New York Mets: Zeke Spruill

Collins: Control remains bugaboo for Black

May, 24, 2014
NEW YORK -- Terry Collins suggested Saturday that Vic Black has all the pieces to become an elite late-inning pitcher in the majors, with one exception. He still needs to harness his control.

Black, who is due to join the Mets as the 26th man for Sunday's doubleheader, has a 1.45 ERA with Triple-A Las Vegas this season, but also has 17 walks and a hit batter in 18 2/3 innings.

"The issue is he's been walking guys," Collins said. "His stuff? Off the charts. The other day [Las Vegas manager] Wally [Backman] said he came into a game, he was 98-99 mph, walked the first guy, got a double-play ball, struck the last guy out. That's exactly what's been going on. He has not been getting hit, but the command has not been what you would like it to be in a guy who you project to be the closer one day.

"If we can get him to have better command of his stuff, he'll never see the minor leagues again, because his stuff is 'plus.' I mean, he's got a power breaking ball, movement on the 98 mph fastball. It's all there. He's just got to get it in the zone.

"Wally said he's gotten better, but he's still walking guys. But he's better."

Asked if there was a decent chance Black would stick around beyond Sunday rather than make a U-turn back to Vegas, Collins said: "I really don't have any idea. We've got a day game Monday. Until we get through the games tomorrow to see what Monday looks like -- if we blow out our pitching tomorrow and we think we've got to have an extra pitcher on Monday -- who knows?"

Close to catching on: Travis d'Arnaud was scheduled to block balls, run the bases and take batting practice Saturday. After that activity, Collins expected doctors would be ready to sign off on d'Arnaud beginning a minor-league rehab assignment. D'Arnaud has been sidelined since suffering a concussion on May 13 at Yankee Stadium on a backswing from Alfonso Soriano.

Don't read between lines: Dillon Gee now eyes June 5 at Wrigley Field for his return from a strained right lat muscle. That lines up to displace Jacob deGrom, not Rafael Montero in the rotation.

However, pitching coach Dan Warthen insisted not to read anything into the tentative date for Gee's return -- suggesting it easily could be revised if the organization instead chooses to bounce Montero to the bullpen or Triple-A.

Sensitive subject: Gonzalez Germen initially landed on the DL with a virus, but was pulled off a rehab assignment with what Sandy Alderson labeled an abscess. That abscess apparently is in a sensitive area of Germen's body, and Collins said he preferred not disclosing precisely where. "I don't necessarily know if I'm the guy to tell you where it is," Collins said. "It's not in his shoulder. I can assure you of that. ... Undisclosed location."

Order established: Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said Bronson Arroyo will oppose Rafael Montero in Game 1 of Sunday's doubleheader. Right-hander Zeke Spruill will be promoted from Triple-A Reno to oppose Daisuke Matsuzaka in Game 2. Spruill, 24, was 2-1 with a 4.72 ERA in 12 games (five starts) in the Pacific Coast League this season. He has pitched three times this season against Las Vegas, the Mets affiliate, and allowed one run in seven innings.

Morning Briefing: Friday never happened

May, 24, 2014

Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesDaisuke Matsuzaka will get a spot start in Game 2 of Sunday's doubleheader.

FIRST PITCH: Friday officially never happened.

After playing 3˝ innings at Citi Field, then sitting through a 132-minute rain delay, the Mets’ series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks was washed away at Citi Field. The statistics, including Bartolo Colon serving up a two-run homer to Aaron Hill that had given the D-backs a 2-0 lead, will not count.

Zack Wheeler (1-4, 4.53 ERA) opposes right-hander Josh Collmenter (2-2, 4.02) on Saturday at 4:10 p.m. as previously scheduled.

The teams will now play a single-admission doubleheader at 1:10 p.m. Sunday, starting from scratch in the rainout makeup.

Rafael Montero starts Game 1 for the Mets, with Daisuke Matsuzaka getting a spot start in Game 2. Pitching coach Dan Warthen said he believes Matsuzaka is capable of logging 100 pitches despite solely working in relief during the regular season.

