New York Mets: Zack Greinke

Series preview: Mets at Dodgers

August, 21, 2014

Getty ImagesThe Mets face Dan Haren, Zack Greinke and Kevin Correia this weekend at Dodger Stadium.
METS (60-68, fourth place/NL East) vs. LOS ANGELES DODGERS (71-57*, first place/NL West)

Friday: LHP Jonathon Niese (7-8, 3.50) vs. RHP Dan Haren (10-10, 4.59), 10:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Jacob deGrom (6-5, 2.87) vs. RHP Zack Greinke (12-8, 2.75), 9:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Bartolo Colon (11-10, 3.85) vs. RHP Kevin Correia (2-0, 4.09), 4:10 p.m. ET

* L.A. plays Thursday vs. Padres

Dodgers short hops

Zack Greinke, originally scheduled to start Thursday against the San Diego Padres, instead faces the Mets on Saturday with two extra days of rest. Greinke’s elbow has been cranky. He does not expect to be 100 percent for the remainder of the season. If Greinke gets through the season without the issue worsening and Hyun-Jin Ryu (right hip strain) returns from the DL without ill effects, L.A. is well-positioned for the postseason with a rotation that also includes Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw originally was due to face the Mets on Friday, but moved up a day in place of Greinke.

• Left fielder Carl Crawford is hitting .485 (16-for-33) with one homer and six RBIs in 10 games (eight starts) since Aug. 10. Crawford’s surge has buried Andre Ethier on the bench. Ethier has started four games since July 22.

Richard MacksonYasiel Puig moved to center field in late July.

Yasiel Puig shifted from right field to center field in late July. Matt Kemp began the season in center field, but the Dodgers were underwhelmed by his defense. Ethier and Scott Van Slyke subsequently lacked range there.

• Ex-Met Justin Turner (.309, 3 HR, 27 RBIs) has started four straight games at third base with Juan Uribe sidelined after reinjuring his right hamstring. Turner is hitting .341 (15-for-44) with four RBIs in 16 games (11 starts) in August. For the season, Turner has a 2.7 WAR. Only Puig’s 4.1 WAR is better among Dodgers position players.

• Free-agent-to-be Hanley Ramirez landed on the disabled list Aug. 9 with a right oblique strain. Miguel Rojas originally filled in for Ramirez at shortstop, but is 2-for-his-last-17. Cuban-born rookie Erisbel Arruebarrena, who is projected to succeed Ramirez next season, has started the past two games at shortstop.

Arruebarrena recently served a five-game suspension while with Triple-A Albuquerque for inciting a massive bench-clearing brawl against Reno, the top affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He had a slow trot around the bases after a homer, then jawed with Reno’s catcher the following day.

Arruebarrena signed with the Dodgers in February for five years, $25 million.

• Leadoff hitter/second baseman Dee Gordon is hitless in his last 12 at-bats. He nonetheless has an NL-leading 57 steals, 11 ahead of runner-up Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds. The steal total ranks seventh for a single season in Dodgers history, trailing Maury Wills (104 in 1962 and 94 in 1965), Davey Lopes (77 in 1975, 63 in 1976 and 59 in 1974) and Juan Pierre (64 in 2007).

• First baseman Adrian Gonzalez's 83 RBIs rank second in the NL, trailing only Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton (89).

• The Dodgers lead the San Francisco Giants (66-58) by three games for the NL West lead.

Morning Briefing: L.A. luck; Sandy speaks

August, 21, 2014

FIRST PITCH: The Mets take a day off in California on Thursday, then get to work against the Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend.

The Amazin’s get a reprieve of sorts, too.

Clayton Kershaw, originally due to start Friday’s series opener against the Mets, instead faces the San Diego Padres on normal rest on Thursday. So the Mets draw Dan Haren in the series opener, followed now by Zack Greinke on Saturday and Kevin Correia on Sunday.

Beck Diefenbach/Associated PressThe Mets get a reprieve in L.A. with Clayton Kershaw moved out of the series.

The L.A. shakeup allows Greinke two extra days of rest for a cranky right elbow that will not be 100 percent the remainder of the season.

Meanwhile, the Mets will activate a pair of starting pitchers for the series.

After Jonathon Niese starts the series opener, Jacob deGrom is due to be activated from the disabled list to pitch Saturday at Dodger Stadium. Bartolo Colon will be activated from bereavement leave for Sunday’s series finale. Colon then plans to return to the Dominican Republic for the funeral of his mother, who died Monday at age 63 after battling breast cancer.

The Mets ultimately will need to make as many as three roster moves -- for deGrom, Colon and, presumably, for Daisuke Matsuzaka early next homestand.

Matsuzaka, currently on the DL with right elbow inflammation, is due to make his third minor-league rehab start Thursday. He pitches for the Brooklyn Cyclones at 7 p.m. against the Staten Island Yankees at Coney Island.

The Mets have a number of potential maneuvers to clear as many as three spots. Gonzalez Germen, promoted when Colon went on bereavement leave, could return to Las Vegas. So could Rafael Montero, who otherwise would be working out of the bullpen with deGrom reentering the rotation. Perhaps the Mets also could find a DL candidate among some banged-up players.

Jenrry Mejia, who has a hernia and cranky calf, was unavailable Wednesday in Oakland because of tightness in his lower back on the right side, which is a recurring issue. Dana Eveland required a cortisone shot in his left elbow. And Kirk Nieuwenhuis was scratched from Wednesday’s lineup with neck discomfort.

Thursday’s news reports:

• Sandy Alderson joined Seth Everett on WOR, reminiscing about his days in Oakland and also commenting about the state of the Mets. (Listen here.)

On the team’s offensive funk (Wednesday notwithstanding), the GM said: “It’s been pretty much across the board, starting with the top of our lineup all the way through. When you only get three or four hits a night, there’s a collective issue. We’ve got some young players in the lineup who we’ve got to give some time, but I think it’s been a collective thing. I do believe that offensively we will get better. The question is how much better.”

Addressing David Wright's subpar production, Alderson added: “First of all, no player is ever going to be at the top of his game consistently throughout a season, or over ‘X’ number of seasons. And part of dealing with the adversity is how it’s handled. David handles it very well. We certainly recognize this is a collective thing.”

On the evaluation process for Matt den Dekker and Wilmer Flores, Alderson said: “The one thing that we have to do is be patient and not reach those judgments prematurely.”

And on how Terry Collins will be judged, Alderson said: “It’s more than wins and losses. It’s how the team approaches each game and how it conducts itself over the course of an entire season. All those things are important.”

Eric Campbell and Lucas Duda homered in a five-run second inning against Jeff Samardzija and the Mets survived a pair of errors by Daniel Murphy en route to an 8-5 win against Oakland on Wednesday.

Zack Wheeler (9-8) allowed four runs (two earned). He was pulled after 5 2/3 innings and 103 pitches as the Mets kept him on a tight pitch limit after he threw 120 his previous outing. Wheeler improved to 6-0 with a 2.12 ERA in his past 10 starts and climbed above .500 for the first time this season.

With Mejia unavailable, Jeurys Familia produced a five-out save. Familia inherited the bases loaded in the eighth from Vic Black and walked in a run, but otherwise kept the A’s in check.

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

• Read more on Colon’s temporary return for Sunday’s start in the Daily News and Newsday.

• Read more on Eveland’s “tennis elbow” and cortisone injection in the Star-Ledger.

