution.
BIRTHDAYS: Luis Castillo, known during his Mets days for that drop at Yankee Stadium, turns 38.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Was Bobby Valentine in the wrong disparaging the Yankees’ contribution after 9/11?
@AdamRubinESPN Why do fans insist on seeing "the kids" play, then complain with the anemic results, like the last 2 series?— Anthony Messana (@AntJCM47) September 12, 2013
Lopez will be the lone coaching call-up. A team spokesman said Wally Backman would not be joining the Mets. The Triple-A manager, including Backman last season, customarily has joined the major league staff during the final month.
"I've been telling everybody: I think the most important thing was just seeing guys grow as the season went on," Lopez said about Binghamton's season. "It's too bad at the end it went down the way it did. But you know what? There's no shame. The guys did a good job, and we just got beat by a better team."
Right-hander Noah Syndergaard went 6-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 11 regular-season starts for the B-Mets during the second half -- a number that was skewed because Syndergaard, 21, allowed nine earned runs in three innings in his final start.
"The fastball command -- that's the one thing that was impressive about him," Lopez said. "He was able to command the fastball. He was able to keep his pitch count down in order for him to pitch deep into the games. His secondary pitches were great, too. I think he's a kid that's going to be fun to watch in the next couple of years."
It will mark Kazmir’s first time facing his original organization.
“I guess you can say there will always be something there from it being the team that drafted me,” Kazmir told ESPNNewYork.com. “But it just feels like so long ago. I’m just concentrating on what I have to do and not really worried about too much of the significance of the game.”
Friday’s news reports:
• Mike Puma in the Post speculates that Las Vegas manager Wally Backman could decide to leave the organization if he is not offered a spot on Terry Collins’ 2014 staff.
• Puma in the Post revisits not signing Michael Bourn, who went to Cleveland on a four-year, $48 million deal, plus a $12 million vesting option for 2017. The Mets lucked into Marlon Byrd at $700,000 after deciding not to part with a draft pick for Bourn.
Bourn is hitting .262 with five homers, 39 RBIs and 21 steals and has a .315 on-base percentage in 490 plate appearances with the Indians.
“Where we sit right now, the answer is yeah,” manager Terry Collins told Puma about ending up better off having whiffed on Bourn. “But would Michael Bourn have made a difference in April? Come on. Maybe we wouldn’t be sitting where we are right now, so it’s a difficult thing to answer, because he was a good player, and we wanted him.
“We had high hopes. Going into the winter we thought we had a healthy Johan [Santana], we knew Matt Harvey was coming. Who knows? You put [Bourn] at the top of the order with Marlon Byrd and David [Wright] in the lineup, but we didn’t get him.”
• Robert Carson suffered the loss for a second straight night as Las Vegas fell in an 0-2 hole in its best-of-five series with a 5-4 loss at Salt Lake. Binghamton also faces elimination after losing at Trenton, 2-1, Thursday night. Read the full minor league recap here.
• Fangraphs.com looks at Juan Lagares’ outfield assists.
• Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger discusses fielding with Lucas Duda. Writes Castillo:
A couple hours before returning to where he feels most comfortable on the baseball diamond, Lucas Duda offered a brutally honest assessment of his defensive skills.
"I don’t think I’m a major league ... let me rephrase that," Duda said Wednesday in Atlanta, catching himself to avoid having a self-deprecating evaluation become a self-damning one. "I think I’m much better at first base than I am in the outfield. I’m a big guy. I’m slow. You can just tell by looking at me -- I’m a first baseman."
• Previewing the Wheeler-Kazmir matchup, Mike Kerwick in the Record notes Dan Warthen was Kazmir’s pitching coach for part of a season at Class A St. Lucie.
• The Mets need more power in their lineup, Marc Carig writes in Newsday.
• Kristie Ackert in the Daily News profiles Eric Young Jr., who is now part of one of five father-son combinations to each produce 30 steals in a season. The others: Sandy Alomar Sr. and Roberto Alomar, Bobby and Barry Bonds, Jose Cruz Sr. and Jose Cruz Jr., and Maury and Bump Wills.
• Auto shop owners near Citi Field who are being displaced through eminent domain laws are holding a hunger strike, according to the Queens Courier. Writes Melissa Chan:
The city has been urging shops to leave in order to make way for a $3 billion project to redevelop Willets Point, which includes cleaning up 23 acres of contaminated land and eventually constructing housing units and a mega mall near Citi Field. Developers need the City Council’s final approval to move Citi Field parking to Willets Point in order to construct a 1.4 million-square-foot shopping center west of the baseball stadium.