Bronson Arroyo and a minor-league call-up -- potentially Zeke Spruill -- will start Sunday’s games for the D-backs, with the order undeclared so far.

Both teams will be permitted to add a 26th player for the doubleheader. Assuming the Mets choose to add a reliever already on the 40-man roster for the day -- which is sensible -- Vic Black would seem the obvious choice. He has a 1.45 ERA in 17 relief appearances, but also has allowed 12 hits and 17 walks (one intentional) and hit a batter in 18 2/3 innings.

Saturday’s news reports:

Jon Soohoo/Getty ImagesJerry Seinfeld would rather enjoy eating a hot dog at the ballgame than own the club.

• Mets fan Jerry Seinfeld tells Scott Raab in Esquire he would have no interest in owning the ballclub. “Never even for a second. It would be an endless series of headaches morning till night,” Seinfeld said. “The peak of being a fan is a hotdog and a beer and a seat at the game. There’s nothing above that. Nothing above it.” Read more in the Star-Ledger.

Matt Harvey joined Linda Cohn on the “Listen Closely” podcast to talk Tommy John surgery, the New York Rangers and his social life. Listen here.

• The Mets have hired Harold Kaufman -- a former executive with the NBA’s Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans -- as executive director of communications. Kaufman will try to promote the Mets to non-sports audiences, such as via the entertainment and lifestyle media.

Writes Anthony McCarron in the Daily News on that topic:

Let’s hope that Harold Kaufman, the Mets’ new PR whiz, can play shortstop and smack a few balls over Citi Field’s deep fences because what the Mets need more than any media makeover is better players.

Their poor public image -- talked to a Met fan lately? -- is not a media problem. It’s a baseball problem. A good product equals good PR, not the other way around. That’s how this business works.

Read more in the Times.

• New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would love to be the next Mets GM. Read more in the Daily News.

Travid d’Arnaud is moving closer to a rehab assignment as his concussion symptoms have subsided.

Dillon Gee now looks like he will miss four turns in the rotation while on the disabled list with a lat-muscle strain. Gee said he plans to get on a mound for the first time since landing on the DL on Sunday. That means he may not return until June 5 at Wrigley Field, assuming he bumps Jacob deGrom from the rotation. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Read about the rainout and revised schedule in the Arizona Republic, Post, Star-Ledger, Record and at

Curtis Granderson is hitting .310 with five homers and 14 RBIs in May, Brian Lewis writes in the Post. Read more in the Times.

Jenrry Mejia got over a mental hurdle Thursday by pitching for a second straight day, Mike Vorkunov writes in the Star-Ledger. Read more in Newsday.

• Kevin Plawecki delivered a tiebreaking solo homer in the eighth for his 19th RBI in May and Binghamton beat New Britain, 3-2. Right-hander Matt Koch improved to 6-0 as St. Lucie beat Clearwater, 6-2. Read the full minor-league recap here.

BIRTHDAYS: Colon turns 41. ... Angels GM/ex-Met Jerry Dipoto is 46. ... Jae Weong Seo turns 37. ... Justin Hampson is 34.

TWEETS OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Is Daisuke Matsuzaka the correct choice to make Sunday’s spot start against the D-backs? (Noah Syndergaard logged 82 pitches Wednesday in Triple-A and would have been required to pitch on short rest Sunday -- not exactly a consideration.)

Rapid Reaction: Mets 9, D-backs 5

August, 11, 2013

PHOENIX -- Jonathon Niese struggled in his first major league start in more than seven weeks but nonetheless contributed six innings and earned the victory Sunday afternoon.

Andrew Brown's three-run homer in the seventh against right-hander Will Harris opened a four-run lead en route to an 9-5 rubber-game win against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.

Norm Hall/Getty ImagesArizona's Cody Ross suffered a dislocated right hip running to first base in the first inning.

It was Brown's second career pinch-hit homer. He also went deep in that role June 20 against Atlanta Braves left-hander Mike Minor.