• Matt Bowman allowed one run in seven innings but suffered a hard-luck loss as New Orleans beat Las Vegas, 4-0. Behind three RBIs from Dustin Lawley, Binghamton trimmed its magic number to clinch an Eastern League playoff berth to one with an 8-5 win at Erie. Read the full minor-league recap here.

BIRTHDAYS: Felix Millan turns 71 today. ... John Stearns is 63.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: How should the Mets clear spots for deGrom, Colon and Matsuzaka?

Morning Briefing: West doormats arrive

May, 23, 2014

FIRST PITCH: The Mets swept the Arizona Diamondbacks April 14-16 in Phoenix.

Now, they look to continue their success against the National League West cellar dwellers this weekend at Citi Field.

Arizona arrives in Queens with an 18-31 record and on a three-game losing streak after getting swept in St. Louis. The D-backs already have endured six losing streaks of at least three games this season, ESPN Stats & Information notes.

Bartolo Colon (3-5, 5.34 ERA) opposes rookie right-hander Chase Anderson (2-0, 5.06) in Friday’s 7:10 p.m. series opener.

Friday’s news reports:

Juan Lagares delivered a tiebreaking RBI single in the seventh and the Mets salvaged the finale of their series with the Los Angeles Dodgers with a 5-3 win Thursday at Citi Field. Albeit benefiting from a pair of unearned runs, the Mets snapped Zack Greinke’s streak of allowing two or fewer runs in 21 straight starts -- the longest such streak in MLB history. Jenrry Mejia pitched for a second straight day for the first time since 2010 to earn his second save.

Adam Hunger/USA TODAY SportsYasiel Puig had the catch of the day, racing into right-center and diving to rob Wilmer Flores.

Eric Campbell, starting in the majors for the first time in left field, contributed a sacrifice fly and also made a dazzling eighth-inning catch to initiate a double play.

Jonathon Niese had surrendered a game-tying two-run homer to ex-Met Justin Turner in the top of the seventh. Pitching coach Dan Warthen had noticed Niese elevating his pitches that inning and had planned to go to the mound if Turner had reached base.

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

Curtis Granderson doesn’t understand why fans boo. “I’ve always wanted to know why someone would boo, because in the next second they’ll cheer,” Granderson told Jim Baumbach in Newsday. “So which one is it? You like your team or dislike your team? You call yourself a fan and then you’ll boo? …

“I understand you’re a fan, but at the same time, you aren’t playing. I can see you getting that intense as a player or [if you] have played. But if you’re just a fan and watching, enjoy the excitement of the game that is in front of you win, lose or draw, whatever the case is.”

• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News says play the kids. Writes Harper:

It makes sense, since this team can’t be considered a contender, even at a time when parity throughout MLB has lowered the bar for such status.

Of course, it also speaks to a failure by the Mets’ brass to do more in the offseason, specifically in terms of upgrading the offense, which is why the season is careening in the wrong direction.

• Jared Diamond in the Journal notes two members of the bullpen, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Mejia, view themselves as starters in exile. “Looking in from the outside, it may seem that I have become more comfortable,” Matsuzaka told Diamond through an interpreter. “But, for me, it’s still a daily struggle.”

• Read more on Mejia in the Star-Ledger and Daily News.

Travis d’Arnaud has been cleared for baseball activities as he rebounds from a concussion. Terry Collins expects d’Arnaud to have a rehab assignment before being activated from the concussion DL. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Journal, Record, Newsday and at

• Collins has resolved to use Campbell in the middle infield, at least on occasion.

• Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has no problems with the dimensions of Citi Field.

Dillon Gee (lat) will need to pitch in a rehab game as soon as Sunday to ensure he only misses three turns in the rotation.

• Jesse Spector in the Sporting News ranks Sandy Alderson the 23rd-best GM in baseball.

• Howard Megdal at Capital New York suggests Mets brass did not like a tweet read on-air on WOR regarding team ownership.

• TV critic Bob Raissman in the Daily News wonders which SNY analyst will lose it on-air watching the Mets.

• Alex Panteliodis earned the win in his season debut and left-handed reliever Chase Huchingson returned from a 50-game suspension in St. Lucie’s 6-4 win against Clearwater. Savannah’s Miller Diaz, Akeel Morris and Tyler Vanderheiden combined to shut out Lexington, 4-0. Read the full minor-league recap here.

David Wright met with a 12-year-old afflicted with a rare skin disorder before Thursday’s game, Eli Rosenberg writes in the Daily News.

From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear can't help but notice Yasiel Puig.

BIRTHDAYS: Vic Black, who has a 1.45 ERA and seven saves in eight chances with Las Vegas, turns 26. Black has allowed 12 hits and 17 walks (one intentional) in 18 2/3 innings.

TWEETS OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Will the Mets beat up on the Diamondbacks this weekend?

Greinke compliments Mets' approach

May, 22, 2014
NEW YORK -- Zack Greinke tipped his cap to the Mets on the day his streak of allowing two runs or fewer ended at 21 straight starts.

While two of the three runs charged to Greinke were unearned, the Mets also successfully drove up the ace's pitch count. He required 52 pitches to navigate the opening two innings and ultimately departed trailing 3-1 with his pitch count at 101 after five innings.

"That was the best any team’s taken my quality sliders and quality changeups all year,” Greinke said after the Dodgers' 5-3 loss to the Mets in which he received a no-decision.

Said Terry Collins: “We know Zack wasn’t real sharp tonight, the way that we’ve seen him. But I thought our guys did a great job of working the counts and getting some balls. We hit some balls pretty good and hit them at some people.”

Rapid Reaction: Mets 5, Dodgers 3

May, 22, 2014
NEW YORK -- Zack Greinke had a lengthy streak snapped. Ex-Met Justin Turner got some revenge. Jenrry Mejia cleared a hurdle toward closing full time. And, in the game's decisive at-bat, Juan Lagares continued to establish he belongs in the starting lineup.

Lagares delivered a two-out, go-ahead RBI single in the seventh against Chris Perez and the Mets ultimately avoided getting swept with a 5-3 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday at Citi Field.

The Mets won for only the sixth time in 20 games in May.

Back-to-back: For the first time in four years, Mejia pitched on consecutive days. In a major step toward becoming the full-time closer, Mejia logged a scoreless ninth inning for his second save since moving to the bullpen. The work came a day after Mejia tossed eight pitches in a 1-2-3 ninth on Wednesday. Mejia last pitched on consecutive days at any level June 5-6, 2010, during his first tour of bullpen duty with the Mets.

Retribution: Turner’s ho-hum return to Citi Field ended with a bang. Turner blasted a two-run homer against Jonathon Niese (7 IP, 4 H, 3 ER) in the seventh to even the score at 3. It was Turner’s first long ball since last Sept. 8 at Cleveland, during a series in which he produced his only two homers of 2013. Turner was a surprise non-tender by the Mets on Dec. 2.

Ron Antonelli/Getty ImagesThe Mets ended Zack Greinke's streak allowing two runs or fewer at 21 starts, although two of their three runs against him were unearned.

Halted: Greinke’s major-league record streak of 21 straight starts allowing two runs or fewer came to an end. His fielders, including an ex-Met, helped torpedo it.

Greinke was poised to escape the fifth inning trailing 2-1 when he coaxed a two-out grounder to the left side of the infield from Daniel Murphy. However, after ranging to his left, Turner -- starting at third base with Juan Uribe having landed on the DL -- muffed fielding the ball, allowing Niese to score the Mets’ third run.

