New York Mets: Zach Lutz

Minors 4.14.14: B-Mets' Burgamy homers

April, 14, 2014
Apr 14
10:24
PM ET
LAS VEGAS 5, FRESNO 2: Noah Syndergaard allowed two runs on five hits and two walks in five innings. Eric Campbell, who entered on a 10-game hitting streak, started at shortstop for the first time in his seven-year professional career. He went 0-for-4 to lose the streak. Wilmer Flores started at second base for the first time this season after exclusively playing shortstop through his first eight games. Chris Young played a full game in left field in the second game of a rehab assignment with the 51s. He went 2-for-3 with two walks and has now reached base in nine of 10 plate appearances in Triple-A. Las Vegas broke a 2-all tie with a three-run sixth against Jake Dunning. Flores had a tiebreaking RBI single. Allan Dykstra then walked and Zach Lutz was hit by a pitch to force in runs. Box

PORTLAND 9, BINGHAMTON 4: Portland scored six runs against Greg Peavey and Adam Kolarek in the sixth inning en route to a series-opening win. The Sea Dogs opened the scoring in the second inning against Peavey on Sean Coyle's two-run homer over the Maine Monster. Binghamton matched Coyle’s blast with a Monster shot of its own in the third. With two outs, Henry Owens issued a four-pitch walk to Kyle Johnson. Brian Burgamy then tied the score with his fourth homer of the road trip. Kevin Plawecki kept the inning alive with a double and Matt Clark gave Binghamton a 4-2 lead by crushing a drive over the right-center wall. Peavey followed by posting three perfect innings. He required only 25 pitches to retire the nine hitters. Mookie Betts’ double to lead off the sixth snapped a stretch of 10 straight batters retired by Peavey. After Peavey walked two to load the bases, Carlos Rivero made it a one-run game with a sac fly. Kolarek entered and former Mets farmhand Stefan Welch greeted the southpaw by lacing a two-run, go-ahead double. Blake Swihart, Coyle and Peter Hissey tacked onto the lead with run-producing singles. Peavey (0-1) allowed five runs on two hits while walking four in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out a Double-A career-high seven batters. Two of the runs charged to him scored after Kolarek entered. Box

JUPITER 12, ST. LUCIE 3: The Hammerheads pushed across nine runs on seven hits, three walks and one hit batter in the seventh, turning a 3-1 lead into a rout. Julian Hilario loaded the bases with no outs and walked in a run. He was replaced by Bret Mitchell, who gave up all of Hilario’s inherited runners and five of his own. After Matt Juengel drew a bases-loaded walk from Mitchell to make it 12-1, Jake Kuebler entered and recorded the final out. Earlier in the frame, Juengel laced a two-run double. Noah Perio added a two-run triple. Luis Cessa took the loss. He gave up two runs in five innings. Both runs scored on Viosergy Rosa’s single in the first. The Mets cut their deficit to 2-1 in the third on Aderlin Rodriguez's single. They nearly tied the score in the fourth on Maikis De La Cruz's double, but Rafael Furcal -- playing on a rehab assignment for the Marlins -- gunned down Phillip Evans on a relay throw to home to end the inning. Furcal went 1-for-1 with a single, two walks, a stolen base and a run scored. Trevor Williams earned his first win for the Hammerheads. He allowed 10 hits but only one run in six innings. Brandon Nimmo went 2-for-5 and extended his hitting streak to six games. He has a hit in 10 of 11 games this season. Dilson Herrera doubled in the third to extend his hitting streak to six games. De La Cruz homered in the seventh to finish with a two-hit game. Rodriguez, T.J. Rivera and Robbie Shields also had multi-hit games for the Mets. Box

SAVANNAH 0, AUGUSTA 0 (suspended): Rain and poor conditions at Lake Olmstead Stadium forced Monday’s game to be suspended. It will be completed Tuesday. Neither Gnats right-hander Kevin McGowan nor GreenJackets left-hander Christian Jones had allowed a run when the game was halted. Leonardo Rojas had just hit a one-out double off McGowan in the bottom of the fifth when the umpires decided to postpone the game. Rojas’ double was the second hit allowed all game by McGowan. The first hit was Shawne Payne's leadoff single in the first. Jones was even sharper for Augusta, allowing no hits while fanning seven batters through five innings. Jones’ lone flaw was a walk to Gnats DH Jared King in the first inning. Box

Compiled with team reports

Minors 4.10.14: Bronx's Rivera nets 5 RBIs

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
11:29
PM ET
LAS VEGAS 6, SACRAMENTO 5: The 51s scored five runs (four unearned) in the eighth, taking advantage of two Sacramento errors, for the come-from-behind victory. Third baseman Zach Lutz delivered a two-run double to right-center to give Las Vegas the lead. Jacob deGrom allowed one run on four hits and two walks in five innings. He threw 85 pitches (53 strikes). The lone run against him came on a second-inning solo homer by Michael Taylor. Joe Blanton limited the 51s to a solo homer by Danny Muno in 5 2/3 innings. Box

BINGHAMTON 9, NEW HAMPSHIRE 1: Darin Gorski established a Double-A career high in strikeouts with 10 to lead the B-Mets to their fourth straight win. In the second, Jayce Boyd smoked a double against New Hampshire starter Austin Bibens-Dirkx. Dustin Lawley followed with a towering two-run homer. New Hampshire threatened in the third

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with a one-out triple by Michael Crouse, but failed to score. Jon Berti used speed to put the Fisher Cats on the board in the fourth. He led off the frame with a bunt single, stole second and third and scampered home when Kevin Plawecki’s throw to third tailed into left field. Gorski followed by issuing a pair of one-out walks, but avoided more harm by coaxing an inning-ending double-play grounder from Gabe Jacobo. Following two-out singles by Matt Reynolds and Kyle Johnson in the fifth, Brian Burgamy blasted a 2-1 pitch from Bibens-Dirkx off the base of the video board in right-center. His first homer as a B-Met pushed the lead to 5-1. Gorski preserved the lead with a perfect fifth. He worked around two singles to post a scoreless sixth. With runners on first and second, the southpaw capped his performance by striking out Ryan Schimpf to cap a nine-pitch at-bat. Gorski (1-0) was charged with one unearned run on three hits over six innings. Jon Velasquez and Adam Kolarek combined to toss three scoreless relief innings. Gorski’s professional career high in strikeouts came as a St. Lucie Met against Dunedin on May 26, 2011 with 13. Reynolds went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI in the ninth spot in the batting order. Darrell Ceciliani extended his season-opening hitting streak to five games. Box

ST. LUCIE 13, JUPITER 3: The Mets produced a season-high 20 hits, with everyone in the lineup hitting safely. Jairo Perez went 5-for-6 with two doubles and three runs scored. T.J. Rivera finished 4-for-6 with five RBIs. St. Lucie took a 2-0 lead in the first inning when

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Rivera tagged Jupiter started Josh Hodges for a two-out, two-run single. The Mets broke it open with six runs on eight hits in the second. The team hit for the cycle in the frame. Brandon Nimmo cranked a two-run homer, Dilson Herrera legged out a triple and Perez, Maikis De La Cruz and Eudy Pina doubled. Rivera, Cam Maron and Albert Cordero all singled. All the damage was done against Hodges. The Mets tacked on two more runs in the fourth on two hits, including Rivera’s fourth RBI. He added a run-scoring single in the fifth against Tyler Kane. Rivera now has 10 RBIs, which rank second in the Florida State League. St. Lucie made it 13-1 in the eighth on Aderlin Rodriguez's RBI double. St. Lucie starter Gabriel Ynoa allowed one run and four hits in six innings. He struck out the side in the fourth. Jake Kuebler pitched the final three innings to qualify for the save. Kuebler struck out two and gave up two unearned runs. Joining Perez and Rivera with multihit games: Herrera, Nimmo, Rodriguez and Cordero. Box