Wilmer Flores produced a ninth-inning solo homer against Heath Bell -- the rookie's first big league long ball. It extended Flores' streak of games with an RBI to five. Flores now has nine RBIs in his first six major league games.

Staked to a 5-1 lead, Niese served up a three-run homer to Aaron Hill in the third that pulled Arizona within a run. But Niese, who had been on the disabled list with a partial tear of the rotator cuff in his left shoulder since a June 20 start, completed his outing with three straight scoreless innings.

He created his own jam in the sixth when he fielded Tuffy Gosewisch's comebacker and then bounced a throw to second base attempting to initiate a double play. But Niese rallied to strand two baserunners and preserve a 5-4 lead by consecutively striking out Cliff Pennington and pinch hitter Jason Kubel.

Niese's line: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR. He threw 83 pitches (56 strikes).

Walk in the park: Ike Davis, now batting .205, reached base eight straight plate appearances over two games before a ninth-inning strikeout. Davis had three walks and a single Sunday.

Bad run: The Mets had four runners thrown out on the bases in the series. In the series finale, Mike Baxter was retired at the plate trying to score from first base on Omar Quintanilla's third-inning single. Marlon Byrd (attempting an inside-the-park homer) and Juan Lagares (attempting a triple) were thrown out Friday. Flores was retired going first to third Saturday.

Olé: The Mets scored four unearned runs in the first inning. Rookie Zeke Spruill was poised to escape a bases-loaded, two-out jam unscathed. But first baseman Paul Goldschmidt missed Baxter's would-be inning-ending grounder and three runs scored. Anthony Recker followed with a run-scoring double past third baseman Martin Prado.

Ouch: Arizona's Cody Ross dislocated his right hip running to first base on a first-inning groundout.

What's next: The Mets open a three-game series in Los Angeles against the red-hot Dodgers. Jenrry Mejia (1-1, 1.96 ERA) opposes right-hander Ricky Nolasco (8-9, 3.65) in Monday's 10:10 p.m. ET series opener. The Mets will avoid facing Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in the series.

Morning Briefing: Niese to shoulder load

August, 11, 2013

John Bazemore/Associated Press
This afternoon, Jon Niese pitches in his first major league game since June 20.

FIRST PITCH: Jonathon Niese is set to take the mound in a major league game for the first time in more than seven weeks.

Niese, who has been on the disabled list with a partial tear of the rotator cuff in his left shoulder, opposes right-hander Zeke Spruill in the rookie’s second career major league start. The Mets and Diamondbacks play the rubber game of their three-game series at 4:10 p.m. ET at Chase Field.

"It's definitely a relief to know I had zero soreness in between rehab starts," said Niese, who appeared in three minor league games. “Granted, I wasn’t throwing that many pitches. But each outing I was building more pitches and I felt great after each outing. That’s kind of relief. Hopefully that keeps going.”

Niese threw 80 pitches in his last rehab start, with Double-A Binghamton. Terry Collins said he expects the southpaw to be capped at about 90 pitches this afternoon.

“It actually ran a lot smoother than I thought it was going to,” Niese said about his return from the injury. “When the doctor tells you that you’ve got a tear, it’s kind of scary. You don’t think that you’re going to be able to get back in the time you hope for. Luckily, everything went smooth and I was able to get back at a pretty rapid pace.

“Before I got hurt, I was trying to pitch through some soreness,” he continued. “I really didn’t feel like I had my stuff. But hopefully after this I can settle down and get my stuff back and help the team win.”

The Mets will need to make a pregame roster move to clear a spot for Niese. Terry Collins indicated the Mets likely would shed a bench player, so Andrew Brown would appear the most vulnerable.

Sunday’s news reports:

Associated PressYoungsters Juan Lagares, Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores all were big contributors to Saturday's win at Arizona.

• In his 10th major league start, Zack Wheeler took a scoreless effort into the seventh inning and the Mets beat the Diamondbacks, 4-1, Saturday night. Pedro Feliciano retired another lefty batter, this time after inheriting the bases loaded from Carlos Torres in the eighth. Wilmer Flores drove in three runs. Flores now has eight RBIs in five major league games. Ike Davis went 2-for-2 with two walks and lifted his average above .200 for the first time this season. Juan Lagares produced a solo homer.