Niese earlier in the inning became the lone Mets pitcher other than Jacob deGrom to produce a hit this season. He delivered an RBI double that plated Anthony Recker for the lone earned run surrendered by Greinke. (Mets pitchers are now 3-for-76 on the season.)

The Mets had produced an unearned run in the second inning after Matt Kemp was slow getting to Curtis Granderson’s shot to deep center. Kemp did not cleanly pick up the baseball, so the play was scored a double and E-8. Granderson scored on Eric Campbell’s sac fly.

Greinke’s final line: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K. He threw 101 pitches (63 strikes).

Greinke nonetheless has now allowed two EARNED runs or fewer in 22 straight starts, passing Roger Clemens (1990-91) for the longest streak in the majors since earned runs became a stat in 1913.

Web gem: Yasiel Puig turned in a highlight-reel catch, even by Lagares standard. On Wilmer Flores’ second-inning shot to right-center, Puig covered an awesome amount of ground and made a diving catch that even the pro-Mets crowd at Citi Field recognized with applause.

Puig had a complicated game.

Puig was tagged out between second and third base for a double play in the sixth when Hanley Ramirez hit a popup that was ruled an infield fly. Murphy had lost the ball and it dropped to the ground.

Two innings later, after producing a one-out double, Puig was doubled off second base. Campbell made a diving catch in his first major-league game in left field. Puig broke for third, not recognizing the catch, and was doubled up at second.

What’s next: The Arizona Diamondbacks visit Citi Field for a weekend series. Bartolo Colon (3-5, 5.34 ERA) opposes rookie right-hander Chase Anderson (2-0, 5.06) in Friday’s 7:10 p.m. series opener.

Morning Briefing: Greinke on tap for L.A.

May, 22, 2014

Lenny Ignelzi/Associated PressZack Greinke can pitch the Dodgers to a sweep of the Mets on Thursday.

FIRST PITCH: The Mets face a tall order Thursday in trying to avoid getting swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field.

Zack Greinke (7-1, 2.03 ERA) pitches for the Dodgers in the 7:10 series finale. He opposes Jonathon Niese (2-3, 2.54).

Greinke is tied with Adam Wainwright for the National League lead in wins and ranks second in ERA, trailing only the Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija (1.46).

Greinke has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 21 straight starts. That matches Roger Clemens (1990-91) for the longest streak in the majors since earned runs became an official stat in 1913, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Thursday’s news reports:

Jacob deGrom surrendered solo homers to Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez and the Mets failed to turn a routine double play in the eighth as a costly run scored as the Dodgers won, 4-3, Wednesday night at Citi Field. Eric Campbell produced his first major-league homer, a two-run shot in the sixth against Hyun-Jin Ryu that had pulled the Mets within 3-2.

Curtis Granderson struck out with the bases loaded to end the third and Chris Young stranded two in scoring position in the seventh as the Mets lost despite outhitting the Dodgers, 13-5. The Mets (20-25) are now a season-worst five games under .500.

As for the botched eighth-inning double play, both Wilmer Flores and Daniel Murphy converged at second base, causing Jeurys Familia to hesitate before releasing the baseball. That ultimately allowed Ramirez to beat the throw to first as L.A.’s fourth run scored.

DeGrom, incidentally, now has both hits by Mets pitchers this season. In franchise history, deGrom joins Dillon Gee (2010) and Walt Terrell (1982) as the pitchers who produced hits in their first two games with the club.

Juan Lagares, who missed Tuesday’s game while in the Dominican Republic mourning the death of the aunt who raised him, went 3-for-5 in his return. In addition to the defensive miscue in the eighth, Flores went 3-for-4.

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

Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesEric Campbell, who produced his first major-league homer Wednesday, could find himself contributing in the outfield.

• Campbell, who has seen action in the minors in the corner outfield spots, may find himself playing there with the Mets soon as Terry Collins looks for ways to get more offense. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.

Travis d’Arnaud passed some initial concussion tests Wednesday and is due to see a doctor Thursday, aiming for clearance to be activated from the concussion DL. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Newsday and at

• Tim Rohan in the Times writes an in-depth feature on deGrom, which covers the length of his hair, how he transitioned to pitching from shortstop in college at Stetson and Johan Santana’s influence in teaching him a changeup while they both rehabbed in Port St. Lucie in 2011 (deGrom from Tommy John surgery). Writes Rohan:

Santana proceeded to teach deGrom his famous changeup, how to grip the ball, how it should look the same as a fastball coming out of his hand. Santana told him to practice throwing at 180 feet. If he threw it correctly, the ball would fall well short.

When his arm was healthy enough, deGrom practiced until he felt he had the pitch down. Armed with a new weapon, he posted a 2.43 earned run average in 2012 in 19 starts in Class A Savannah and St. Lucie. He learned the nuances of pitching -- and he began growing his hair long again.

Also read a feature on deGrom in the Star-Ledger.

• Noah Syndergaard allowed three runs -- and two homers -- in five innings for Las Vegas at Fresno. Binghamton was swept at Portland in a doubleheader. Luis Cessa was tagged with the loss in Game 1, in his Double-A debut. Dilson Herrera finished 3-for-4 with a homer as St. Lucie beat Clearwater, 5-2. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Marc Carig in Newsday suggests Citi Field’s dimensions may be in the Mets players’ heads. Writes Carig:

For some team officials, the ugly truth is that Citi Field has once again gotten in the heads of their hitters. They are trying too hard -- swinging harder, pressing, you name it -- to conquer the park's dimensions. Whether or not they're willing to admit it, they are competitors who have given way to human nature, even though compromising the process has made it even harder to get results.

“It gets to be more of a mental thing than it actually is physical,” hitting coach Dave Hudgens said. “Because the swings get longer, you try to do a little bit more. It’s more about us than it is anything else.”

• The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, a devout Mets fan, had a little fun with Philadelphia Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg’s claim of food poisoning.

Matt Harvey is back on Twitter after a month-long timeout. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.

• Columnist Anthony Rieber in Newsday likes Puig’s flair. Puig, apparently, plans to visit the Statue of Liberty before Thursday’s game.

From the bloggers … Blogging Mets says Citi Field’s walls are not going anywhere.

BIRTHDAYS: Ex-Mets outfielder Collin Cowgill will need more candles. He turns 28. ... 2013 third-round pick Casey Meisner, a high school selection out of Texas, is 19.

TWEETS OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets use Eric Campbell in the outfield? At the expense of whose playing time?

Series preview: Mets vs. Dodgers

May, 18, 2014

Getty ImagesThe Mets face Josh Beckett, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Greinke at Citi Field.
METS (20-23, fourth place/NL East) vs. LOS ANGELES DODGERS (23-22, third place/NL West)

Tuesday: RHP Rafael Montero (0-1, 4.50) vs. RHP Josh Beckett (1-1, 2.38), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Jacob deGrom (0-1, 1.29) vs. LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (3-2, 3.00), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: LHP Jonathon Niese (2-3, 2.54) vs. RHP Zack Greinke (7-1, 2.03), 7:10 p.m. ET

Dodgers short hops

Josh Beckett on Tuesday earned his first win since Sept. 30, 2012. He had been 0-6 in 14 starts. Beckett did not pitch after mid-May last season and ultimately underwent surgery to remove a rib. That procedure attempted to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome -- a pinched nerve affecting his right arm. For the season, the 34-year-old Beckett leads the L.A. rotation in WHIP (1.056) and hits per nine innings (6.3). Beckett is throwing his fastball a career-low 35.5 percent of the time. He now throws a curveball a career-high 30.1 percent.

Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched a four-inning simulated game Friday and will reenter the rotation Wednesday, officially pushing originally listed starter Paul Maholm to the bullpen. That also could push reliever Chris Withrow to the minors despite a 2.77 ERA, because Withrow is not out of options. Ryu landed on the DL with left-shoulder inflammation.

Maholm (1-4, 5.40 ERA) enters the series off a start against the Miami Marlins in which he allowed 10 runs (five earned) on 11 hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings. Reed Johnson homered against him on a 62 mph curveball, the slowest pitch resulting in a long ball in the majors since Jose Bautista sent a 61.7 mph offering also from Maholm over the outfield wall on May 28, 2013, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Maholm made three relief appearances in March/April, including during the club’s season-opening trip to Australia.

Darron Cummings/Associated PressEx-Met Justin Turner will be at Citi Field with the Dodgers on Tuesday.

Justin Turner, a surprise non-tender by the Mets on Dec. 2, returns to Citi Field as a visitor. Turner (.230, 0 HR, 5 RBIs in 74 at-bats) started five times at third base in a six-game stretch through Wednesday with Juan Uribe dealing with a mild hamstring strain.

• Dodgers outfielders Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig have combined to hit .354 (79-for-223) with 15 doubles, 10 homers and 40 RBIs in May.

Puig lost a pair of lengthy streaks Sunday by going 0-for-3 and getting hit by a pitch on the back of the leg in his final plate appearance. He had produced an RBI in eight straight games, matching the franchise record previously accomplished four times, most recently by Adrian Beltre in 2004. He also lost a career-high 16-game hitting streak. Showing more strike-zone discipline than a year ago, Puig ranks seventh in the NL in batting average (.322) and tied for second in RBIs (35). The story about Puig’s defection from Cuba, which includes black-market smugglers, was chronicled in April in ESPN The Magazine.

Ethier largely has been the odd man out. With Kemp resting Sunday, Ethier started for only the third time in L.A.’s past 10 games.

Zack Greinke has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 21 straight starts. That matches Roger Clemens (1990-91) for the longest streak in the majors since earned runs became an official stat in 1913, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Greinke ranks first in the NL in wins (seven) and third in ERA (2.03), trailing only Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto (1.25) and Chicago’s Jeff Samardzija (1.62). Greinke has thrown six different types of pitches this season.

• Second baseman Dee Gordon leads the majors with 25 steals. That’s 10 ahead of runner-up Eric Young Jr.

• Backup catcher Drew Butera, the son of former major-league catcher Sal Butera, originally was a Mets farmhand. Two years after he was drafted in the fifth round, Butera was sent to the Minnesota Twins with Dustin Martin on July 30, 2007 for Luis Castillo.

No. 1 catcher A.J. Ellis returned from the disabled list Wednesday after missing 34 games with a left-knee injury that resulted in April 8 arthroscopic surgery. Miguel Olivo was dispatched to Triple-A Albuquerque with Ellis’ activation.

Butera, incidentally, has pitched twice for the Dodgers since Wednesday in lopsided losses. He tossed a 1-2-3 inning, topped out at 94 mph and capped the initial appearance with a strikeout of Miami’s Marcell Ozuna. Three days later at Arizona, Butera surrendered a double and then two-run homer to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth inning of an 18-7 loss. Butera subsequently recorded two outs, including an inning-ending strikeout of Martin Prado.

Adrian Gonzalez’s 10 homers are tied for third the NL, trailing only Troy Tulowitzki (13) and Giancarlo Stanton (12).

Kenley Jansen has 12 saves in 14 chances and has struck out 31 batters in 18 2/3 innings.

Brian Wilson, who looked so dominant in the season opener in Australia, has mightily struggled. Wilson, 32, has a 9.45 ERA and has allowed 18 hits and 13 walks (one intentional) in 13 1/3 innings. He already has allowed three homers -- a total he has not exceeded since serving up seven long balls in 62 1/3 innings in 2008 as San Francisco Giants closer.

Clayton Kershaw has made two starts since returning from the DL, a trip required because of a strained muscle in his upper back. He’d like to forget the latter outing. Kershaw surrendered seven runs in 1 2/3 innings against the Diamondbacks on Saturday. He allowed four extra-base hits in the second inning alone -- matching the combined total from his three previous starts this season. Kershaw came into the outing with a 25-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but issued two free passes in a seven-run second inning.

Morning briefing: Aiming for thump of Cole

April, 28, 2013

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Jon Niese pitches this afternoon for the first time since getting struck in the right ankle Tuesday.
FIRST PITCH: The Mets will try to avoid getting swept as Jonathon Niese heads to the mound at 1:10 p.m. today opposite winless Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels.

Niese will be making his first start since getting nailed on the right ankle by a comebacker Tuesday off the bat of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Mark Elllis.

Hamels is 5-10 with a 4.33 ERA in 21 career starts against the Mets.

Terry Collins suggested outfielders Marlon Byrd and Juan Lagares likely would be in the starting lineup.

Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz is due to be activated after serving a 25-game suspension related to amphetamines.

Sunday’s news reports:

Shaun Marcum surrendered three runs in four innings and was dissatisfied with his Mets debut. Robert Carson then served up homers to Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. in the fifth as the Met lost to the Phillies, 9-4, Saturday at Citi Field. The Mets have now lost eight of their past nine games against Philadelphia. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday, Philadelphia Inquirer and

• The Mets demoted Josh Edgin to clear the roster spot for Marcum. Edgin reported to Binghamton, not Las Vegas, because the offense-first Pacific Coast League is not conducive to getting on track. Read more in the Record, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Newsday and

Mike Stobe/Getty Images
John Buck has eight homers in April, matching the most ever by a Mets catcher in the month.

• Steve Serby in the Post has a Q&A with John Buck, who homered in the ninth inning Friday. It was Buck’s eighth long ball in April, matching Mike Piazza (2001) and Todd Hundley (1996) for most by a catcher in the opening month in franchise history. The overall Mets record for April is nine homers, by Carlos Delgado (2006) and Dave Kingman (1976). Among Buck’s exchanges with Serby:

Q: You and your wife grew up together in Salt Lake City. How did you propose?

A: “I was at one of her last volleyball games [at Snow College]. They called her to the 10-foot line at a volleyball game. ... I proposed to her at the 10-foot line in her volleyball game."

Buck also notes that Harvey reminds him of Zack Greinke.

• Cody Derespina in Newsday goes inside the numbers of Buck’s April production, which has tailed off despite Friday’s long ball.

• Attendance seems to get a modest bump at Citi Field with Harvey on the mound. As for ratings on SNY, they’re 14 percent higher in games Harvey starts, according to Bob Raissman in the Daily News.

• Mike Kerwick in the Record suggests waiting a little while before erecting a statue in Harvey’s honor.

Frank Francisco and Jenrry Mejia are progressing after injuries.

• Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post suggests there is “no relief in sight” for the Mets.

• Columnist Tim Smith in the Daily News says Marcum fit in with all the other Mets starting pitchers not named Harvey.

• Terry Collins stuck to his reconfigured lineup for a second straight day Saturday. Read more in the Post.

• Logan Verrett improved to 4-0 as Double-A Binghamton beat Akron 7-2. Rainy Lara tossed 7 1/3 scoreless innings in low-A Savannah’s 1-0 win against West Virginia. Read the full minor league recap here.

