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Morning Briefing: Day off in Cincy

9/4/2014

MIAMI

FIRST PITCH: The Mets spend a day off in Cincinnati before getting back to work on Friday against the Reds.

Bartolo Colon (12-11, 4.01 ERA) opposes right-hander Alfredo Simon (13-9, 3.28) in the 7:10 p.m. series opener.

Thursday’s news reports:

Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a two-run homer, then Travis d'Arnaud had a tiebreaking RBI double in the eighth and the Mets held on to beat Miami, 4-3, in Wednesday’s rubber game at Marlins Park. Jacob deGrom allowed one run in six innings in a no-decision as he further enhanced his NL Rookie of the Year candidacy. Nieuwenhuis started over Curtis Granderson, who has sat two of the past four games.

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

• Columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record advocates Las Vegas manager Wally Backman landing a major league role with the Mets for 2015. Writes Klapisch:

You couldn’t help but wonder how Sandy Alderson really felt about Wally Backman winning the Pacific Coast League’s Manager of the Year award, considering the GM has shown no intention of giving Backman a chance in New York. It’s time to reconsider this de facto blackball, and see Backman as an asset who can help the Mets ascend toward respectability.

Of course, this would require Alderson shedding his prejudice against the very trait that makes Backman unique: He’s an independent thinker with a strong personality, as old-school as it gets. Alderson is a dominant GM who values managers that act as corporate messengers.

• Andrew Keh in the Times addresses the woes of Granderson, who is batting .210 for the season and is hitless in his last 18 at-bats. Granderson said he has remained calm despite the struggles, quipping: “There’s never been a point in breaking a bat. Then I’ve got nothing to swing with the next time up.”

Vic Black, on the DL with a herniated disk in his neck, is set to throw off a mound during Thursday’s off-day for the first time since being sidelined. Matt Harvey again will work off a mound on the off-day, but this time will simulate a pair of innings for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last October, pitching coach Dan Warthen told reporters.

• D’Arnaud’s 12 passed balls are tied with San Diego’s Yasmani Grandal and Colorado’s Wilin Rosario for the major league lead. Writes Jared Diamond in the Journal on that topic:

Mets bench coach Bob Geren, a former major league catcher, estimated that as many as a third of d'Arnaud's passed balls have come as a result of an overreliance on framing the pitch. Instead of simply catching the ball, d'Arnaud has tried to pull it back toward the strike zone a split-second too quickly, only to have it glance off his glove.

"Sometimes it's so close of a pitch that I'll try to do extra to try to really get it, instead of just, 'Oh, it's OK, we'll take this ball so the runners don't advance,'" d'Arnaud said.

Bobby Parnell, who underwent Tommy John surgery in April, plans to begin throwing off a mound after Christmas. Read more about his rehab plan in the Star-Ledger.

• L.J. Mazzilli's RBI single in the eighth lifted Las Vegas to a 5-4 win against Reno in the Pacific Coast League playoff opener.

Bronx native T.J. Rivera launched a walk-off three-run homer as Binghamton won its playoff opener against Portland, 8-5. “It's a great feeling,” Rivera told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. “All that stress kind of falls off your shoulders for a second. But, then again, there's tomorrow. You know, we've got to win three to advance. That's what our goal really is."

Savannah lost its playoff opener, 8-3. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Once reportedly poised to depart for Ottawa, Binghamton’s Eastern League club signed a lease with NYSEG stadium and committed to remain in Binghamton through 2021. A Mets official told ESPNNewYork.com earlier this year that the Mets have made a pledge to New York State officials to keep Binghamton as their Double-A home long term. The current agreement between the Mets and B-Mets runs through the 2016 season. Read more from Lynn Worthy in the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin.

• Terry Collins views Dilson Herrera as a future No. 2 hitter. Read more in Newsday.

• Mike Puma in the Post notes the Mets are mostly not shying away from using Jeurys Familia. Dan Warthen said 75-80 appearances is reasonable for the season. Familia is at 66 right now.

BIRTHDAYS: Mike Piazza turns 46. ... Luis Lopez is 44.

TWEET OF THE DAY:

YOU’RE UP: Should Wally Backman be a part of the 2015 Mets staff?