Feb 23

Terry Collins Announces Exhibition Starting Pitchers

New York Mets manager Terry Collins announced his rotation for the first five exhibition games Sunday morning.

Rafael Montero will get the ball for the exhibition opener this Friday against Washington at Tradition Field.

He will be followed by fifth-starter candidate John Lannan, March 1 against Miami; fifth-starter possibility Daisuke Matsuzaka, March 2 against St. Louis, at Jupiter; Noah Syndergaard, March 3 against Atlanta, at Orlando; Jonathon Niese, March 4 against Houston in Port St. Lucie.

Presumably, Zack Wheeler, who’ll throw batting practice today, Dillon Gee and Bartolo Colon will be next in line, but the order hasn’t been determined.

Relievers were not announced.

For the first game, the starters normally get two innings or roughly 30 pitches. The objective is to build them up to seven innings and 100 pitches.

Collins already said he is leaning towards Niese as his Opening Day starter against the Nationals.

It is unlikely Montero, who went 12-7 with a 2.78 ERA last year in 27 starts at Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas, will make the 25-man roster coming out of spring training.

ON DECK:  Could Matt Harvey Be A High Maintenance Super Nova?

 

Feb 22

Wrapping Up The Day: Matt Harvey Throws; Mets Re-Fi; Collins To Ease In Vets

Matt Harvey’s first throwing session and news of the New York Mets’ refinancing their debt incurred from the Ponzi ruling were today’s most significant developments from the Mets’ spring training camp in Port St. Lucie.

Harvey made 20 throws on flat ground from 60 feet Saturday morning and described his feelings as “awesome.’’

Harvey will continue to throw on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. He described it as part of a process and acknowledged he must resist the urge to throw harder.

In addition:

* The Mets’ application to refinance was accepted with the organization several weeks away from having to make a $250-million payment. The five-year loan was priced at Libor plus 3.25 percent.

* Saturday was the first day of full-squad workouts. John Lannan, Gonzalez Germen, Rafael Montero and Scott Rice were among the pitchers to throw live batting practice.

* Manager Terry Collins plans to “ease’’ his veterans into spring training games. Daniel Murphy, David Wright and Curtis Granderson aren’t expected to play the first week.

* Overall, Collins is pleased with the workouts. “I have never seen the drills done with more enthusiasm, with more energy without major mistakes than we have in the last six days. It’s incredible,’’ Collins said.

* Prospect Erik Goeddel will work as a reliever during spring training and the regular season, said general manager Sandy Alderson, whose reasoning is the Mets’ starting pitching depth in the minors.

* Alderson will delay the decision where Harvey will rehab this season. He prefers Port St. Lucie; Harvey wants New York. Since there’s no need to make a decision now, he’ll wait to later in camp.

* Alderson expressed no regrets in the Mets signing outfielder Chris Young and not waiting to sign Nelson Cruz, who just agreed to an $8-million, one-year contract with Baltimore. That’s $750-thousand more than they’ll pay Young.

 

Feb 22

Harvey Feels “Awesome” After Throwing

For New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey, the long and grueling rehab road on the anniversary of his Tommy John surgery took another step when he began his throwing program.

Officially, it was 20 throws on flat ground from 60 feet away to bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello.

HARVEY: Begins throwing program

HARVEY: Begins throwing program (Adam Rubin, ESPN)

Harvey underwent surgery, Oct. 22, after giving up on his plan of trying to treat the injury with rest in an attempt to be ready this season.

Harvey described the procedure to reporters Saturday as using a tendon from his right wrist and wrapping it around his elbow three times.

“It was awesome,’’ Harvey told reporters. “I know it was 20 throws at 60 feet, but everything felt absolutely amazing. I’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s going to be a tough process [even] with how things felt today. But I’ve got to stick with it and move forward.’’

The plan for Harvey, who went 9-5 (but with over 10 no-decisions last summer), is to throw three times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) for now.

Each non-throw day is also important because it allows the trainers to see how the elbow responds to the throwing.

Harvey’s reputation is that of trying to push the envelope, which he acknowledged he must resist.

“There’s a little guy in the back of my head saying, ‘Don’t go too strong.’ He’s usually the one who’s right,’’ Harvey said. “Obviously feeling good and as competitive as I am, I always wanted to push more. But ‘Jiminy Cricket’ was telling me, ‘no’ in the back of my head.’’