• Gregg Sarra in Newsday chats with St. Lucie catcher Cam Maron, who hails from Hicksville, Long Island.

R.A. Dickey faces the Yankees in the Bronx today. Read more in the Post.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing thought extended spring training continued Saturday at Citi Field … Shannon from Mets Police is watching his favorite baseball team and thinks, "I have a bad feeling about this."

BIRTHDAYS: Dillon Gee turns 27. … Jorge Sosa, who is pitching in Japan for the second straight season, is 35.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Whom should Terry Collins start in the outfield today against left-hander Cole Hamels?

Series preview: Mets vs. Dodgers

April, 22, 2013

The Mets face (l to r) southpaws Clayton Kershaw, Ted Lilly and Hyun-Jin Ryu this week at Citi Field.
METS (9-8, third place/NL East) vs. LOS ANEGELES DODGERS (8-10, fourth place/NL West)

Tuesday: LHP Jonathon Niese (2-1, 3.80) vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw (2-2, 1.88), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Matt Harvey (4-0, 0.93) vs. LHP Ted Lilly (0-0, -.--), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-2, 7.07) vs. LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (2-1, 4.01), 1:10 p.m. ET

Dodgers short hops

• Los Angeles had eight starting pitchers in spring training, but the surplus is depleted. Aaron Harang was traded to the Colorado Rockies, then flipped to the Seattle Mariners, when L.A. seemed like it had a ton of depth. Zack Greinke suffered a broken left collarbone in the altercation with San Diego’s Carlos Quentin (which devolved into Padres president Tom Garfinkel having to apologize for an insensitive comment.) Fill-in Chris Capuano suffered a strained left calf. And now Chad Billingsley landed on the DL Sunday with elbow pain.

Ted Lilly makes his season debut Wednesday, after three minor league starts during which he allowed 24 hits and 15 runs (13 earned) in 17 innings. Lilly is returning from labrum surgery on his left shoulder. He missed the final 118 games of last season. Lilly was ready out of spring training and was upset when he did not make the Opening Day roster.

Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports
Zack Greinke suffered a broken left collarbone courtesy of Carlos Quentin.

Stephen Fife made his season debut Sunday in Baltimore, plugging another rotation spot.

Clayton Kershaw publicly said he did not want to negotiate a contract extension in-season, but the sides are believed to have continued talking hush-hush beyond Opening Day.

Kershaw became the second-youngest Dodger to reach 1,000 career strikeouts on Wednesday, at 25 years, 29 days. Fernando Valenzuela accomplished that feat at age 24 years, 303 days.

Kershaw enters the Citi Field outing off a loss to San Diego in which he matched a career high by surrendering three homers. Still, Kershaw has been exceptional this season. He is not getting run support. L.A. has scored a combined seven runs in his four starts.

Kershaw is 5-0 with a 1.37 ERA in six career starts against the Mets.

• The Dodgers acquired catcher Ramon Hernandez from the Rockies on April 6 for Harang. The trade brought in a backup for A.J. Ellis that will allow 25-year-old catcher Tim Federowicz to get regular playing time in Triple-A. All three were on the active roster this weekend in Baltimore, but that is expected to change.

Hyun-Jin Ryu was named to seven straight South Korean All-Star teams before joining the majors this season. He is viewed as a No. 3 of 4 starter. The Dodgers paid a $25.7 million posting fee to Ryu’s South Korean club, plus owe him $36 million in salary over six years.

Hanley Ramirez, who is on the disabled list after undergoing right thumb surgery, may return quickly -- by the end of the month -- after initial projections of mid-May. Ramirez suffered the injury in the final game of the Dominican Republic’s World Baseball Classic championship run, while diving awkwardly for a groundball.

L.A. has not announced whether Ramirez will play shortstop or third base when he returns, although the educated guess is shortstop. Both spots having gaping voids. Shortstop Justin Sellers is hitting .174. Third baseman Luis Cruz is hitting .087.

• The Dodgers took on $250 million in payroll in the Aug. 25, 2012 mega-trade with the Boston Red Sox that brought in Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto.

• Cuban defector Yasiel Puig -- who signed for $42 million -- is hitting .333 with three homers and nine RBIs through 48 at-bats with Double-A Chattanooga. The 22-year-old right fielder may eventually make Andre Ethier expendable -- or, perhaps, Matt Kemp … if Kemp continues to struggle. Puig is briefly sidetracked in the Southern League because of a sprained left thumb.

• The struggling Kemp -- who finished second in MVP balloting just two years ago, behind Ryan Braun -- injured his shoulder last August in Colorado and had left surgery for a partially torn labrum in October. He had only one Cactus League homer and has not gone deep this season. Kemp is signed through 2019.

• The Dodgers’ most common batting order:

Crawford, lf
Mark Ellis, 2b
Kemp, cf
Gonzalez, 1b
Ethier, rf
Ellis, c
Cruz, 3b
Sellers, ss

• The Dodgers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 7-4 win Sunday at Baltimore. Kemp, who started the season slowly, went 3-for-5 to lift his average to .235. He produced his sixth RBI.

• Manager Don Mattingly appears on the hot seat. His 2014 option has not been picked up.

Morning briefing: Let it snow

April, 15, 2013

FIRST PITCH: Out of the snow and into the … more snow?

After Sunday’s postponement, the Mets have relocated from Minneapolis to Denver, but the forecast is not exactly better at this stop.

Tonight’s forecast, via “Periods of snow. Low near 30F. NNE winds at 20 to 30 mph, diminishing to 10 to 15 mph. 2 to 4 inches of snow expected.”

Weather-permitting, Dillon Gee opposes right-hander Juan Nicasio in the series opener.

If the four-game series materializes uninterrupted, Aaron Laffey will proceed with Tuesday’s start, followed by Jeremy Hefner on Wednesday and Jonathon Niese on Thursday.

Matt Harvey is lined up to face Stephen Strasburg in Friday’s opener against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field.

Shaun Marcum may be activated from the disabled list to start Sunday instead of Laffey, assuming Marcum gets through a tune-up on Tuesday.

Read the full pitching breakdown here.

Denis Poroy/Getty Images
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire likened Matt Harvey to Zack Greinke.

Monday’s news reports:

• Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told Mike Puma in the Post that Harvey reminded him of Zack Greinke.

“We were trying to figure out guys he reminds you of,” Gardenhire told Puma. “It would kind of be hard to place him because he is so poised. But his stuff is comparable to Greinke because he can add and subtract with his fastball and his command of the strike zone and changeup and everything are all solid. Well above-average pitches, so he’s kind of like Greinke. ... I would be excited about him. That’s a nice looking young man and a good looking pitcher.”

Jared Diamond in the Journal notes Harvey’s 13-start success in the majors puts him in some interesting company.

• Zack Wheeler’s Sunday line with Triple-A Las Vegas looked relatively ordinary -- 5.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 8 K. A scout at the game, though, said Wheeler was strong after putting an issue with a blister that affected his first two 51s starts behind him.

“Very good. 94-98 with good life on all pitches,” the scout said. “Pitched better than the line indicates. No sign of finger bothering him. Ball was coming out of his hand well. When he gets to the big leagues, the Mets are going to have a nice threesome at the top of their rotation.”

Las Vegas ultimately beat Colorado Springs, 5-4, in 11 innings on Reese Havens’ walk-off RBI.

Read the full minor league recap here.