SAVANNAH 12, ROME 5: Stefan Sabol had a three-run homer in the first inning and the Gnats never looked back. Jeff McNeil and Jared King also had three RBIs apiece. Patick Biondi went 3-for-4 with a walk and scored three times. Starter Miller Diaz allowed three runs in four innings. Piggybacking Robert Whalen earned the win after limiting Rome to one run on three hits and three walks in four innings. Box

Compiled with team reports

Minors 4.9.14: Bowman wins B-Mets debut

April, 9, 2014
Apr 9
11:33
PM ET
SACRAMENTO 7, LAS VEGAS 4: Noah Syndergaard allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits and two walks in five innings. He struck out two in a 91-pitch effort that included 61 strikes and suffered the loss. Eric Campbell, on his 27th birthday, had produced a two-run homer in the fourth that evened the score at 2. Bobby Abreu went 2-for-4 with a walk and ninth-inning RBI and is now hitting .500 with the 51s. Dana Eveland allowed two runs in the top of the ninth as Sacramento took a 7-3 lead. Zach Lutz went hitless to snap a season-opening six-game hitting streak. Wilmer Flores started for a fourth straight day at shortstop since joining Vegas and committed a second-inning fielding error, resulting in an unearned run. Box

BINGHAMTON 7, ERIE 2: Matt Bowman struck out the side in the first and ultimately tossed five strong innings in his Double-A debut and Wilfredo Tovar produced a three-RBI

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game to lead the B-Mets to their third straight victory. Facing Jeff Ferrell, Cory Vaughn opened the bottom of the second with a single, stole second, moved to third on a groundout and scored when Tovar singled. Bowman's only blemish came in the fourth, when he surrendered an RBI single to Ramon Cabrera, tying the score at 1. Binghamton used a two-out rally to break the tie in the fifth. Kevin Plawecki chased Ferrell with a single. Matt Crouse entered, and Jayce Boyd lofted Crouse’s second pitch into the right-field corner for a go-ahead RBI double. Darrell Ceciliani plated Boyd with a single. The B-Mets added to their lead without collecting a hit in the sixth. Matt Reynolds reached second on a throwing error by third baseman Francisco Martinez, took third on a flyout and scored on Kyle Johnson’s sac fly. Binghamton put the game away with three runs in the seventh against Keith Faulk. Travis Taijeron ripped an RBI double and Tovar blooped a two-run single inside the right-field line. Bowman (1-0) went five innings. He allowed one run on three hits while striking out four. John Church posted two scoreless relief innings. T.J. Chism surrendered a run in the eighth. Jack Leathersich closed out the victory with a scoreless ninth. Box

ST. LUCIE 5, JUPITER 2: St. Lucie, which snapped a four-game losing streak, scored three runs in the third -- ending a 23-inning scoreless drought. Dilson Herrera led off the frame with a single and Brandon Nimmo followed with a walk. Jairo Perez put the Mets on the board with a single. Aderlin Rodriguez grounded out to plate Nimmo. Cam Maron capped the inning with an RBI double. That was enough for starter Matt Koch, who scattered eight hits and two runs in six innings. Koch retired eight in a row between the second and fifth innings. The Mets added to their 3-0 lead in the fifth when Rodriguez grounded into a double play but scored Nimmo from third. Ross Wilson put the Hammerheads on the board with a two-out, run-scoring single in the bottom half. Jupiter pulled within 4-2 in the sixth when Austin Barnes doubled and Viosergy Rosa singled him home with two outs. However, Koch settled down to get Matt Juengel to fly out to end inning and complete his outing. The Mets got the run back in the seventh on a Herrera's RBI hit. Randy Fontanez pitched two scoreless relief innings, striking out five. Beck Wheeler walked two batters in the ninth, but he struck out Ryan Goetz on a full-count offering and induced a harmless fly ball from Wilson to end the game. Perez and Herrera collected two hits apiece. Nimmo had a hit and walked twice. He has now reached base safely in all six games. Box

AUGUSTA 8, SAVANNAH 3: Savannah starter Ricky Knapp cruised through the first two innings on 19 pitches. However, the first two batters in the third reached on singles. Then, shortstop Gavin Cecchini allowed a potential double-play grounder to scoot by him for an error. A walk, a two-run single and a walk later and the GreenJackets had a 3-0 lead and the bases loaded, ending Knapp’s night. He would eventually be charged with six runs (three earned) in 2 1/3 innings. Reliever John Mincone entered with one out in what became an eight-run inning. The Gnats (3-3) scored their only runs in the sixth. Cecchini plated Colton Plaia with a line-drive single for the first run. Later in the inning, L.J. Mazzilli ripped a single through the left side, driving in two runs. Jared King went 2-for-3 with a walk for the Gnats. Savannah reliever Akeel Morris was electric over three innings. After walking the first batter he faced, he struck out nine of the next 10 batters. In the eighth, Morris fanned four batters. His first victim of that frame, Christian Paulino, reached on a wild pitch. Box

Compiled from team reports

Farm report: Who's on 1st? Boyd again

April, 9, 2014
Apr 9
8:45
AM ET
Jayce Boyd hit a combined .330 with nine homers and 83 RBIs in 458 at-bats last season between Savannah and St. Lucie.

After June 28, however, the righty-hitting/righty-throwing Boyd was limited to DH because of thoracic outlet syndrome. That compression in the shoulder led to tingling as he released the baseball -- “like hitting your funny bone on something” -- and compromised throwing.

Boyd, 23, had early symptoms dating back to his college days at Florida State. He had the issue surgically repaired in late September by doctor Robert Thompson in St. Louis and resumed playing first base on Opening Day this month for Double-A Binghamton.


Courtesy of Binghamton MetsJayce Boyd


Thompson is the same doctor who surgically repaired Dillon Gee’s throwing shoulder in 2012 after the near-complete blockage of an artery led to numbness in his arm.

“I came into [last] season prepared and ready to go,” said Boyd, a sixth-round pick in 2012. “It obviously takes a toll on anyone just playing pretty much every day. It got fixed, and I’m excited to move on.”

Boyd’s .330 average ranked first in the organization last season, while his 83 RBIs trailed only Dustin Lawley (96) and Wilmer Flores (86).

“Last year was great, getting to learn what I am as a hitter and refining my approach, how to translate it from college into the professional atmosphere,” Boyd said. “… I did widen my stance a little bit and just tried to refine my zone as far as pitches I wanted to hit and drive. Working counts and getting into good hitting counts is obviously the goal of hitting. Last year, I got much better at laying off the marginal pitches, whether it was fastballs or offspeed -- the marginal ones I knew I could put in play, but I just couldn’t put in play hard. I think that’s what I’ve gotten better at -- swinging at better pitches that I know I can drive.”

As for his power potential, Boyd added: “My approach has never really been to hit home runs. My approach isn’t to get in the box and try to hit the ball out of the ballpark. My philosophy is to hit the ball gap to gap and be more, I guess, a doubles guy than a home-run guy. But I think those translate into home runs eventually as you get stronger and progress as a hitter.”

After starting at first base on Opening Day for the B-Mets, Boyd served as designated hitter the next two games. That was not about easing him back after the shoulder injury, Boyd suggested. Instead, it was about ensuring playing time for teammates. Matt Clark, who slugged 25 homers in Japan last season, started Game Nos. 2 and 3 at first base. Boyd returned to first base Tuesday, with Clark DHing.

