Mets In Lakeland To Face Tigers; Gee Gets Ball

Good morning from Lakeland. Just arrived. The drive was a little over two hours, straight highways all the way through past Yeehaw Junction, dozens of orange groves, junkyards, farms and dilapidated motels.

The weather is nice, but it wasn’t a pretty drive.

The Tigers play in a place called Joker Marchant Stadium, built in 1966. It has been renovated several times. There’s a hill behind the left field fence, much like what the Mets have at Tradition Field in right.

The Mets’ bus just arrived and I’ll be heading to the clubhouse in a few minutes. The Tigers are taking batting practice and there’s only a few people in the stands.

Perhaps it is early in spring training, and maybe the weather has something to do with it – at least from Florida fans and transplants – but there’s a definite drop-off. Usually, the players’ entrance is packed with autograph seekers, but there’s only been a handful back at Port St. Lucie.

There are two schools of thought, with the first being the Mets not an attraction now with little to talk about. The second is many people lost their vacation time because of school make-up days from Hurricane Sandy.

Dillon Gee goes for the Mets today, with this lineup behind him:


Ruben Tejada (.182), ss

Jordany Valdespin (.350), lf

Collin Cowgill (.450), cf

Mike Baxter (.125), rf

Travis d’Arnaud (.429), c

Zach Lutz (.286), 3b

Andrew Brown (.167), dh

Brandon Hicks (.067), 1b

Brian Bixler (.333), 2b

At the end of spring training, after David Wright returns from the WBC and there’s a round or two of roster cuts, manager Terry Collins will settle into a batting order. For now, it is time for experimenting.

Tejada hitting leadoff today with Valdespin behind him. Tejada is being considered for the leadoff job that is still up in the air.

Anxious to see d’Arnaud. Had an interesting conversation with him yesterday. He’s very pleasant and has had a good spring, but expected to open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas.

NOTES:  Jenrry Mejia returned to camp with a thyroid issue similar to the one Jose Reyes had several springs ago. He’s supposed to stay away from seafood. … Reliever Frank Francisco is scheduled to play catch and possibly long-toss today. … Kirk Nieuwenhuis will work out for the second straight day in the pool.



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