• Highly regarded pitching prospect Luis Mateo will get a spot start with Double-A Binghamton tonight before returning to Class A St. Lucie. Mateo will sub for Cory Mazzoni, who will miss a start with arm soreness.

• Read more on the weather situation in Newsday, the Times, Daily News and Star-Ledger.

From the bloggers Mets Police turns five today, and has pictures of the Rockies' inaugural game, played at Shea in 1993. … John Delcos at Mets Report says Harvey is proving to be the real deal. … Ed Leyro of Metsmerized Online sees a real Clash of the Titans taking shape when the Nationals' Strasburg and the Mets' Harvey go toe to toe during the team's next homestand.

BIRTHDAYS: Aaron Laffey, scheduled to start Tuesday, turns 28 today. … Jeromy Burnitz, whose July 14, 2003 trade brought Victor Diaz to the Mets, turns 44. … Outfielder Ricky Otero is 41.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: How many games will the Mets complete during their four days in Denver?

FanGraphs: Why Mets should go all in

July, 1, 2012
The New York Mets are one of the biggest surprises in baseball. With a resurgent David Wright, and a surprising breakout season from R.A. Dickey, the Mets find themselves at just 2.5 games off the division lead -- and would be the second wild card team in the playoffs if the season ended today. But their lead on that spot is tenuous, as there are currently at least eight teams vying for five playoff spots.

While the Mets are in good position, the trade deadline could really shake things up in the National League. If the Mets want to ensure themselves a playoff spot, they should go all in at the deadline.

The first reason why is that the Mets' core group of players are aging. New York's top three players according to WAR are all at an age where it's not typical for players to improve any further. Wright has experienced a big rebound at age 29, but he's dealt with some major injuries throughout his career and there was concern that he was in decline last year. It's a miracle that 33-year-old Johan Santana is pitching this well after missing the entire 2011 season with a shoulder injury. And while Dickey has been phenomenal, he's also 37. They've all churned out great performances this year, but there should be a healthy dose of skepticism as to whether they'll be able to replicate their performances next season.

To read the rest of the story, including why the Mets should consider including Zack Wheeler in a deal for Zack Greinke, click here (Insider).

Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments below.

TC protects Wright; Carrasco denies intent

May, 15, 2012
Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesRyan Braun reacts to getting plunked as D.J. Carrasco walks off the mound after being ejected.
Terry Collins fully admitted pulling David Wright as well as Daniel Murphy the half-inning after D.J. Carrasco was ejected for plunking Ryan Braun because the manager did not want his marquee players as targets for retribution in the 8-0 loss to Milwaukee.

Collins said the Brewers had every right to retaliate, and figured they would go after his star, Wright, who was due to lead off the next half-inning. The manager added that plate umpire Gary Darling had every right to eject Carrasco.

Wright persistently argued in the dugout with Collins about being removed from the game, but said afterward he loved his manager and was merely upset with the situation. Wright wanted to take any retaliatory blow for the team.

"He wasn't getting hurt," Collins said about his reason for pulling Wright, who was 2-for-2 to up his average to .408. "I'm not accusing anybody of the possibility of retaliation. But I don't blame the umpires for doing what they did. I don't blame the other team for any perception they had of what happened. But I've got news for you: In this game, there are unwritten rules. And one of the unwritten rules is you hit my guy, I'm hitting your guy.

"They're not hitting my guy tonight. I'm not exposing him to being hit. He said, 'If anybody gets hit, I want it to be me.' I said, 'I'm sorry, it isn't going to be you.' They're not going to hit Jordany Valdespin. But if they're going to retaliate, they're going to hit David Wright. And that ain't happening tonight. ...

"And I'm not saying they were going to hurt him. Believe me, I'm not accusing them of anything. I just know what might have taken place. And I was trying to avoid it."

Said Wright: "Terry's the manager, and I've got all the respect in the world for Terry. I try to go to battle for Terry every day. He's got to make the move that he thinks is best for the team, and he obviously did that. Whether I agree with it or disagree with it, I respect him. I've loved playing for him the short amount of time that we've had together. And I've got all the respect in the world for Terry specifically.

"You get caught up in the moment. Things probably looked a lot worse than they really were and we go on from here. Terry and I have no issue. It's one of those things, like I said, in the heat of the moment it probably looked worse than it really was. ...

"I guess my thinking at the time was Ryan gets hit and then I go up there and get hit and then everything is settled."

Carrasco, incidentally, denied intent in hitting Braun with the first pitch after Rickie Weeks' homer. Wright said it would be handled inside the clubhouse whether Carrasco actually meant to hit Braun, since it put the third baseman in a perilous spot.

"I was just trying to throw a sinker in first pitch and it got away from me and hit him," Carrasco insisted.

As for the ejection, Carrasco added: "It was a really quick decision. There was not even like a time to read my emotion or take into account the score of the game or the situation there that I was there to throw a few innings out of the bullpen. I'm not trying to get tossed out of the game two or three hitters into the game."

Carrasco didn't think there was a heightened sensitivity to Braun being hit because of beating a 50-game MLB suspension. The umpire made it clear to Carrasco that he was ejected for hitting Braun a pitch after Weeks' homer. Braun has been hit an NL-high five times. Braun declined to comment to Milwaukee reporters.

"I think it was more the fact that there was a home run hit and then a guy was hit right after that," Carrasco said about Darling's motivation. "I told [the umpire] I wasn't trying to hit him right there. It's a seven-, eight-run game, and I'm trying to throw some innings. I'm not trying to hit a guy and get thrown out. He didn't feel that way. He thought it was a retaliation kind of deal for a home run hit. But I don't play that way."

Said Wright about Carrasco's action and the motivation: "That's something that we'll take care of in here. It's not something I'm going to get into right now. But it'll be taken care of. I think it's one thing when the emotion of the game is there and things are said. And it's another thing after you get a few hours or sleep on it and figure it out the next day. ... I'm not sure why he got hit. I don't know."

Wright is playing with a broken right pinkie. He also was infamously beaned by Matt Cain in 2009.

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said about plunking Braun: "I didn't like it, and I don't understand it."

Asked about Collins pulling his stars, Roenicke added: "It was interesting what that was showing."

Collins noted there may not have been retaliation because the umpire had given a warning. Any retaliation would have fallen on Zack Greinke, who was working on a shutout. What would have happened if Wright stayed in the game to face Greinke?

“It made sense,” Greinke said about Collins' move. “I don’t know what would have happened if he stayed in. They don’t want anyone important to get hurt, just like we don’t want someone important getting hurt. That’s kind of the main thing.”

The Mets and Brewers don't meet again until Sept. 14-16 in Milwaukee.

Wright said he regretted venting in the dugout to Collins.

"I was up first that inning, so I didn't have the luxury -- I probably should have picked a better spot for it," Wright said. "But in the heat of the moment, like I said, I was up first and was ready to get my stuff on and Terry kind of got me at a moment where I was upset with the situation and got me at a moment that I was pretty hot. It wasn't directed at Terry at all. I talked to him a handful of times after it happened and we made it very clear -- or I made it very clear to him -- that was not directed at him or the coaching staff whatsoever."