“I think we just have a lot of guys in our lineup who are pretty much everyday guys,” Boyd said. “So everyone is getting in the rotation and getting their chance to play.”

As for his 2014 goals, Boyd said: “I’m just refining my approach still, growing as a player. And getting back into playing first base. It’s been a while since I played first every day and felt comfortable over there. It’s an exciting feeling to get out there and to be able to play comfortably and not have to worry about anything anymore -- any symptoms coming back.”

Organization leaders

Average: Zach Lutz, Vegas, .500; Matt Clark, Binghamton, .412; Eric Campbell, Vegas, .360; Jared King, Savannah, .357; Patrick Biondi, Savannah, .353; Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Vegas, .346; Brandon Nimmo, St. Lucie, .313; T.J. Rivera, St. Lucie, .313; Wilfredo Tovar, Binghamton, .308; Cesar Puello, Vegas, .304.

Homers: Eric Campbell, Vegas, 1; Zach Lutz, Vegas, 1; Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Vegas, 1; Matt Clark, Binghamton, 1; Gilbert Gomez, St. Lucie, 1; T.J. Rivera, St. Lucie, 1; Patrick Biondi, Savannah, 1; Gavin Cecchini, Savannah, 1; Victor Cruzado, Savannah, 1; Stefan Sabol, Savannah, 1.

RBIs: Zach Lutz, Vegas, 9; Eric Campbell, Vegas, 7; Jared King, Savannah, 7; T.J. Rivera, St. Lucie, 5.

Steals: Jeff McNeil, Savannah, 2.

ERA: Dario Alvarez, Savannah, 0.00; Jacob deGrom, Vegas, 0.00; Hansel Robles, Binghamton, 0.00; John Gant, Savannah, 1.50; Logan Verrett, Vegas, 1.50; Domingo Tapia, St. Lucie, 1.80; Dawrin Frias, Savannah, 2.08; Seth Lugo, St. Lucie, 2.08; Rafael Montero, Vegas, 2.45.

Wins: Josh Edgin, Vegas, 1; Erik Goeddel, Vegas, 1; Daisuke Matsuzaka, Vegas, 1; Noah Syndergaard, Vegas, 1; Jeff Walters, Vegas, 1; Rainy Lara, Binghamton, 1; Jack Leathersich, Binghamton, 1; Cody Satterwhite, Binghamton, 1; Gabriel Ynoa, St. Lucie, 1; Dawrin Frias, Savannah, 1; John Gant, Savannah, 1; Tim Peterson, Savannah, 1.

Saves: Chasen Bradford, Binghamton, 2; Robert Coles, Savannah, 1; Jeff Walters, Vegas, 1; Beck Wheeler, St. Lucie, 1.

Strikeouts: Rafael Montero, Vegas, 14; Hansel Robles, Binghamton, 8; Dawrin Frias, Savannah, 7; John Gant, Savannah, 7; Jack Leathersich, Binghamton, 7.

Short hops

• After Eric Campbell started three straight games at first base to open the season with Las Vegas facing southpaws, Campbell shifted to second base the next two games against right-handers. That allowed Wally Backman to start Allan Dykstra at first base. Team officials say that it more about trying to get both bats into the lineup than a burning desire to see Campbell at second base. Campbell, who nonetheless should benefit from the increased versatility, last played second base in 2008 with Brooklyn, in his first professional season.

• Mets doctors have diagnosed Cory Mazzoni with a lat strain, a team official said. The preliminary diagnosis had involved the triceps. Mazzoni apparently is now not particularly close to joining the Triple-A Las Vegas rotation, but Mets officials are relieved it is neither a shoulder nor elbow injury that might raise alarm. Mazzoni was forced to pull himself from the Grapefruit League finale as the Mets were breaking camp two weeks ago.

Zach Lutz is off to a strong start at the plate with Vegas. Not only is the third baseman hitting an organization-best .500, he also has a .679 on-base percentage through six games with the 51s.

(Read full post)

Minors 4.8.14: Clark homer lifts B-Mets

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
11:48
PM ET
LAS VEGAS 7, SACRAMENTO 6: Rafael Montero allowed three runs on six hits and a walk while striking out nine in five innings. He threw 92 pitches (66 strikes). Eric Campbell delivered a tiebreaking two-run homer in the seventh against ex-Met Philip Humber and the 51s held on. Jeff Walters tossed a scoreless ninth for his first Triple-A save. The 51s improved to 5-1. Zach Lutz went 1-for-3 with a walk and is batting .500. Noah Syndergaard is scheduled to start Wednesday for Vegas. Box

BINGHAMTON 7, ERIE 2: Matt Clark collected three hits, including a tiebreaking homer, and Darrell Ceciliani drove in three runs on a pair of doubles as part of Binghamton’s 10-

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hit attack. The B-Mets scored seven unanswered runs, all with two outs, and received five scoreless innings from their bullpen. Binghamton was forced to play catch-up . Following a two-out single by Eugenio Suarez in the first, Erie's Aaron Westlake barely cleared the wall in right for a two-run homer. B-Mets starter Greg Peavey settled down after the round-tripper and posted three scoreless innings. Binghamton started its impressive run against Wilsen Palacios in the second inning. With two outs and two aboard, Ceciliani sent a blooper into right-center. The looping fly ball dropped untouched, allowing both runners to scamper home, tying the score at 2.

Clark broke the tie with authority in the fourth. The DH launched Nick Avila’s 0-1 pitch deep over the right-center wall, giving the B-Mets a 4-2 lead. Wilfredo Tovar kept up the impressive two-out magic and kicked Binghamton’s lead to three in the fifth with an RBI triple. The run continued against reliever Pat McCoy in the sixth. With Jayce Boyd on first, Dustin Lawley hit a grounder to Eugenio Suarez’s extreme right. The shortstop ranged to get to the roller, but his throw to second sailed wide and bounced into right field, allowing Boyd to score. Ceciliani capped the B-Mets' offensive night with a two-out RBI double off McCoy in the eighth. On the pitching side, Peavey exited after throwing 75 pitches in four innings. Cody Satterwhite took over in the fifth and delivered 2 1/3 scoreless relief innings. Adam Kolarek entered with one out in the seventh and closed the door on a threat, then posted a scoreless eighth. Jon Velasquez worked around a single and a walk in a scoreless ninth. Satterwhite (1-0) allowed two hits and struck out three to earn his first Double-A victory since July 23, 2009, when he was an Erie SeaWolves player. Clark’s long ball marked his first homer in the United States since Aug. 4, 2012 when he went deep as a Tucson Padre. He had 25 homers last season in Japan. Box

JUPITER 11, ST. LUCIE 0: Austin Brice limited the Mets to three hits over five innings while striking out seven as St. Lucie dropped its fourth straight. Relievers Chipper Smith and Frankie Reed completed the shutout. The Mets have now been held scoreless for 21 consecutive innings. The game was close until the seventh. The Hammerheads scored once in the first and once more in the fourth on a sac fly to take a 2-0 lead. But after a short rain delay in the seventh, Austin Barnes tagged Beck Wheeler for a two-run homer that made it 5-0. The game unraveled in the eighth when Jupiter plated six runs on seven hits, all against Julian Hilario. The Hammerheads pounded out 17 hits. Luis Cessa took the loss, although he only surrendered two runs over six innings. He scattered eight hits. Box