Harvey said he’s like to pitch this year, but added that sentiment was the competitor in him surfacing. Harvey did acknowledge he agreed with general manager Sandy Alderson’s assertion he not be a focus this year.

Harvey conceded this was simply the first day in a long process.

 

 

Feb 22

Mets Instruct D’Arnaud Not To Block Plate

Miami Marlins vs New York Mets

Travis d’Arnaud told reporters that regardless of what rule goes into effect regarding blocking the plate, Mets personnel have instructed him today that he is to stand in fair territory and give base runners the whole plate.

The rule, which is not official yet, is to allow runners a lane to part of the plate so as to avoid contact and collisions with the catcher.

Mets bench coach Bob Geren said that he is working with all the Mets catchers about positioning and making sure they tag across the plate.

Last week, Keith Law of ESPN listed Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud among his top twenty impact prospects for 2014, but says he is “the archetypal GWH player” — Good When Healthy.

D’Arnaud can catch, throw, and hit for power, but has to stay on the field. The Mets don’t have a heavy-use backup on the 40-man, so they’re counting on d’Arnaud to catch 120 games this year, which should mean 15-20 homers and excellent defense if he can stay out of the trainers’ room.

Yesterday, Adam Rubin spoke with hitting coach Dave Hudgens about how TDA can shorten his swing and make more contact without the need for conscious mechanical adjustments.

“I think cutting down his swing just means not trying so hard,” Hudgens told Rubin. “I think when he came up last year he was trying, maybe not in his mind, but it looked like he was trying to hit every ball out of the ballpark and over swinging a little bit and probably just trying to do too much. Watching him this year, so far early in camp, his swing has been easy. He’s been staying in the middle of the field. And that will lend to less effort and less bat wrap.”

Last season with the Mets, d’Arnaud batted .202/.286/.263, with one homer, five RBIs, and 21 strikeouts in 99 at-bats.

Rubin asks Hudgens to quantify d’Arnaud’s offensive capability? Is it .270 or .280 with 20 homers?

“Who knows?” Hudgens tells Rubins. “I’m not putting any numbers on guys. He’s got a chance to be a very good offensive player. I mean, he’s got very quick hands. He’s got a good idea at the plate. I think it’s just experience and confidence and getting that playing time. I think last year when he came up he hadn’t played that much. So I think a big thing is just staying healthy.”

If the fans are looking for d’Arnaud to be the next saving grace as Mike Piazza was for the Mets, Hudgens shares with Rubin, that would be asking too much. ”Piazza, I guess, was the greatest hitting catcher who ever lived. I just want Travis to be Travis.”

D’Arnaud acknowledged that he has some work to do and can’t come up to the plate thinking longball everytime. ”That was more me trying to hit the ball 600 feet,” he said. “When I would try to do that, I would overwrap or overswing pretty much, and it would just dig me in a bigger hole.”

Now it’s up to him to fix it.

Feb 22

Mets Re-Financing In Place

Outside a miraculous recovery by Matt Harvey, the New York Mets have the best possible news today. On the day of their first full squad workout, the Mets finalized their refinancing, reported The New York Post.

So, if Fred and Jeff Wilpon are spotted smiling on one of the fields in Port St. Lucie, you’ll know why.

The Wilpon family, stung in the Ponzi scandal, were five weeks from having to make a $250 million payment on an expiring loan. Had the loan been called, it is questionable whether the Mets could have come up with the money.

Reportedly, the Mets lost $10 million last season, but with their payroll to be under $100 million for a third straight year and Major League Baseball’s new television contract, they could turn a profit this season.

The new loan, which is for five years and headed by Bank of America, is for the Libor average plus 3.25 percent. According to the report, the Mets did not have to pay down their former loan to make this one happen.

The Mets, who are currently valued at $1 billion, still need to have Major League Baseball approve the deal, which will be a formality.

Irving Picard, who was assigned to recovering funds for victims in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scandal, initially sued the Wilpons for $1 billion, which would have necessitated selling the Mets. However, the courts reduced that to $386 million.

The Mets’ financial restraints were loosened this winter with the signings of Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon and Chris Young.

While that was an encouraging sign, as is the re-financing, don’t expect a spending spree next winter and the team to return to the days of a $143 million payroll.

If the Mets are competitive this season with a $90 million payroll, they will likely increase spending in small increments.

ON DECK: I’ll have a notebook pertaining to the first full-squad workout.