Series preview: Mets vs. Brewers

May, 13, 2012

Associated Press/Getty Images
The Mets face Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke during a two-game miniseries at Citi Field.
METS (19-15, third place/NL East) vs. MILWAUKEE BREWERS (15-19, fourth place/NL Central)

Monday: RHP Miguel Batista (0-1, 5.89) vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo (2-3, 5.35), 7:10 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Dillon Gee (2-2, 4.78) vs. RHP Zack Greinke (3-1, 3.35), 7:10 p.m. ET

Brewers short hops

• 2011 MVP Ryan Braun has nine homers since April 21, the most in the National League since that date. St. Louis’ Carlos Beltran, who again went deep Sunday, is second during that span with eight long balls. Braun successfully contested a 50-game suspension for a positive drug test by challenging the chain of custody of his sample. He has received mixed fan reaction on the road this season -- vociferous booing, for instance, in Atlanta and a rather tame response in San Francisco.

Rickie Weeks suffered a painfully bruised left hand/wrist injury when he was hit by a 96 mph fastball from Cubs reliever Lendy Castillo in the 13th inning Friday -- the second time he was plunked in that game. X-rays were negative, but the Brewers are waiting for swelling to subside to retest him for a possible hairline fracture. Weeks is not on the DL, but may miss both games of the Mets series. Edwin Maysonet started at second base Saturday in Weeks’ place and belted a grand slam after an intentional walk to Travis Ishikawa. Brooks Conrad manned second base Sunday with Maysonet at shortstop so that Cesar Izturis could have a day off, but the Mets may see Maysonet both games at second base.

Mike McGinnis/Getty Images
Ryan Braun has received a mixed reaction from fans on the road since successfully combatting a suspension.

• The Brewers actually are without three-quarters of their original infield. The other two absentees are not returning this season.

Mat Gamel, the successor to Prince Fielder at first base, was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Shortstop Alex Gonzalez also is out for the season after suffering the identical injury. Ishikawa and Taylor Green, with limited Conrad, now are sharing first base. Milwaukee recently spoke with unsigned Derrek Lee, but could not reach terms on a contract. The defensively oriented Izturis has taken over at shortstop.

• Closer John Axford’s streak of consecutive saves ended Friday at 49 with a blown save against the Cubs. Axford was not around after that game to discuss his outing. His wife Nicole unexpectedly had gone into labor, and he left this playful note for reporters: "I put my wife into contractions with my performance tonight! The streak is over so now you can talk about it. The luck I’ve had in the past didn’t show up tonight! All I can do is start another streak and keep my head up! Cliché ... cliché ... cliché ... another cliché. Gotta go! Love, Ax."

Francisco Rodriguez is 0-3 with a 5.28 ERA through 17 appearances, but his numbers actually have been skewed by three bad outings; otherwise, he largely has produced in an eighth-inning role, albeit with his familiar tendency to allow baserunners. K-Rod produced his first save as a Brewer on April 10 at Wrigley Field. He had been offered arbitration last offseason with Milwaukee trying to get draft-pick compensation for him signing elsewhere. But with the closer market congested, Rodriguez accepted the arbitration offer and returned for this season for a guaranteed $8 million.

• The Brewers signed Aramis Ramirez to a three-year, $36 deal as a free agent to succeed Fielder in the cleanup spot, but the ex-Cub is hitting only .230 with two homers and 19 RBIs through 126 at-bats.

• Milwaukee brass has tabled extension talks with Zack Greinke, who is due to be a free agent after the season. The shelving of talks came shortly after Matt Cain signed a five-year, $112 million extension to remain with the San Francisco Giants. Greinke, who formerly acted as his own representative, has hired agent Casey Close to handle the negotiations.

• GM Doug Melvin and manager Ron Roenicke received contract extensions last week. Melvin, who also gained the title president of baseball operations, was extended through 2015. Roenicke’s deal now goes through ’14, with a team option for the following season.

• Ex-Met Carlos Gomez has landed on the disabled list with a hamstring strain. He is due to begin a rehab assignment Wednesday with Class A Wisconsin. Lefty hitters Norichika Aoki and Nyjer Morgan have shared center-field duties -- with Aoki starting against southpaws and the struggling Morgan (.200, no RBIs) against righties. Aoki joined the Brewers from the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, where he was a .329 career hitter and won Central League batting titles in 2005, ’07 and ’10.

Yovani Gallardo’s season totals look a whole lot better if you subtract a pair of starts against the Cardinals. He is 0-2 with a 22.24 ERA (14 ER in 5.2 IP) against St. Louis this season. Against others, he is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA.

• Catcher Jonathan Lucroy was batting .333 as a catcher (29-for-87) before going hitless Sunday in four at-bats. That average matched Carlos Ruiz’s for tops in the NL at that position. Overally, Lucroy now is hitting .326.

• Milwaukee has bunted in a run an MLB-leading five times this season.


Batista vs. Brewers (career: 1-0, 2.72 ERA)
Jonathan Lucroy .500, 1 RBI, 2 PA
Rickie Weeks .333, 1 BB, 1 K, 8 PA
Travis Ishikawa .333, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 4 PA
Cesar Izturis .222, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 28 PA
Aramis Ramirez .143, 2 BB, 16 PA
Ryan Braun .000, 2 K, 4 PA
Brooks Conrad .000, 1 PA

Gee vs. Brewers (career: 0-1, 3.00 ERA)
Corey Hart .333, 3 PA
Rickie Weeks .250, 2 K, 4 PA
Jonathan Lucroy .000, 1 RBI, 3 PA
Ryan Braun .000, 1 BB, 3 PA
Aramis Ramirez .000, 1 K, 3 PA
Nyjer Morgan .000, 3 PA

Gallardo vs. Mets (career: 2-2, 3.47 ERA)
Lucas Duda .500, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 K, 6 PA
Mike Nickeas .500, 1 K, 2 PA
Scott Hairston .333, 2 RBI, 1 K, 6 PA
Ronny Cedeno .300, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K, 11 PA
David Wright .214, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 7 K, 16 PA
Daniel Murphy .167, 1 RBI, 3 K, 6 PA
Justin Turner .167, 2 K, 6 PA
Andres Torres .000, 1 BB, 1 K, 8 PA
Ike Davis .000, 2 BB, 2 K, 6 PA

Greinke vs. Mets (career: 0-1, 6.43 ERA)
Ronny Cedeno .300, 1 RBI, 2 K, 10 PA
Scott Hairston .000, 1 K, 3 PA
Rob Johnson .000, 2 PA

Last series results

Milwaukee won, 3-0, at Citi Field, Aug. 19-21, 2011 (AP game recaps)

Brewers 6, Mets 1: The Mets became the first team in major league history to lose the opening game in their first 10 homestands of a season, STATS LLC said. Prince Fielder hit a pair of RBI singles and later confronted Mets reliever Tim Byrdak in a late dustup that caused the benches and bullpens to empty. Shaun Marcum pitched the Brewers to their 20th win in 23 games. They closed out this testy victory at 12:51 a.m. Fielder already was 2-for-2 with two walks when he came up in the eighth. Byrdak's first pitch was a fastball at Fielder's chest that backed him away from the plate. Fielder grounded out on the next pitch, then took a sudden right turn after hitting first base, curling back to intercept Byrdak on the way to the dugout. Terry Collins, Josh Thole and plate umpire Angel Campos intervened to prevent any escalation. Order was quickly restored. Brewers reliever Frankie De La Cruz plunked Mike Baxter in the ninth, without incident. Ryan Braun wasn't around at the end. He looked at strike three in the third inning, loitered in the batter's box and was eventually ejected by Campos. Marcum (11-3) improved to 4-0 in nine starts since losing at Yankee Stadium on June 29. He allowed one run in seven innings.