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

• Collins emphatically stated Omar Quintanilla is his shortstop. Tejada is 4-for-his-last-52 with Triple-A Las Vegas anyway.

• A sleepover, at up to $200 per ticket, drew about 400 people to Citi Field overnight, according to the Mets.

• Rafael Montero allowed one run and two hits in seven innings as Las Vegas beat Oklahoma City, 4-1. Noah Syndergaard tossed five scoreless innings before being removed at 56 pitches to limit his innings and Binghamton went on to lose, 6-4, to Erie. Dustin Lawley produced his Florida State League-leading 24th homer as St. Lucie beat Palm Beach in 10 innings, 5-4. Seth Lugo tossed seven scoreless innings as Savannah beat Hickory, 2-0. John Gant had a no-hit bid through 5 1/3 innings as Brooklyn edged State College, 2-1. Read the full minor league recap here.

• Collins, who had floated Wheeler potentially working out of the bullpen at the end of the season, now says that is off the table. Even with an innings cap, Wheeler should have enough innings to finish the season as a starting pitcher anyway. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• On Ike’s struggles and his future with the organization, ex-Yankee father Ron -- who attended Saturday’s game -- told the Times: “It’s just part of the game. That’s the main thing, and he knows that. Things happen to baseball players. I went to arbitration twice. One side will say all kinds of great things. The other makes you wonder how you even played Little League.”

• Read more on Niese’s return in the Daily News, Post, Star-Ledger, Record and Newsday.

• Read more on Feliciano in the Daily News.

• Although their aggressiveness may be hurting them this series, the Mets have been excellent baserunners this season, Marc Carig notes in Newsday.

• Mike Kerwick in the Record suggests the future has arrived.

BIRTHDAYS: The Fonz, Edgardo Alfonzo, turns 40.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets use Wilmer Flores at shortstop once David Wright returns?

Series preview: Mets at Diamondbacks

August, 9, 2013

Associated Press, USA TODAY SportsThe Mets face (l to r) Patrick Corbin, Brandon McCarthy and Zeke Spruill this weekend at Chase Field.
METS (52-60, third place/NL East) vs. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (58-55, second place/NL West)

Friday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (4-8, 4.23) vs. LHP Patrick Corbin (12-3, 2.33), 9:40 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Zack Wheeler (4-2, 3.73) vs. RHP Brandon McCarthy (2-5, 4.94), 8:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: LHP Jonathon Niese (3-6, 4.32) vs. RHP Zeke Spruill (0-1, 6.48), 4:10 p.m. ET

Diamondbacks short hops

• All-Star Patrick Corbin’s 12 wins are one off the NL lead, shared by St. Louis Cardinals teammates Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn as well as Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann. Corbin’s 2.33 ERA trails only Clayton Kershaw (1.91) and Matt Harvey (2.09). Corbin had been 9-0 until the Mets scored five runs in six innings and handed him a defeat at Citi Field on July 2. A victim of little run support, Corbin now has lost two straight starts, although he allowed only a combined four runs in 14 innings in those defeats.

• The Diamondbacks dealt underachieving right-hander Ian Kennedy to the San Diego Padres at the trade deadline for situational left-hander Joe Thatcher, potential future closer Matt Stites and a draft pick. Arizona personnel have compared the right-handed Stites to Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel. Kennedy, a 21-game winner two years ago, was 3-8 with a 5.23 ERA in 21 starts for Arizona this season.

Brad Mangin/Getty ImagesPaul Goldschmidt leads the National League in RBIs.

• Third baseman Martin Prado has five multi-hit games in his past seven games. He is hitting .388 with two homers and 14 RBIs in 18 games since the All-Star break. He reached base in all five of his plate appearances Wednesday. Prado, acquired from the Braves during the offseason in the Justin Upton trade, has made consecutive starts in left field before shifting to third base later in the games. That’s because manager Kirk Gibson is fiddling with his lineup with outfielders Jason Kubel (.226, 5 HR) and A.J. Pollock (.249, 6 HR) struggling.