However, the Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises did not vote on the project during a September 3 hearing and is not expected to do so this month, sources said. Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, who represents the area, instead grilled city officials and developers for more answers and better relocation plans.
• From the bloggers … Mark Berman at Blogging Mets looks at potential free-agent outfielders who could play at Citi Field in 2014.
BIRTHDAYS: One-time top outfield prospect Alex Escobar turns 35.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
BINGHAMTON 5, BOWIE 3: Allan Dykstra and Travis Taijeron each homered had two RBIs in the win as Binghamton clinched its first division title since 2000. Logan Verrett gave up two runs over five innings. Box
ST. LUCIE 6, PALM BEACH 4
PALM BEACH 7, ST. LUCIE 0: Robbie Shields had a tiebreaking two-run double in the seventh in the resumption of Tuesday's suspended game. Palm Beach shut out St. Lucie on Wednesday. Starter Domingo Tapia gave up six runs in 3 1/3 innings. St. Lucie had four hits. Box 1, Box 2
KANNAPOLIS 4, SAVANNAH 3: Kannapolis tied the game in the seventh and won in a walk-off. Albert Cordero and Cole Frenzel each drove in a run. Starter Marco Camarena gave up two runs over six innings. Box
STATEN ISLAND 5, BROOKLYN 3: Staten Island scored three in the sixth to take the lead for good. James Roche went 3-for-4 with an RBI. Dawrin Frias suffered the loss after giving up five runs over five innings. Box
GCL MARLINS 10, GCL METS 3: Injured reliever Frank Francisco gave up one homer and struck out two in one inning. Box
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesMatt Harvey has a stern challenge against the Dodgers tonight.
FIRST PITCH: Matt Harvey is not opposing Clayton Kershaw. But Harvey is facing Kershaw’s Dodgers at 10:10 p.m. ET today. And Kershaw is the primary competition for the NL Cy Young Award. And the Dodgers have won 38 of their past 46 games.
So isn’t tonight a statement game for the Mets ace?
“No, no,” insisted Harvey, who is coming off a four-hit shutout against the Colorado Rockies. “I look at it more as the way we’re playing as a team now. We’re playing really good baseball. I take pride in going out there every fifth day and trying to win. It’s an important game. It’s an important series for us. Obviously the intensity has picked up a little bit as a whole, for all of us. We want to make a good run here. Having a good August is something at the break that we wanted to do. Every start from now on is real important.”
Harvey said he briefly chatted with Kershaw during the All-Star Game and “he seemed like a great guy.”
As for Kershaw being the competition for the Cy Young, Harvey added: “That’s something I haven’t even thought about. We’ve got a lot of games left.”
Meanwhile, Harvey is happy the Mets are back to a five-man rotation. Even though his ERA is a sterling 0.91 this season when pitching on extra rest, Harvey strongly prefers the routine of pitching every fifth day.
Of course, the Mets reverting to the five-man rotation means Harvey might need to be shut down with a week or so left in the season because he has reached his team-imposed innings cap.
Harvey currently is at 159 2/3 innings. He tossed 169 1/3 last year before the organization shut him down following a Sept. 19 start. So he probably has no more than 50 innings remaining. And that may be generous, considering it would mean a 40-inning jump from 2012.
“I try to go nine [innings] every start,” Harvey said. “If they start adding up, and they decide it’s time to shut it down, then that’s their call. I’m never going to want to give up the ball or not go out there. I like the five-day rotation. It’s been like that forever for a reason. If they decide I’ve had enough, then I’ve had enough.”
Harvey begrudgingly sounded like shaving one start off the end of his season would not send him into a rage.
“Maybe one start or a week, I think at that point I’ll feel like I finished a full season,” Harvey said. “But if it was two weeks or three weeks, kind of like it was last year, that’s a different story. Obviously I’m not going to be happy to miss any starts.”
Harvey (9-3, 2.09 ERA) opposes left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu (11-3, 2.99) tonight.
"He'll be pitching in front of 40,000, against a team that's red hot," Terry Collins said. "We know Matt Harvey gets fired up for challenges like that."