Brewers 11, Mets 9: Prince Fielder hit a long home run early and a key single in the ninth inning, spoiling the Mets' chances of a win against former closer Francisco Rodriguez. Casey McGehee followed Fielder's tying hit with a two-run single off Manny Acosta, capping a four-run rally. The Brewers blew a late 7-1 lead, but came back after Angel Pagan hit a two-run homer off Rodriguez (5-2) in the eighth. Mets reliever Jason Isringhausen (3-3) couldn't get an out in the ninth and left after a bases-loaded walk. Fielder, Ryan Braun and Yuniesky Betancourt all homered for the Brewers, who have won eight of their last nine games. John Axford pitched the ninth for his 37th save.

Brewers 6, Mets 2: Prince Fielder drove in the go-ahead run on a botched potential double-play grounder in the eighth and Yovani Gallardo shut down the Mets for seven innings, leading Milwaukee to its first series sweep in New York. Casey McGehee homered off R.A. Dickey in the fourth and Ryan Braun had three hits, an RBI and scored twice after stealing bases for the Brewers. Gallardo (14-8) gave up six hits in the finale to match a career high for wins.

Mets morning briefing 2.23.11

February, 23, 2011
Lots of meetings Wednesday morning for the Mets, as they do back-to-back sessions on security and dealing with the media.

On to the news reports ...

• Maybe Fred and Jeff Wilpon will sell more than 25 percent of the Mets -- while not giving up control. Steve Greenberg, the man charged with finding investors, tells The New York Times: "Let's just say that a noncontrolling stake could be north of 25 percent." Authors Richard Sandomir and Ken Belson write: "Several investors who have stepped forward publicly and others who have formed groups privately have said they want either a majority share of the team or an option to obtain control of the club over time. While the process is just beginning and teams are rarely sold quickly, several bidders have applied to Major League Baseball to be approved to examine the Mets’ books. Bidders must prove that they have the financial wherewithal to buy the one-quarter share being sold -- a stake that could cost at least $100 million -- and the background that will make the other 29 owners comfortable with them."

• The Post's Mike Puma reviews Ike Davis' tale. Poised to be the Triple-A first baseman last year, that changed when Daniel Murphy injured his right knee the final week of spring training and the Mike Jacobs/Fernando Tatis platoon didn't work out. Now, Davis is a recognizable figure in New York. "In New York I got noticed last year," Davis tells Puma. "If they follow the Mets at all, I don't look like anyone else. I'm very tall. I have a beard, a big nose, what are you going to do? I've got to stand out in a crowd a little bit."

Terry Collins originally did not think Carlos Beltran would participate in full workouts with the team at this point in addition to his leg work. But Beltran has done so, and now Collins is prepared to use him at DH during early Grapefruit League games. The Mets have an intrasquad game Friday, then open official Grapefruit League play Saturday against the Braves in Port St. Lucie with Jenrry Mejia on the mound. Read more about Beltran's usage in Newsday.

• Union chief Michael Weiner and the MLBPA visit every camp by the end of spring training, and the Mets were second on the list. Tuesday in Port St. Lucie, Weiner said he was assured by the commissioner's office that the ownership legal issues would not impact players' guaranteed contracts or the operation of the team going forward. He also said he had full faith the Mets would act appropriately and use Francisco Rodriguez in a manner to win games and not pull any funny business that would jeopardize the closer reaching 55 games finished. That total would vest K-Rod's contract for 2012 at $17.5 million. Read more in Newsday, the Times, Daily News, Star-Ledger and Wall Street Journal.

Steve Popper in the Bergen Record discusses Fernando Martinez, the one-time top Mets prospect who signed for $1.3 million at age 16 in 2005, during Omar Minaya's first period signing international free agents. Now 22, Martinez has developed an arthritic right knee and has averaged 77 games per professional regular season due to injury. "It's not that you doubt the talent," assistant GM John Ricco tells Popper. "It's getting the [at-bats]. If not, that's in the equation. Angel Pagan was a similar case. Everybody knew he had the talent, but you start to say, 'OK, how long can we go?' At some point he's going to have to stay healthy."

• Right-hander D.J. Carrasco's last full year as a starting pitcher was 2005 with the Kansas City Royals. He suffered a shoulder injury that September and was released after the season, notes Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger. Carrasco is technically in the rotation competition, but he's likely to settle into a bullpen role and will be on the roster after signing a two-year, $2.4 million deal. Writes McCullough: "From 2008 to 2010, Carrasco maintained a fielding-independent pitching mark (which removes fielding from the ERA equation) below 3.75 each season. He maintained a 2.04 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He allowed a homer about once every 18 innings."

• Trustee Irving Picard is diversifying to other team's former players. Former Islanders great Bobby Nystrom is the subject of a $1 million clawback lawsuit in the Bernard Madoff mess, Newsday broke. ... The Wilpons want documents from Picard, which you can read about in The Wall Street Journal.

• The Times tells you how you can buy a T-shirt that reads "Madoff" in Mets' script and colors. Classy.

• This is as far as I want to drift from Mets coverage, but Picard is suing the family of a top Security and Exchange Commission lawyer in a $1.5 million clawback lawsuit, the Daily News reports. The article does note the defendant "was not an SEC employee at the time of the estate transactions involving his mother's account. He returned to the SEC in 2009." According to the report, the lawyer became an executor of his mother's estate, which included a Madoff account, in 2004, and liquidated it in '05 at a profit. He had served as the SEC's general counsel from 2000-2002 and then from 2009 until recently. The report claims to be a "gotcha" by asserting that he should have disclosed that when he returned to the SEC. The Daily News then finds someone to assert that should vindicate the Wilpons.

Marty Noble at profiles likely backup outfielders Scott Hairston and Willie Harris. I had previously documented Harris' catches against the Mets in recent years with the Nationals and Braves. Hairston also had a stellar one as a Padre against David Wright, Noble recalls -- a lunging catch in left-center during what was three straight 2-1 losses by the Mets at Petco Park in June 2008. "I thought I had a chance for three RBIs when Scott got me," Wright tells Noble. " But Willie Harris has killed us -- what? -- seven or eight times?"

• Post columnist Mike Vaccaro also tackles Harris, figuratively. Writes Vaccaro: "I like to think of myself as a closer in the outfield. ... Outs are so hard to come by in the major leagues. If a pitcher knows he can rely on you to deliver them when he absolutely needs one, that's a big plus."

• From the out-of-town newsstand, I highly recommend reading new Brewers ace Zack Greinke discussing his social anxiety disorder, as reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

• Meanwhile, Mets beat writer David Waldstein of the Times had to drive south to Miami to track down Isiah Thomas regarding his role in the Carmelo Anthony deal, so we'll give him a plug. "I have no comment on that," Thomas said, while acknowledging: "I always want to see the Knicks do well, and I want to see Jim [Dolan] do well."

BIRTHDAYS: Bobby Bonilla, who works for the Players Association, turns 48. More relevant to the Mets, he goes on the payroll on July 1 for 25 years at $1,193,248.20 annually as part of a deferred compensation agreement from his playing days. ... Ron Hunt, the first Met to start an All-Star Game, in 1964 at second base, turns 70. ... '69 Met Ken Boswell turns 65. ... John Morris, who primarily played for the Cardinals during seven seasons in the majors, turns 50. He has no affiliation with the Mets, but did play high school ball for Mepham High School on Long Island before attending Seton Hall.



Daniel Murphy
.289 9 57 79
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
WB. Colon 15
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187