SAVANNAH 6, AUGUSTA 5
SAVANNAH 3, AUGUSTA 1:
In Game 1, L.J. Mazzilli drove in the winning run in walk-off fashion with a bases-loaded walk. Stefan Sabol had homered to tie the score in the sixth. The comeback made a winner of reliever Dawrin Frias, who struck out three in two innings. Starter Kevin McGowan surrendered five runs (three earned) in five innings. Game 2 was less tense as the Gnats led all the way. In the first inning, Victor Cruzado and Jared King both singled. After a wild pitch, they scored on Mazzilli’s single. Game 2 starter Dario Alvarez was sharp, fanning five batters in his four scoreless innings. Box 1, Box 2

Compiled with team reports

Minors 4.7.14: Dice-K makes 51s debut

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
2:45
AM ET
LAS VEGAS 7, SACRAMENTO 6: Matt den Dekker (2-for-5, two RBIs) delivered a walk-off infield single to first base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth that scored Cesar Puello (2-for-4, double, RBI) from second base. Puello had walked and stole second base. Third baseman Zach Lutz was 1-for-1 with three walks and three runs scored as Las Vegas improved to 4-1. Lutz is hitting .533. Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched five innings in a no-decision. He allowed three runs on five hits and four walks and struck out four in a 90-pitch effort. Wilmer Flores (1-for-4) started at shortstop in his season debut with the 51s. Bobby Abreu, serving as DH, had two doubles in five at-bats. Box

ERIE at BINGHAMTON (ppd.): The game will be made up as part of a June 14 doubleheader.

AUGUSTA at SAVANNAH (ppd.): The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader Tuesday beginning at 5:35 p.m.

Compiled with team reports

Morning Briefing: Mets head south

April, 7, 2014
Apr 7
5:38
AM ET
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: The Mets spend a day off in Atlanta before opening a three-game series Tuesday against the Braves at Turner Field.

The three-city trip also takes the Mets to Anaheim and Phoenix.

With the Mets departing New York, Matt Harvey (elbow) and Chris Young (quadriceps) will shift their rehabs to the team’s complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Bartolo Colon starts Tuesday’s 7:10 p.m. series opener opposite ex-Met Aaron Harang.

The Braves will have a pregame ceremony to recognize the 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron unseating Babe Ruth as MLB’s home-run king.

Monday’s news reports:

Bobby Parnell has decided to undergo Tommy John surgery now rather than first attempt a rehab program. Team doctor David Altchek is scheduled to replace the partially torn medial collateral ligament in Parnell’s right elbow on Tuesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery. Jose Valverde is now locked in as the closer. Read more in the Times, Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger and at MLB.com.

Jonathon Niese took a scoreless effort into the sixth inning in his return from the disabled list, but the southpaw was charged with the loss as the Cincinnati Reds avoided getting swept with a 2-1 win against the Mets on Sunday at Citi Field. Reds starter Alfredo Simon consecutively struck out Daniel Murphy and David Wright in the third inning to strand two runners in scoring position. Travis d’Arnaud, despite one deep shot to left field, remained hitless this season. He is 0-for-15. The Mets went 2-4 on the homestand. They struck out 61 times, the most in the first six games of a season in franchise history.

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Journal, Newsday and Times.

• Terry Collins affirmed Lucas Duda will start Tuesday in Atlanta as the team’s commitment to him at first base -- aside from Ike Davis’ start Sunday -- continues.

Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post asserts the Mets ought to make a decision already. Writes Kernan:

That the Mets don’t have a final read on Duda and Davis in Year Four of the Sandy Alderson Regime is hard to comprehend. Davis has more than 1,700 plate appearances in the majors, Duda is closing in on 1,300. Make a decision and if that decision is to go with Duda, trade Davis.

“The Mets are afraid they are going to get burned on a Davis trade," a scout said at the game. “They can’t think like that. They have to have the courage of their convictions and make a trade."


Read more at MLB.com.

• A half-inning after Jeff Walters suffered a blown save, Zach Lutz produced a walk-off RBI double as Las Vegas beat Fresno, 6-5, Sunday. Hansel Robles tossed five scoreless innings in his Double-A debut and Binghamton held on to beat Akron, 5-4. Domingo Tapia’s wild pitch allowed the lone run to score in St. Lucie’s 1-0 loss to Palm Beach. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Jeff Pearlman at Bleacher Report recounts his guilt in the 15 years since the publication of a Sports Illustrated article in which he quoted John Rocker ranting about a variety of topics, including New York’s 7 train.

• Troy Renck in the Denver Post applauds Murphy’s decision to miss two games to be with his wife and newborn child.

From the bloggers ... With Niese here, Faith and Fear in Flushing notes the gang's all here. Well, for the moment.

BIRTHDAYS: Mets bullpen coach Ricky Bones turns 45 ... Vinny Rottino is 34.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Will Jose Valverde be able to handle the closer’s role?

Minors 4.6.14: Drama in Las Vegas

April, 6, 2014
Apr 6
7:10
PM ET
LAS VEGAS 6, FRESNO 5: With the game tied in the bottom of the ninth and two outs, Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a double and Zach Lutz then doubled him home, as the 51s won in walk-off fashion. Eric Campbell had two hits. Logan Verrett started and gave up three runs (one earned) on eight hits in six innings in his Triple-A debut. Jeff Walters blew the save by giving up a run in the top of the ninth, but ended up with a win. Box

BINGHAMTON 5, AKRON 4: Matt Clark and Dustin Lawley each went 3-for-4, and Kevin Plawecki was 2-for-4. Hansel Robles started and pitched five shutout innings in his Double-A debut, striking out eight and allowing just two hits. Jack Leathersich was charged with a blown save after giving up two runs in 1 1/3 innings, but ended up with the win. Box

PALM BEACH 1, ST. LUCIE 0: Phillip Evans had two of the Mets' five hits. Brandon Nimmo went 0-for-3 but had a walk and has now reached base in all four games. Domingo Tapia started and went five innings, giving up one run on three hits. Box

LAKEWOOD at SAVANNAH (ppd.): The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader in Lakewood, N.J., later this month.

Minors 4.5.14: Lara wins Double-A debut

April, 5, 2014
Apr 5
10:12
PM ET
FRESNO 8, LAS VEGAS 6: One out from victory, Josh Edgin and Erik Goeddel combined to allow seven ninth-inning runs as Fresno overcame a 6-1 deficit in the final frame. Jacob deGrom had limited Fresno to one run on four hits and a walk while striking out six in six innings. Cesar Puello and Taylor Teagarden had three hits apiece in the loss. Zach Lutz drove in two runs, giving him eight RBIs through three games. Box

BINGHAMTON 6, AKRON 3
AKRON 3, BINGHAMTON 0: In Game 1, Binghamton took advantage of strong winds to grab the lead in the first as Matt Clark’s fly ball to right field turned into an adventure for Jordan Smith. The outfielder misplayed the drive, allowing Kyle Johnson to score from first

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base with the game’s initial run. The B-Mets doubled the lead on a two-out RBI single from Wilfredo Tovar in the second against Akron starter Joe Colon. The RubberDucks got to B-Mets starter Rainy Lara in the third with a game-tying two-run homer from Francisco Lindor. Lara then rebounded with two scoreless innings. With the score tied at 2, Colon pitched himself into trouble in the fifth. Following Johnson’s single, Kevin Plawecki and Clark drew two-out walks to load the bases. Reliever Tyler Sturdevant entered and induced Jayce Boyd to hit a fly ball. Battling the wind, Smith misplayed the drive into a two-run double. Dustin Lawley followed with a two-run single. Owning a four-run lead, Lara returned for the sixth and surrendered back-to-back singles. He then coaxed a flyout from Jake Lowery before giving way to Adam Kolarek. The southpaw gave up a run-producing fielder’s choice before fanning Bryson Myles to end the inning. Chasen Bradford worked around a leadoff double to post a scoreless seventh for his first 2014 save. Lara (1-0) earned the win in his Double-A debut. He scattered eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. He allowed three runs, struck out three and walked one.