Tuesday’s news reports:
• Daniel Murphy had a couple of near-misses fielding in what became a three-run sixth for the Dodgers and Juan Lagares struck out on a controversial call a half-inning later with the bases loaded as L.A. beat the Mets, 4-2, Monday night. Wilmer Flores twisted his right ankle during the second inning and is questionable for tonight. Jenrry Mejia took a scoreless effort into the sixth in what became a hard-luck loss.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Star-Ledger and MLB.com.
• Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada spoke with Jared Diamond in the Journal about getting demoted to Las Vegas at this stage of their careers. “Guys sometimes get hurt, and they never get their spot back,” Wally Backman told Diamond.
• Collins said he has no intention of using Flores in the outfield, but does plan to get him a limited look at second base.
A team evaluator told Mike Puma in the Post about using Flores at second: “He has got pretty good hands and he turns the double play fine, but his range is not good at all. Murphy has definitely got more range, and that’s not saying a whole lot. I really don’t think on a championship team [Flores] can play second. He’s an RBI guy. He can drive in runs. But can he drive in enough to overshadow it?
“There are going to be so many times over the course of a season at second base you’re going to go, ‘Oh, my God.’ Is it going to get any better? I don’t think so.”
Read more on Flores in the Times and Star-Ledger.
• Read more on Harvey’s matchup against the Dodgers in the Daily News.
• Eight Mets visited the set of “Modern Family” on Monday, Justin Turner’s girlfriend tweeted. Kershaw and Jerry Hariston Jr. from the Dodgers also attended.
• Ike Davis should get a start against a lefty today or tomorrow. Davis has been an on-base machine, writes Benjamin Hoffman in the Times. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.
• David Wright remains in New York getting treatment on his strained right hamstring.
• Whether Jeremy Hefner is demoted to Las Vegas or lands on the major league disabled list will not be resolved until after another exam of his right elbow on Wednesday with team doctors, a Mets spokesman said.
• T.J. Rivera had a three-run homer and finished with four RBIs as St. Lucie beat Palm Beach, 8-4. Read the full minor league recap here.
From the bloggers ... Mark Berman at Blogging Mets says there is only room for Eric Young Jr. or Lagares in the Mets outfield in 2014 -- not both.
BIRTHDAYS: Vinegar Bend Mizell, who pitched for the ’62 Mets, was born on this date in 1930. Mizell’s actual name: Wilmer David Mizell.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Who deserves to win the NL Cy Young?
I need a good book to read. Preferably something with a lot of pictures. Any suggestions?— Noah Syndergaard (@Noahsyndergaard) August 12, 2013
Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesDavid Wright came up lame after legging out an infield single in the 10th inning.
FIRST PITCH: Terry Collins labeled Friday’s walk-off win “bittersweet.”
That is because despite beating the Kansas City Royals, 4-2, in 11 innings Friday night, the Mets lost captain David Wright to a right hamstring strain, leaving a struggling offense without its biggest weapon.
Wright will undergo an MRI today. A DL stint would appear likely.
Mike Baxter is due to join the club Saturday. That signals the Mets are content using Josh Satin and/or Justin Turner at third base in Wright’s absence.
Baxter had been demoted as part of the June 10 purge with Ike Davis and Robert Carson.
He hit .275 with five homers and 15 RBIs in 149 at-bats with Triple-A Las Vegas. During Baxter’s stint in the Pacific Coast League, his wife gave birth in New York to the couple’s first child, which should make the return to the big leagues a doubly happy event. Baxter also gives the Mets a lefty pinch hitter, which they lacked.
Meanwhile, because Carlos Torres was pressed into relief work in extra innings, Jeremy Hefner (4-8, 4.21 ERA) will move up to today’s 1:10 p.m. start on standard rest opposite left-hander Bruce Chen (4-0, 2.09). Zack Wheeler similarly will slide up to Sunday.
Saturday’s news reports:
Dillon Gee had taken a scoreless effort into the eighth inning before issuing a leadoff walk and departing with a two-run lead.
With Bobby Parnell unavailable perhaps through the weekend because of continued neck discomfort, David Aardsma was anointed the closer. Aardsma, who posted a combined 69 saves in 2009 and ’10 with the Seattle Mariners, suffered a blown save when he surrendered a ninth-inning run and failed to protect a 2-1 lead.
Read recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Times, Star-Ledger, Record, Journal and MLB.com.