• Sidearmer Brad Ziegler has taken over for ex-Mets J.J. Putz and Heath Bell in the closer’s role. Ziegler has converted all seven of his save chances and has not allowed an earned run in 12 straight appearances. Putz and Bell nonetheless have contributed 11 straight scoreless appearances apiece. Ziegler coaxed 21 double plays last season, which led major league relievers. Putz blew a save chance July 1 at Citi Field in his second game after a DL stint, after which Ziegler stepped into the role and excelled.

Paul Goldschmidt is tied with Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez for second in the NL with 26 homers, one shy of leader Pedro Alvarez of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Goldschmidt has a league-leading 90 RBIs.

• Catcher Miguel Montero landed on the disabled list a week ago with a lower-back strain and required an epidural injection. Wil Nieves is handling the bulk of the catching duties in Montero’s absence, while Tuffy Gosewisch has been promoted as the backup.

• After making his major league debut in June as a reliever and appearing in four games, 23-year-old Zeke Spruill made his first major league start last Thursday at Texas. The rookie right-hander -- who also arrived in the Upton trade -- allowed five runs in four innings, including homers to A.J. Pierzynski, David Murphy and Mitch Moreland.

Trevor Cahill is nearing a return to the rotation, but remains on the DL with a right hip injury. Cahill allowed six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Reno on Tuesday, and it was determined he would make another minor league start before being activated, so Spruill remains in the rotation.

• Outfielder Cody Ross is hitting .412 (14-for-34) with three homers and 10 RBIs in his past nine games (eight starts). He is hitting .394 this season against left-handed pitching.

• Third baseman Eric Chavez (.305, 9 HR), who missed most of June with an oblique injury, is not playing every day, but has produced when in the lineup.

Series preview: Mets vs. Diamondbacks

July, 1, 2013

Associated Press/Getty ImagesThe Mets face two southpaws to open a four-game series vs. Arizona: Wade Miley and Patrick Corbin.
METS (33-45, fourth place/NL East) vs. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (42-39, first place/NL West)

Monday: RHP Shaun Marcum (1-9, 5.08) vs. LHP Wade Miley (4-7, 4.55), 7:10 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (2-6, 3.72) vs. LHP Patrick Corbin (9-0, 2.22), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Matt Harvey (7-1, 2.00) vs. RHP Randall Delgado (0-2, 4.05), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP Dillon Gee (6-7, 4.60) vs. RHP Ian Kennedy (3-4, 5.36), 1:10 p.m. ET

Diamondbacks short hops

• Closer J.J. Putz was activated from the disabled list Saturday. The ex-Met had been sidelined since May 7 with a right elbow strain, which had caused tingling in his fingers. Fellow-ex Met Heath Bell handled the closing duties for seven weeks minus Putz. Although Bell has flirted with danger, he has converted 10 of his last 11 save opportunities.

Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesJ.J. Putz returned from the disabled list Saturday.

• First baseman Paul Goldschmidt leads the NL with 67 RBIs, four ahead of runner-up Allen Craig of St. Louis. Goldschmidt’s 4.2 WAR rating ranks third in the NL, trailing only Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez (5.0) and David Wright (4.5).

• Outfielder Gerardo Parra had been 1-for-20 on the road trip before producing two hits Sunday. Atlanta nonetheless completed a weekend sweep, dropping Arizona to 1-5 on its NL East tour. Parra (.301, 7 homers, 26 RBIs) has been caught stealing nine times in 15 attempts.

Patrick Corbin, while unbeaten, is bidding for his 10th win for his sixth straight start. He last earned a win June 2. In his string of five straight no-decisions, Corbin has a 2.55 ERA and .197 opponent batting average.

Arizona starters actually are winless in 22 straight games. That is the longest streak in the majors since San Diego Padres starters went winless in 25 straight games in April/May 2009, according to STATS. The streak is the second-longest in Diamondbacks history -- trailing only a 24-game winless streak by their starting pitchers in 1998.