In Game 2, Tyler Pill was tagged for a run on three hits in the second. In the third, Pill surrendered a leadoff homer to Joe Wendle. The RubberDucks plated another run in the fourth. Jerrud Sabourin walked with one out and moved to second on a groundout. The next batter, Tyler Naquin, singled to plate Sabourin. Pill (0-1) exited after four innings. He was tagged for three runs on six hits. John Church and Jon Velasquez combined to hold Akron hitless over the final three frames. Box 1, Box 2

PALM BEACH 8, ST. LUCIE 3: David Washington belted a three-run homer with two outs on an 0-2 pitch from Michael Fulmer in the first inning and the Cardinals never looked back. Gilbert Gomez homered in his first at-bat of the season in the third, but the Cardinals stretched their lead to six runs by belting out four consecutive run-scoring base hits against Fulmer with two outs in the fourth. Trailing 7-1, the Mets tried to claw their way back in the game. Gomez hit a ground-rule double and Brandon Nimmo followed with an RBI single in the sixth. Later in the frame, Dilson Herrera cut the deficit to 7-3 with a hit that plated Nimmo. The Mets had their best chance to make it a game in the seventh when they loaded the bases on three walks. However, Iden Nazario struck out T.J. Rivera on a full-count offering to end the threat. Fulmer took the loss. He lasted 3 2/3 innings and was tagged for 11 hits and seven runs. Seth Lugo pitched the remainder of the game. He allowed one run and two hits in 4 1/3 innings. Box

LAKEWOOD 6, SAVANNAH 2: In the first, Savannah's Victor Cruzado capped a 10-pitch at-bat by belting a full-count offering over the right-field wall for his first 2014 homer. The BlueClaws pulled ahead for good a half-inning later. Savannah starter Chris Flexen walked Zach Green. Two outs later, Gabriel Lino followed with a two-run double. In the fourth, Willians Astudillo produced a three-run double. All five runs Flexen allowed came with two outs in the inning. He went 4 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on five hits and three walks in his Savannah debut. The Gnats closed to within 5-2 with a run in the fourth. DH Matt Oberste doubled, plating Jared King. Astudillo drove home the BlueClaws' final run in the sixth with a single off reliever Dawrin Frias. Box

Compiled from team reports

Minors 4.4.14: Noah wins Vegas debut

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
11:46
PM ET
LAS VEGAS 11, FRESNO 8: Noah Syndergaard allowed two runs on six hits and a walk while striking out five in six innings in his Triple-A debut. Syndergaard threw 76 pitches (51 strikes) en route to the victory. Bobby Abreu, pinch-hitting for Syndergaard, produced a three-run double as the 51s opened an 11-2 lead in the sixth. Fresno scored six runs over the final two innings, including four charged to Jeff Walters in the eighth. Zach Lutz, who had a grand slam a night earlier, this time went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs scored. Box

AKRON at BINGHAMTON (ppd.): The teams will play a doubleheader beginning at 12:05 p.m. Saturday.

PALM BEACH 6, ST. LUCIE 2: Steven Matz took the loss in his Florida State League debut.

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The lefty from Long Island scattered seven hits and two runs in five innings. He struck out five. Palm Beach starter Joe Cuda tossed four innings of one-run ball and struck out six. Reliever Thomas Lee was credited with the win after pitching 2 1/3 innings. The Cardinals never trailed in the game. They got on the board in the fourth on a triple from Starlin Rodriguez that plated Anthony Garcia. Two batters later, Steven Ramos singled home Rodriguez to make it 2-0. The Mets cut the lead in half in their half of the fourth when Dilson Herrera singled to plate Brandon Nimmo. But the Mets wouldn’t get any closer. The Cardinals scored four unanswered runs. Garcia doubled in the sixth and scored on a wild pitch by Julian Hilario. The Cardinals broke it open with three runs in the seventh. The big hit came on a two-run single by Jacob Wilson. The Mets were led offensively by T.J. Rivera. He followed Thursday’s five-RBI game with two more hits. Herrera also had a multi-hit game. Nimmo added a double. Box

SAVANNAH 10, LAKEWOOD 1: Savannah native John Gant earned the win in his first home start as a Gnat after limiting the BlueClaws to one run in six innings. Jared King ripped a pair of two-run triples and shortstop Gavin Cecchini blasted a three-run homer in the Gnats' five-run seventh to turn the game into a rout. Dominic Smith began that big frame with a single. Patrick Biondi also singled. Cecchini brought both runners home with a three-run shot. It was the 2012 first-round pick's second professional homer. The first long ball came on July 28, 2012 with Kingsport. The Gnats were not done. Jeff McNeil doubled for the second time in the game. Victor Cruzado walked and King tripled. King's first triple of the game had given the Gnats a 2-1 lead in what became a three-run fourth. That time, McNeil had doubled and Cruzado singled. King then launched a shot to right-center that Lakewood center fielder Carlos Tocci could not reel in after a long run. King scored on a sacrifice fly by L.J. Mazzilli. The BlueClaws' lone run came in the third inning, when Tocci scored on a wild pitch. Gant got stronger as the game went on. He allowed the leadoff man to reach base in each of the first three innings, but in none of his final three frames. He completed six innings, allowing one run on five hits and a walk while striking out seven. Box

Compiled from team reports

Seth Wenig/Associated PressDaniel Murphy commits the first of his two errors Thursday, after returning from paternity leave.
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: After the Washington Nationals completed a three-game sweep on Thursday at Citi Field, Terry Collins insisted his ballclub is better than it demonstrated in the opening series.

The Mets dropped to 0-3 for the fifth time in franchise history, matching the 1962, 1963, 1964 and 2005 editions.

“We’re a lot better team defensively, we’re a lot better team offensively than we’re seeing right now,” Collins said. “It’s three days. It certainly leaves a sour taste in your mouth when you start out the season like this. But I can tell you a few teams that ended up being pretty good that got off to slow starts.”

The Mets now try to regroup against the Cincinnati Reds, who lost two of three at home to the St. Louis Cardinals to open the season.

Jenrry Mejia, who was named to the rotation over Daisuke Matsuzaka, opposes Mike Leake (17-, 3.37 ERA in 2013) in Friday’s 7:10 p.m. series opener at Citi Field.

Friday’s news reports:

• Sources say Collins plans to give Lucas Duda a prolonged look at first base beginning Friday rather than juggle playing time between Duda, Ike Davis and Josh Satin. The Mets are due to face exclusively right-handers over the next two series, negating any thought of using the righty-hitting Satin anyway. “We’ve got to see one of these guys play,” Collins said, without acknowledging which player would get the extensive look. “Then, if he doesn’t get the job done, we’ll shift gears. But we’ve got to give him ample at-bats to have a better idea.” Read more in the Post, Newsday and at MLB.com.

Daniel Murphy committed two errors at second base and felt “sluggish” in the field in his return after missing the season’s first two games on paternity leave. Murphy said he was fully justified in spending time with his wife and newborn son Noah, despite talk-radio criticism of him missing games. Read more in the Post, Daily News and Newsday.


Adam RubinChris Young landed on the disabled list Thursday.