• Wright, who had been dealing with a hamstring injury since last weekend in D.C., left the game in obvious discomfort after legging out an infield single to begin the 10th inning. Wright had been downplaying the issue as a manageable cramp. “Most likely not all that good,” Collins said about Wright’s injury. Wright did not speak to the media postgame.
Wright had slugged a two-run homer in the first inning -- the 220th long ball of his career. That tied Wright with Mike Piazza for second on the Mets’ all-time homer list. Darryl Strawberry has a franchise-record 252.
• Josh Edgin landed on the disabled list before Friday’s game with a hairline fracture of a rib on his left side, potentially ending his season. That paved the way for Pedro Feliciano to join the Mets.
Feliciano, who arrived in the fifth inning, entered into a pressure-packed situation in his first major league game since Oct. 2, 2010. After Aardsma blew the save, Feliciano inherited runners on the corners and two outs in a 2-2 game in the top of the ninth and coaxed a groundout from lefty-hitting Alex Gordon.
Feliciano underwent shoulder surgery and never appeared for the Yankees while collecting $8 million over the previous two seasons. He re-signed with the Mets during the offseason, but was idled during spring training because of a heart issue. Then, during the season while pitching for Class A St. Lucie and trying to build up his arm strength, Feliciano went home to Puerto Rico because his son briefly was hospitalized. Feliciano, 36, developed a type of food poisoning known as ciguatera from fish served by his mother. The ailment continued to torment him as he tried to resume pitching in the minors.
Feliciano, who made a franchise-record 92 appearances for the Mets in 2010, appeared in 22 minor league games this season across three levels before the promotion.
Read more in the Post and Star-Ledger.
Teammate Stefan Sabol tweeted: “Please pray for my teammate @mattykoch20 and his family! He was hit in the head by a line drive and I ask we pray for a speedy recovery!”
Koch did tweet: “Thank you everyone for your prayers. I'll be ok. Jus stayin in the hospital over night and havin more tests in the mornin then hopefully out”
• Jonathon Niese is due to be at Citi Field today and should throw a between-starts bullpen session. Niese tossed four scoreless innings Thursday with Class A St. Lucie in his second rehab appearance as he returns from a partial tear of his left rotator cuff. Niese likely will be activated from the DL after one more rehab appearance, which he expects will be Tuesday with Brooklyn.
• Automotive businesses adjacent to Citi Field have received 30-day eviction notices -- meaning they have to vacate the area in the next month under eminent-domain laws. The business owners are not happy. View a WPIX channel 11 report here.
• John Buck’s wife is overdue to give birth to the couple’s child. Because the Mets are now in New York, it is unclear if Buck actually will need paternity leave when the baby is born.
• Davis, after batting fourth and then fifth since his return from the minors, was dropped to seventh Friday. Davis went 3-for-3 with a walk -- although he did commit an error and avoided another when LaTroy Hawkins made a stellar play at first base to corral Davis’ off-the-mark flip. Davis might have been headed the bench today with the lefty Chen pitching, although Wright’s injury and Satin’s potential use at third base now makes that unclear.
• Jacob deGrom allowed four runs in six innings as Las Vegas lost at Nashville, 4-2. Greg Peavey took a no-hit bid one out into the sixth and Binghamton beat Harrisburg, 3-0. Lucas Duda went 3-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs and Alex Panteliodis tossed 6 1/3 scoreless innings as St. Lucie blanked Clearwater, 4-0. Jared King drove in four runs and Patrick Biondi went 4-for-5 as Brooklyn beat Jamestown, 8-1.
• Wally Backman received a two-game suspension and Valdespin and Armando Rodriguez received three-game bans for their parts in a bench-clearing brawl earlier this week in Las Vegas. Valdespin’s pimping of a homer led to an exchange of hit-by-pitches -- the latter by Rodriguez to a Sacramento batter, which prompted the benches to clear. Backman completed his suspension last night. Rodriguez, now assigned to Double-A, and Valdespin have one game remaining.
• SNY will soon give away analyst Keith Hernandez's scorecard from each game he works, writes Neil Best in Newsday.
• Dave Caldwell in the Journal profiles Juan Lagares.
• From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report believes using Wheeler out of the bullpen at the end of the season would be a mistake. ... Faith and Fear in Flushing cannot conceive of the Royals as a Mets rival, not even for a weekend.
