- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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Daisuke Matsuzaka makes his first Grapefruit League start as a Met on Sunday against the Cardinals.PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.
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.
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).
Bobby Parnell faced batters Saturday for the first time since herniated-disk surgery.
• Parnell threw batting practice Saturday, marking his first time facing batters since undergoing surgery on Sept. 10 to repair a herniated disk in his neck. Parnell still has a lingering left quadriceps strain, but the Mets plan to have the closer as well as Bartolo Colon (calf) and Jonathon Niese (shoulder) pitch in a “B” game on Thursday against the Houston Astros in Kissimmee. Read more in the Times, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, 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.
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.
“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.”
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing is impressed by how mellifluous the Mets sound this spring.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Nice to finally face hitters again. It was too long of a wait.
— Matt Koch (@mattykoch20) March 1, 2014
YOU’RE UP: Would you prefer the Dolans or Wilpons as Mets owner?