Chris Young landed on the disabled list before Thursday’s game with a right quadriceps strain. That temporarily spared Wilmer Flores a demotion to Las Vegas with Murphy being reactivated from paternity leave. Collins indicated Flores is likely to head to Triple-A on Sunday, when the Mets plan to activate Jonathon Niese from the disabled list to face the Cincinnati Reds. Read more in the Daily News and Record.

Bobby Parnell indicated it is “50-50” whether he ends up having Tommy John surgery to address a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in his right elbow. Regardless, Parnell expects a relatively quick resolution so that he can avoid compromising his 2015 availability if he ultimately needs to undergo the procedure. Read more in the Post and Newsday.

• The Mets lost Thursday’s series finale, 8-2, to Washington. The Nats have won eight straight games against the Mets since last Sept. 1. Zack Wheeler expressed disappointment with allowing three runs in six innings. Of course, the bullpen allowed a one-run game to get out of hand. Overall, the underwhelming relief corps surrendered 12 runs (11 earned) in 9 1/3 innings in the three-game series. The Mets were outscored 22-4 after the first inning in the series.

“It was tough. We certainly didn’t pitch as well as we hoped to, but I thought the three starters (Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon and Wheeler) did a nice job, kept us in games,” Collins said. “We’ve got to come out of that bullpen and we’ve got to start throwing some strikes. When we’re successful, it’s because you make the other team swing the bat. Not that they can’t get a hit, but when you’re behind in the count, you’re going to get in trouble in this league.”

Collins added that the Mets lacking players -- Chris Young with the quadriceps injury and Murphy for the first two games for fatherhood duties -- has made things more challenging.

“We actually played very well toward the end of camp,” the manager said. “I think one of the things right now is we continue to be unable to put the team out in the field that we hoped to. … I can assure you we’re better than what we’ve seen the last three days.”

Writes columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News:

It has taken the Mets just one series into the season to be officially declared unwatchable.

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

• Read more on Wheeler in the Post.

• Columnist Anthony Rieber in Newsday suggests the Mets’ early season schedule does them no favors. Writes Rieber:

Strength of schedule often is an overlooked component in baseball and the Mets are facing a difficult opening stretch. For a team that needs a fast start, beginning with Washington-Cincinnati-at Atlanta is not helpful. That's two 2013 playoff teams and one that should have been.

The following four series aren't cakewalks, either: at Angels, at Diamondbacks, then home for the Braves and Cardinals. The Mets may be 10 games under .500 soon after Easter Sunday.

Juan Lagares hit for the “cycle” if you combine his first two games. It took him seven at-bats. That’s the quickest in the majors to start a season since Ian Kinsler took six at-bats with Texas in 2012, according to Matthew Oshinsky in the Journal. Since 1997, only Kinsler has done it quicker than Lagares.

• Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson presented Jeff Wilpon with an award before Thursday’s game recognizing the Mets’ contribution to Hurricane Sandy relief. Johnson also threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

David Wright (eighth) and Matt Harvey (15th) both checked in on the list of the most popular MLB jerseys sold since the World Series, as computed by sales on MLB’s web site.

• Rafael Montero tossed six scoreless innings and Kirk Nieuwenhuis homered while going 4-for-4 in Las Vegas’ season-opening 9-2 win against Fresno. Zach Lutz added a grand slam. Bronx native T.J. Rivera’s tiebreaking grand slam helped lift St. Lucie to a 6-5 win against Palm Beach. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Noah Syndergaard makes his Triple-A debut on Friday night. Paul DePodesta confirmed to Marc Carig in Newsday that all the Vegas starters, including Syndergaard, could skip occasional rotation turns during the Pacific Coast League season and instead pitch an inning out of the bullpen on those days to limit their season innings counts.

From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear returned to Citi Field Thursday afternoon to find the weather vastly improved from Opening Day but the Mets not getting any better. ... MetsMinors.net chats with Allan Dykstra.

BIRTHDAYS: Eric Valent, who hit for the cycle as a Met on July 29, 2004 at Montreal, turns 37. ... The late Gil Hodges and Jim Fregosi were born on this date.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Do you support Terry Collins’ decision to give Lucas Duda a prolonged look at first base to sink or swim?

Minors 4.3.14: Rivera slam lifts St. Lucie

April, 3, 2014
Apr 3
11:23
PM ET
LAS VEGAS 9, FRESNO 2: Rafael Montero tossed six scoreless innings in his season debut. He allowed four hits and no walks while striking out five in a 79-pitch effort. Eric Campbell opened the scoring with a two-run single in the fifth. Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a solo homer an inning later. Nieuwenhuis finished 4-for-4. Bobby Abreu joined the 51s on Thursday and delivered a pinch-hit single in the seventh. He is expected to DH against AL affiliates and pinch-hit against NL affiliates like Fresno, the Giants' top farm club. Joel Carreño surrendered a two-run homer to Adam Duvall in the seventh as Fresno pulled within 3-2. Zach Lutz had a grand slam a half-inning later to open a six-run lead. Vic Black, who allowed 24 baserunners in 9 1/3 Grapefruit League innings, continued to struggle with his control. Working with a large lead in the eighth, Black walked two batters and hit another. Erik Goeddel, moving to a bullpen role like he had at UCLA, tossed a scoreless ninth. Noah Syndergaard makes his Triple-A debut Friday for the 51s. Box

AKRON 7, BINGHAMTON 1: Five Binghamton pitchers combined to issue 11 walks while the B-Mets mustered four hits. Akron's Giovanny Urshela had four RBIs. Starter Darin Gorski missed the strike zone on his first six pitches and walked three in the first. The

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RubberDucks failed to cash in that frame, but broke through in the second on two bloop singles and Gorski’s fielding error on Tyler Holt’s sacrifice bunt. The unearned run was the first of seven unanswered runs by the RubberDucks following Binghamton’s first-inning run. Darrell Ceciliani had led off the bottom of the first against Cody Anderson by tripling over center fielder Tyler Naquin’s head. Brian Burgamy's groundout scored Ceciliani. Urshela broke the 1-all tie with a homer to lead off the fourth. Gorski departed two batters later after reaching 85 pitches. Cody Satterwhite made his B-Mets debut in relief and collected the final out of the frame, but not before issuing back-to-back walks. Satterwhite worked around two more walks in the fifth before handing off to T.J. Chism. The southpaw worked a scoreless sixth in his Double-A debut, but surrendered a game-sealing two-out, two-run double to Urshela in the seventh. Anderson settled in after the first inning. The right-hander cruised through five more innings, never facing more than four batters in any frame. Jack Leathersich provided a bright spot for the B-Mets by striking out three in the eighth. Akron produced three ninth-inning runs against John Church. Gorski (0-1) was tagged for two runs (one earned) on three walks and four hits in 3 2/3 innings. Box

ST. LUCIE 6, PALM BEACH 5: T.J. Rivera broke a 2-all tie in the fifth with a grand slam that put the Mets ahead for good. The Cardinals answered with three runs in the sixth, but

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Randy Fontanez contributed a scoreless seventh and eighth while Beck Wheeler closed out the game in the ninth. Gabriel Ynoa earned the win in his Florida State League debut. He scattered eight hits and allowed three runs (two earned) in 5 1/3 innings. Palm Beach jumped to a 2-0 lead on Jacob Wilson's sac fly in the first and an RBI single by Starlin Rodriguez in the third. Palm Beach starter Michael Mayers was cruising until Brandon Nimmo and Rivera greeted him with back-to-back doubles in the fourth to make it 2-1. Jairo Perez tied the score with a two-out single later in the frame. In the fifth, Mayers walked Maikis De La Cruz, gave up a single to Eudy Pina and walked Nimmo to load the bases. Corey Baker entered in relief and surrendered the grand slam to Rivera. The Cardinals rallied with three runs in the sixth. They had a chance to tie it in the ninth, but a leaping catch at the wall by De La Cruz in left robbed Anthony Garcia of a run-scoring extra-base hit. Wheeler later struck out Casey Rasmus to end the game. Rivera finished 3-for-4 with five RBIs. Nimmo collected two hits, a walk and two runs scored in his FSL debut. Box