BIRTHDAYS: Mackey Sasser, who had the throwing yips as a catcher with the Mets, turns 51. He has served as the head coach at Wallace Community College in Dothan, Ala., for 17 seasons. … Kevin Elster is 49.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
“We were just pulling off the highway getting something to eat,” said Johnson, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels out of Washington State University in the 25th round last year. “And my manager, [Jamie] Burke, called me up to the front and handed me a cell phone and said, ‘Hey, take this.’ It was Bobby Scales, our farm director. He’s just like, ‘Hey, Kyle, how are you doing?’
Johnson, 23, and his fiancée subsequently drove 16 hours over two days from Burlington, Iowa, to join the Mets’ low-A affiliate in Savannah. After eight games, he was on the move again, having been promoted to St. Lucie.
“It was kind of at the point right where I was really getting used to those guys when I moved,” Johnson said about the Gnats. “And then you come here and you start over. It’s great, too, because I’ll know a lot more people heading into spring training instead of just 25 or 30 guys I would have known if I was just in Savannah or came straight to Port St. Lucie. Now I know about 60 guys.”
Johnson fits the Mets’ profile because of his penchant for posting a high on-base percentage. He also puts up big stolen base numbers.
In his two-year pro career between the Angels and Mets, Johnson has hit .290 with a .395 on-base percentage. He has stolen 46 bases in 53 attempts in 128 career games. He also has been hit by 16 pitches. In his final college season at Washington State, Johnson had a .408 OBP and 17 steals in 22 attempts while appearing in 48 games (41 starts).
“I’ve always been a top-of-the-order-type guy,” Johnson said. “I get on base any way I can. One thing I learned in college is a hit by pitch and a walk is just as good as a hit -- just getting on base for those big Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5 hitters to get those RBIs and get me in. I’ll get RBIs every once in a while, but I kind of pride myself on stolen bases and scoring runs.”
As for the trade, Johnson said: “Just being wanted makes it a lot easier and makes it exciting. I think the Mets are giving me a real cool opportunity that maybe I wouldn’t have had with the Angels, just because of the Angels’ depth with outfielders all the way up to the top. The Mets organization is rebuilding and developing from within. So I’m really excited about that. I think I’m going to have a great opportunity here.”
Average: Victor Cruzado, Kingsport, .344; Jayce Boyd, St. Lucie, .334; Jeff McNeil, Kingsport, .333 Cesar Puello, Binghamton, .333; Wilmer Flores, Vegas, .322; Kevin Plawecki, St. Lucie, .313; Joe Tuschak, Kingsport, .308; Allan Dykstra, Binghamton, .296; LJ Mazzilli, Brooklyn, .296; Zach Lutz, Vegas, .292.
Homers: Dustin Lawley, St. Lucie, 20; Allan Dykstra, Binghamton, 18; Travis Taijeron, Binghamton, 17; Cesar Puello, Binghamton, 16; Wilmer Flores, Vegas, 14.
RBI: Wilmer Flores, Vegas, 85; Dustin Lawley, St. Lucie, 76; Cesar Puello, 73; Allan Dykstra, Binghamton, 69; Jayce Boyd, St. Lucie, 69.
Steals: Cesar Puello, Binghamton, 24; Darrell Ceciliani, Binghamton, 23; Alonzo Harris, Binghamton, 20; Patrick Biondi, Brooklyn, 15.
ERA: Rob Whalen, Kingsport, 1.36; Rainy Lara, St. Lucie, 2.19; Chris Flexen, Kingsport, 2.31; Miller Diaz, Brooklyn, 2.48; Matt Bowman, St. Lucie, 2.48; John Gant, Brooklyn, 2.56; Octavio Acosta, GCL Mets, 2.59; Robert Gsellman, Brooklyn, 2.61; Carlos Valdez, Boroklyn, 2.78; Noah Syndergaard, Binghamton, 2.80.
Wins: Gabriel Ynoa, Savannah, 11; Matt Bowman, St. Lucie, 10; Rafael Montero, Vegas, 9; Logan Verrett, Binghamton, 9; Erik Goeddel, Binghamton, 9.
Saves: Jeff Walters, Binghamton, 30; T.J. Chism, St. Lucie, 15; Beck Wheeler, Savannah, 11; Bret Mitchell, St. Lucie, 10; Hamilton Bennett, St. Lucie, 8.