• Right-hander Randall Delgado, who starts Wednesday, arrived with Martin Prado as well as Brandon Drury, Nick Ahmed and Zeke Spruill in the Jan. 24 trade that sent Justin Upton and Chris Johnson to the Braves. After 13 starts for Triple-A Reno, Delgado made his Diamondbacks debut June 3, coinciding with Brandon McCarthy landing on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.

Delgado twice has faced the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate this season. He surrendered a homer to Andrew Brown while getting charged with five runs in 3 1/3 innings on May 1. Delgado rebounded to limit Las Vegas to one run, albeit on nine hits and two walks, in 5 1/3 innings in a no-decision on May 28.

McCarthy has advanced in his rehab to throwing bullpen sessions.

• Third baseman Eric Chavez (oblique) returned from the disabled list Friday. Eric Hinske, who had started only three games this season and was hitting .173, was designated for assignment to clear the roster spot for Chavez’s return.

• Outfielder Cody Ross is hitting .389 against left-handed pitching and .187 against right-handed pitching this season. He signed a three-year, $26 million contract as a free agent in December.

• Catcher Miguel Montero signed a five-year, $60 million extension last season that locks him up through 2017. It was the largest contract in Diamondbacks history. The workhorse Montero (.226, 5 HR, 27 RBIs) has started 70 of the Diamondbacks’ 81 games behind the plate, including 21 straight before Wil Nieves handled the duty Sunday.

ESPN Stats analyzes Braves-Dbacks swap

January, 24, 2013
From ESPN Stats & Information ...

The Atlanta Braves and Arizona Diamondbacks announced a seven-player trade Thursday. Atlanta gets outfielder Justin Upton and third baseman Chris Johnson. Arizona gets infielder Martin Prado, pitcher Randall Delgado, minor-league infielders Nick Ahmed and Brandon Drury and minor-league pitcher Zeke Spruill.

J. Meric/Getty Images
Brothers B.J. and Justin Upton are reunited with the Braves.


From Elias: B.J. and Justin Upton could become only the fourth pair of brothers to play at least 100 games each in the outfield for the same team in the same season. The only brothers to do so were Paul and Lloyd Waner for the Pirates (10 times from 1927 to 1938), Jesus and Matty Alou for the Giants (1965), and Tony and Billy Conigliaro for the Red Sox (1970).

Justin Upton Highest BA by Ballpark
Chase Field .307
Turner Field .293
Petco Park .291
Citi Field .283
<< Minimum 10 games

* The Upton brothers provide a power upgrade over the men they replace in the Atlanta outfield, Martin Prado and Michael Bourn, but besides home runs, the jump isn't substantial.

Justin and B.J. Upton
vs Michael Bourn and Martin Prado Last Season

Uptons, Bourn/Prado
BA .263, .288
HR 45, 19
XBH 106, 103
Slug pct .442, .414

* Justin Upton had a down season in 2012 compared to his 2011 campaign. While his averages were often similar, his power was down.

Justin Upton Last 2 Seasons
2011, 2012
BA .289, .280
OBP .369, .355
HR 31, 17
RBI 88, 67

Highest OPS Among NL Outfielders Since 2008
Ryan Braun .933
Matt Holliday .924
Carlos Beltran .870
Andrew McCutchen .858
Matt Kemp .855
Andre Ethier .844
Justin Upton .842
<< Minimum 500 games

* Justin Upton really struggled against offspeed pitches in 2012. He batted .300 against the fastball, but that average was just .245 against offspeed stuff.

Justin Upton vs Offspeed Pitches in 2012
BA .245
Slug pct .368
OPS .675
K pct 23.2 >> << 16.8% vs fastball

* Martin Prado ranked 10th in the NL in WAR last season (5.4), providing more than twice Upton's value (2.1). Prado has accumulated 12.1 wins above replacement since 2010. In that span, Upton has 9.2 wins above replacement.



Bartolo Colon
15 4.09 151 202
BAD. Murphy .289
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187