LAKEWOOD 6, SAVANNAH 3: Patrick Biondi delivered a three-run homer for his first professional long ball in the bottom of the ninth to account for the Gnats' lone scoring. The former Michigan Wolverine finished 3-for-4 in his Sand Gnats debut. The BlueClaws plated the game’s opening run in the fourth inning against Savannah starter Robert Gsellman as Andrew Pullin doubled and scored on Larry Greene Jr.’s infield single. Greene finished 3-for-4 with a triple, a run scored and four RBIs. He tripled down the right-field line to drive in three runs and cap a four-run eighth that put Lakewood ahead 6-0. Lakewood chased Gsellman in the sixth. Two singles and a walk plated a run to put the BlueClaws up 2-0. Then Greene singled to center to load the bases, ending Gsellman’s night. Reliever Tim Peterson entered with one out and escaped further trouble by striking out two batters. Peterson worked a scoreless seventh. 2012 first-round pick Gavin Cecchini, making his Savannah debut, went 2-for-5. 2013 first-round pick Dominic Smith was 1-for-4. Biondi’s homer was the only Sand Gnats’ extra-base hit. The Gnats had chances to score early in the game, but left three runners at third in the game’s first four innings. Box

Compiled from team reports

Morning Briefing: It's Wheeler vs. Strasburg

March, 25, 2014
Mar 25
6:28
AM ET

Getty ImagesZack Wheeler and Stephen Strasburg face off on Tuesday in Grapefruit League action ... not on Opening Day.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.

FIRST PITCH: Mets fans will not get Stephen Strasburg versus Zack Wheeler on Opening Day, but they will get the matchup six days earlier in Viera, Fla.

Strasburg, Washington’s Opening Day starter at Citi Field, is scheduled to oppose Wheeler at 1:05 p.m. Tuesday at Space Coast Stadium. The game is not on television or radio in New York, but will be on the Nats’ MASN network.

Tuesday’s news reports:

Daisuke Matsuzaka is expected to get word Tuesday that he has made the Opening Day roster. Noon is the deadline for the Mets to inform him he has made the club. Otherwise, the Mets would have to release him, or give him $100,000 for the right to send him to the minors. Matsuzaka appeared to seal the deal by blanking the St. Louis Cardinals through six innings Monday. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Times, Star-Ledger, Newsday and MLB.com.

• The Mets made it official Monday, naming Dillon Gee the 23rd different Opening Day starter in franchise history. He will oppose Strasburg. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday, Journal and MLB.com.

Matt Harvey will mostly get his wish. The ace primarily will rehab in New York this season, a source confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com.

Writes columnist David Lennon in Newsday on the topic:

Just a reminder for those who tuned in late: Harvey is the guy who had Tommy John surgery last October and is not likely to throw a pitch for the Mets this season. Where Harvey will do his stretching exercises and long toss -- either New York or Port St. Lucie -- apparently has become a thing.

My take? This is nuts.

To paraphrase Allen Iverson, another franchise player from another psycho sports town: We’re talking about rehab, man. We’re not even talking about the game. We’re talking about rehab.

Columnist John Harper in the Daily News suggests the Mets, not Harvey, need the attitude adjustment. Writes Harper:

It’s just that Harvey clearly isn’t going to bow to authority or conventional behavior just to please people. For a team like the Mets that has accepted losing much too easily, Harvey provides a harder edge to their collective personality.

That’s not a knock on David Wright. He’s a team-first star who cares about all the right things, on the field and in the clubhouse, and every team needs that behavior as well.

Harvey just adds an I’m-good-and-know-it presence that can help change a losing culture, even if he doesn’t pitch at all this season.

Read more in the Post, Daily News, and Star-Ledger.

Jonathon Niese threw off a mound Monday for the first time since receiving a cortisone shot in his left elbow one week earlier. He pronounced the bullpen session a success. The southpaw aims to be activated from the disabled list for an April 6 start against the Cincinnati Reds. His next step is a minor-league game Thursday. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger and Record.

Wilmer Flores was arguably the highest-profile demotion Monday. Also sent to minor-league camp: Matt den Dekker, Zach Lutz and Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Thirty-three players, including the rehabbing Harvey and Jeremy Hefner as well as the DL-bound Niese, remain in big-league camp. Flores will play shortstop and second base at Triple-A Las Vegas, which will give the Mets an internal option to unseat Ruben Tejada in-season if the incumbent shortstop flops in April. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger and MLB.com.

• The Mets’ official account made an unfortunate tweet after Matsuzaka struck out the side in the first inning Monday, writing: “Dice-KKK off to a quick start. He strikes out the side in the 1st inning. #NYMvsSTL”

The tweet subsequently was deleted, with an apology. Read more in the Post and Daily News.

• The Mets have created the position of assistant hitting coach. Luis Natera, who has long served as Double-A Binghamton’s hitting coach, was named to the new role as Dave Hudgens’ deputy. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

Kyle Farnsworth, who was released by the Mets on Sunday, is expected to re-sign on a minor-league deal Tuesday. The maneuver will save the Mets a $100,000 retention bonus. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Record.


Adam RubinThe moving truck carrying Mets equipment back to Citi Field was fully loaded and departed Monday at noon.


• The Pittsburgh Pirates will honor the late Ralph Kiner with a No. 4 patch on their jerseys this season. The Mets previously announced their intention to wear a patch as a tribute to their longtime broadcaster.

• The Mets beat the Cardinals, 5-3, Monday behind a three-run third inning against Shelby Miller that included a two-run double by Daniel Murphy. Vic Black flopped again, perhaps imperiling his seemingly locked up roster spot. He now has allowed 22 baserunners in eight Grapefruit League innings. John Lannan shined in a relief role for the second straight day. Lannan is a perfect 6-for-6 in retiring batters in a two-day span out of the bullpen.

• Read more on Lannan’s relief transition in the Journal.

Chris Schwinden and eight other players were released from minor-league camp.

Curtis Granderson taught baseball to Port St. Lucie-area YMCA children after playing in Monday’s Grapefruit League game. See photo here.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear tries to reconcile Ike Davis’ continued Mets presence with the expectation he was considered on his way out during the offseason. … NY Mets Life hopes Sandy's plan is worth the wait.

BIRTHDAYS: Soon-to-be Hall of Fame inductee Tom Glavine turns 48. ... Lee Mazzilli, whose son L.J. is now a Mets farmhand, is 59.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should Vic Black, Gonzalez Germen, Jenrry Mejia or Daisuke Matsuzaka receive a bullpen spot if there is only room for one in that role?

Wilmer demoted, will continue at shortstop

March, 24, 2014
Mar 24
8:00
AM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Wilmer Flores shortstop experiment will continue. Only it will continue at Triple-A Las Vegas.

Flores joined Matt den Dekker, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Zach Lutz in being sent to minor-league camp Monday morning. That leaves the Mets with 33 in camp, including rehabbing Matt Harvey and Jeremy Hefner and DL-bound Jonathon Niese.

"I feel good," Flores said after receiving the news. "I did a great job. I'll just wait for the opportunity to come again."