Strikeouts: Rafael Montero, Vegas, 113; Noah Syndergaaard, Binghamton, 110; Matt Bowman, St. Lucie, 104; Logan Verrett, Binghamton, 104; Erik Goeddel, Binghamton, 98.
• Jayce Boyd, who is hitting a combined .334 between Savannah and St. Lucie this season, exclusively has served as DH since June 29 with the Florida State League club. Boyd, a first baseman drafted in the sixth round last year out of Florida State, has been instructed not to throw by team doctors. He is due to undergo shoulder surgery after the season. The injury does not restrict Boyd’s hitting.
• Travis d’Arnaud, who has played in six Gulf Coast League games since returning from a broken first metatarsal in his left foot, is expected to move to Double-A Binghamton.
• 2012 first-round pick Gavin Cecchini returned to shortstop for Brooklyn Saturday after missing more than three weeks with an ankle injury. He is 1-for-16 since returning from the DL.
• Trying to limit left-hander Steven Matz’s innings, the Mets skipped his last turn with Savannah. Matz has logged 81 innings this season. His previous two seasons were limited because of a prolonged recovery from Tommy John surgery and other injuries.
Matz should be an interesting case this offseason. He will be Rule 5 draft eligible, so the Mets may have to protect him, despite Matz -- the organization’s top pick in 2009 -- never having pitched above low-A. Still, despite a 2.33 ERA through 16 South Atlantic League starts and being left-handed, there is no guarantee. One scout’s report on Matz had his fastball extremely straight.
• Left-hander Pedro Feliciano last Thursday made his first Triple-A appearance since 2006, when the Mets were aligned with Norfolk. Feliciano has retired all six batters he has faced -- four lefties, two righties -- over three appearances since the promotion from Binghamton to Las Vegas.
• After a torrid start, 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo’s average has dipped to .261 with Savannah. Nimmo has struck out 99 times in 283 at-bats.
• Jordany Valdespin, the reigning Pacific Coast League Player of the Week, continues to put up gaudy numbers with Vegas. Despite losing a six-game hitting streak in Tuesday’s rain-shortened game at Nashville, Valdespin is hitting .453 (24-for-53) with three homers and 24 RBIs in 14 games since a demotion.
Of course, Valdespin triggered a bench-clearing brawl against Sacramento. After admiring a homer, Valdespin then was hit by a pitch later that night. When the Mets retaliated, with Armando Rodriguez hitting a Sacramento batter, both benches emptied. Valdespin, Rodriguez and manager Wally Backman were ejected. Valdespin went 9-for-14 in the weekend series against Sacramento.
“Valdespin being Valdespin,” said one observer. “He pimped singles more than the home run, though. He also hit .600 against this team. LOL. That will piss people off.”
• Bradley Marquez, a 16th-round pick in 2011, has returned to Texas Tech for another college football season. While splitting time between left field and center field with Kingsport, the 20-year-old Marquez hit .250 with one homer and nine RBIs in 84 at-bats. A Mets official said Marquez for the first time does plan to attend spring training in 2014, so the shift from college football to baseball as the priority looks like it will begin then.
• Right-hander Noah Syndergaard earned Eastern League Player of the Week honors. Syndergaard is 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA in seven starts since a promotion to Binghamton.
Syndergaard logged 103 2/3 innings last season in the Blue Jays organization with Class A Lansing. He has thrown 99 2/3 innings this season between St. Lucie and the B-Mets, so he probably has slightly more than 30 innings remaining this season before reaching his cap.
• Right-hander Akeel Morris, a 10th-round pick in 2010 out of the U.S. Virgin Islands, continues to post remarkable numbers with Brooklyn. Morris has tossed 25 scoreless innings. He has allowed 12 hits and 12 walks while striking out 31.
• The Mets are talking with 2011 10th-round pick Matt Budgell about returning to the organization for spring training. Budgell, a right-handed pitcher who made 12 appearances for Kingsport last year, had decided to retire from baseball earlier this year.
• Mets prospects will be assigned to the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League, on a team with farmhands from the Braves, Yankees, Pirates and Giants. Luis Rivera, the Mets’ short-season hitting coordinator, will serve as hitting coach for that AFL squad.
• 2012 seventh-round pick Corey Oswalt, a right-handed pitcher selected out of high school in San Diego, is due to undergo surgery today to repair a knee injury.
LAS VEGAS 10, SACRAMENTO 4: Starter Matt Fox allowed one run in five innings in Game 1. Matt den Dekker went 2-for-3 with a triple, three RBIs and two runs scored. In the nightcap, Jordany Valdespin had a three-run homer and Jamie Hoffmann went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Pitcher Armando Rodriguez, Valdespin and Wally Backman all were ejected in the seventh inning of Game 2, prompting Ruben Tejada to finish the game at second base. Valdespin had been hit by a pitch in the top half of the inning. The ejections occurred after Rodriguez replied in the bottom half by plunking a Sacramento player. Box 1, Box 2
ST. LUCIE 5, TAMPA 4: Rob Refsnyder’s throwing error allowed two runs to score with two outs in the bottom of the ninth as the Mets rallied past Tampa. Jayce Boyd had a one-out single. After Gilbert Gomez pinch-ran, Kevin Plawecki doubled to put runners at second and third. Matt Reynolds received an intentional walk and Robbie Shields struck out. Then, with the bases loaded and two outs, Kyle Johnson ripped a 2-2 pitch to second. Refsynder knocked it down before throwing the ball away, toward the Yankees dugout, to allow Gomez and Plawecki to score. Lucas Duda went 1-for-4 with an RBI double and played left field in his first game with Class A St. Lucie on a rehab assignment. Johnson went 1-for-5 with a double and a run scored. T.J. Rivera had two hits and an RBI double. Shields added a double and a run scored. Rainy Lara received a no-decision despite throwing seven innings and allowing two runs and eight hits with no walks. T.J. Chism allowed two runs with two outs in the top of the ninth as the Yankees took a 4-3 lead. Cody Satterwhite recorded the final out of that half-inning to earn his first win. Box
ASHEVILLE 5, SAVANNAH 4: Hunter Carnevale allowed a pair of seventh-inning runs as Asheville overcame a 4-3 deficit. Box
KINGSPORT 4, ELIZABETHTON 0: Martires Arias tossed seven scoreless innings and combined with Luis Rengel and Ricardo Jacquez on the shutout. Leadoff hitter Yeixon Ruiz scored three runs. Jeff McNeil went 3-for-3. Box
BROOKLYN 4, HUDSON VALLEY 0: Carlos Valdez tossed six scoreless innings as the Cyclones won their fifth straight. It marked the second time this season Valdez went six innings without allowing an earned run. This time, he allowed four hits, walked one and struck out three before handing the ball to Akeel Morris. Morris tossed three shutout innings to continue his spectacular season. Through 25 innings, Morris has yet to allow an earned run. He has struck out 31. Matt Oberste got the Cyclones on the board with a long ball. The homer was Oberste’s second of the season. The other came June 19 against Staten Island. After hitting only four homers through the first 36 games of the season, the Cyclones have now gone deep four times in their last four games. Oberste finished 2-for-3 with a walk. Brooklyn scored two more runs in the fourth. Oberste was involved again, leading off with a walk. Alex Sanchez followed with a double that put two runners in scoring position. James Roche took advantage, producing a two-run double. Roche has 11 doubles, tied for the team lead with Jared King. The Cyclones tallied their final run in the fifth, on a groundball that should have gotten the Renegades out of the inning. With two outs, Sanchez hit a grounder to shortstop Julian Morillo. Morillo intended to get Oberste out on the force at second, but bobbled it as King scored from third. Box
GCL CARDINALS 5, GCL METS 2: With the score tied at 2, Gaither Bumgardner (0-2) was charged with three runs on four hits and four walks in 1 2/3 innings. Travis d'Arnaud caught four innings and went 0-for-3. Vicente Lupo homered in the loss. Box
Compiled from team reports
Final NY Rangers 4 Carolina 2 Final NY Islanders 3 Calgary 4 Final New Jersey 4 Detroit 7
12:00 PM ET St. John's Marquette 4:30 PM ET Seton Hall Butler 12:00 PM ET 15 Cincinnati Rutgers 7:00 PM ET Princeton Columbia 4:30 PM ET G. Washington Fordham 12:00 PM ET Hofstra Delaware 6:30 PM ET St. Peter's Manhattan 12:00 PM ET Rider Iona 12:00 PM ET Mount St Mary's Wagner 6:00 PM ET Maine Stony Brook
7:30 PM ET Philadelphia New York 7:30 PM ET Toronto Brooklyn
7:00 PM ET NY Rangers Carolina 7:00 PM ET New Jersey Philadelphia