Flores, 22, made four exhibition starts at shortstop, and largely handled the routine plays. There is widespread skepticism he can reemerge as a shortstop, a position at which the Mets abandoned using him after the 2011 season.

Still, as a hedge against Ruben Tejada struggling at the major-league level, the Mets will use Flores at shortstop and second base with Las Vegas, to continue to gauge his worthiness. If Tejada flops in April and Flores is passable at shortstop, the Mets will consider promoting Flores for the starting role.


Adam RubinWilmer Flores was demoted to minor-league camp Monday morning.


Of course, this is barring a trade that brings in Seattle's Nick Franklin or Arizona's Didi Gregorius or another shortstop, which would push Tejada to the backup role.

Remaining in camp to back up Tejada are Omar Quintanilla and Anthony Seratelli. Quintanilla is projected to make the Opening Day roster.

Flores batted .238 with two homers and nine RBIs in 42 Grapefruit League at-bats.

"I think I did a pretty good job, a pretty decent job at short," Flores said. "I feel great. I'll go to Vegas and play some more short. I don't know how much, but I know I'm going to play short."

On his hitting, Flores said he was largely pleased, although "maybe there were some at-bats that I didn't choose the right pitches."

He arrived in camp after spending two four-week stints at a Plymouth, Mich., nutrition and fitness camp, which did result in a trimmer body.

If you subtract Harvey, Hefner and Niese, there are five extra players remaining in camp. Those are the Daisuke Matsuzaka-Jenrry Mejia non-winner (likely Mejia going to Triple-A), the Quintanilla-Seratelli non-winner (likely Seratelli going to Triple-A), extra catcher Taylor Teagarden, extra reliever Gonzalez Germen and corner infielder Eric Campbell. Campbell has impressed in camp and is being rewarded, but the extra bench spot created by Niese's DL stint should go to Andrew Brown.

Campbell is not on the 40-man roster. The Mets already likely need to create spots for Matsuzaka, Jose Valverde, John Lannan and Quintanilla.

The Mets' 40-man roster is currently at 38, and will drop to 37 when Harvey is shifted to the 60-day DL. So the Mets likely will need to free one spot, with scouts speculating reliever Ryan Reid may be the casualty.

Morning Briefing: MRI Day for Niese

March, 17, 2014
Mar 17
6:29
AM ET

USA TODAY SportsIf Jon Niese misses any significant time, two of three from Jenrry Mejia, Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan should be in the Opening Day rotation.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.

FIRST PITCH: Jonathon Niese is scheduled to have an MRI and be examined by team doctor David Altchek on Monday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.

Niese departed Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals after two innings and 35 pitches with elbow discomfort. The southpaw did not believe the injury was severe, but clearly he now is unlikely to make the Opening Day start on March 31 against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field.

Terry Collins previously had indicated Bartolo Colon is the probable Opening Day starter if Niese is not available, with Dillon Gee the other consideration.

If Niese’s elbow issue is not severe, the Mets still can place him on the disabled list to open the season and backdate it nine days into spring training.

That means Niese would be eligible to return April 6 against the Cincinnati Reds, which happens to be the first day the Mets would need a fifth starter. That also would allow the Mets to carry an extra bench player (Andrew Brown or Wilmer Flores, perhaps?) or an extra bullpen arm for the first five games of the season.

Daisuke Matsuzaka was the probable fifth starter before Niese’s injury anyway.

If Niese is lost beyond April 6 and the Mets need another starter, the team would need to debate John Lannan and Jenrry Mejia’s candidacies as the fill-in. Lannan otherwise should make the team in relief.

Mets officials previously have told ESPNNewYork.com that they do not want to continue to shift Mejia between starting and relieving. If Mejia is not in the rotation to start the year, team brass will have a serious discussion late in spring training about Mejia’s future role -- and then stick with it.

Rafael Montero is not an Opening Day rotation consideration, but will get consideration for a relief role, according to Collins. Still, unless Lannan ends up in the rotation, it is difficult to see where Montero might fit in the pen to start the season. The projected bullpen pre-Niese injury has included Bobby Parnell, Vic Black, Jose Valverde, Carlos Torres, Jeurys Familia, Scott Rice and Lannan.

Meanwhile, the Mets who traveled to Las Vegas were due to land in the early morning hours on Monday. Most of those players likely will be excused from an afternoon game against the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter. Lannan opposes Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez at 1:05 p.m. (WOR 710 AM).

Monday’s news reports:

• Cory Vaughn homered against Adam Wainwright and finished with four RBIs as the Mets beat the Cards, 10-4, despite losing Niese to injury after 35 pitches. Ruben Tejada committed his fourth Grapefruit League error and was hitless in four at-bats, dropping his average to .091 (2-for-22). Read more on Tejada and the game against the Cards in the Post and MLB.com.

• Mejia and Montero allowed a combined five runs (four earned) in five innings as the Mets lost to the Chicago Cubs, 6-3, in Vegas. Juan Lagares made a dazzling catch and also threw out a runner at the plate. Flores started his second spring-training game at shortstop, with Collins pledging more action there. Brown belted a two-run homer and Zach Lutz contributed his third spring-training homer. Read more on Mejia and the Vegas game in the Post, Star-Ledger, Newsday and MLB.com.

• Read more on Niese’s injury in the Post, Daily News, Times, Star-Ledger, Record, Journal, Newsday and MLB.com.


Getty ImagesThe D-backs have a pair of shortstops: Chris Owings and Didi Gregorius.


Ike Davis (calf) went 2-for-6 as a DH but did not run the bases after making contact during a minor-league game Sunday. He did run postgame. Lucas Duda (hamstring) had Sunday off. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News suggests it might make sense to trade some of the Mets’ young pitching for offense while they’re still prospects and before they get hurt. Of course, Niese’s injury potentially means the Mets have less room to deal because they need the pitching depth. Still, Harper notes, the Arizona Diamondbacks have two shortstops, Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings, and now may need a starting pitcher with Patrick Corbin apparently headed for Tommy John surgery.

• Matt Ehalt in the Record speaks with Matt den Dekker about his solid camp. He is hitting .379 (11-for-29) in Grapefruit League play.

• Jared Diamond in the Journal notes Las Vegas is a tough place for prospects to pitch. As for whether the 51s will remain the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate beyond this season, when the current player-development agreement will have expired, Las Vegas president Don Logan told Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger: "I think the geography is going to come into play. If there is a team on the East Coast available it just makes more sense maybe for them. But if you’re going to be in the West, this is the best place to be, because we have tons of air access to everywhere in the country."

• How did the Mets celebrate Curtis Granderson’s 33rd birthday on Friday night in Vegas? Anthony DiComo at MLB.com writes:

After a dinner at Andiamo Steakhouse, the Mets gathered around a Sigma Derby machine on the casino floor, where players could wager quarters on fake horses.

"Guys were upset they lost six dollars," Granderson recalled, laughing.

It was a way for the Mets to blow off some steam, enjoying their two-day trip to Vegas for a pair of exhibition games against the Cubs. While some members of the traveling party stuck to relaxing -- David Wright spent much of his free time watching college basketball on television -- many others dabbled in what Vegas had to offer.

BIRTHDAYS: Lagares turns 25. ... Former Mets catcher Vance Wilson is 41.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Which two pitchers should fill the Jon Niese and fifth starter’s roles assuming Niese misses a portion of the beginning of the season?

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
David Wright
BA HR RBI R
.316 1 11 9
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 3
RBID. Wright 11
RE. Young Jr. 15
OPSL. Duda .817
WC. Torres 2
ERAJ. Niese 2.84
SOZ. Wheeler 21

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