Jun 15

Conforto Avoids Minor League Demotion; Hopes Swing Adjustment Works

The Mets are optimistic an adjustment Michael Conforto made to his swing after working with hitting coach Pat Roessler and assistant hitting coach Tom Slater might jumpstart his season to the point where it could prevent a trip to the minor leagues.

Specifically, Conforto has been swinging too early at pitches.

“We just sat down and said ‘What’s causing you to chase pitches? What’s causing you to not go the other way with power like you usually do?’ ” Conforto told reporters in Arizona.

“I hit a couple of balls the other way in the Subway Series and it didn’t feel like I had much behind it. Then you go back and look at video and see I am kind of an extension when hitting the ball the other way whereas last year I was kind of catching it in my swing and I was getting a little extra behind it.”

Conforto is hitting .088 for June (3-for-34), but homered Thursday at Arizona. His OPS is .689 this season compared to .999 at this time last season.

We must also remember Conforto is nine months removed from left shoulder surgery and didn’t have a normal spring training.

When told of his OPS last June 14, Conforto said he “absolutely” expects a return to that level before this season concludes.

The Mets’ season could already be lost, but Conforto still believes he can salvage his season personally.

“Getting on base and hitting for extra bases is something I think I am very good at and so far it hasn’t been there and I think that is my identity as a hitter and I think it’s going to get better,’’ Conforto said.

Conforto might have been demoted had Yoenis Cespedes not had a setback to his quad.

Jun 11

Timing Of Gonzalez Release Is Bizarre

Not that Adrian Gonzalez was going to turn their season around, but the timing of the Mets releasing the 36-year-old first baseman after Sunday night’s game – even with three strikeouts – seems a little odd.

For a team in desperate need of offense, why would you release a player who is third in RBI with 26, especially with the leader Asdrubal Cabrera leaving Sunday’s game with an apparent hamstring injury and the second-ranked player in Yoenis Cespedes suffering a setback in his rehab and is out indefinitely?

GONZALEZ: Gone already. (AP)

GONZALEZ: Gone already. (AP)

Bringing up Dominic Smith, who wasn’t impressive in his trial last season, doesn’t appear to be the answer, especially when the Mets are also throwing out the idea of trying Jay Bruce and Jose Bautista at first base.

Smith, who was injured and missed most of spring training because of a strained quad muscle, never had the opportunity to compete with Gonzalez and learn from the All-Star.

As is often the case with GM Sandy Alderson, the announcement was made after the media availability to Gonzalez was over and reporters didn’t have a chance to speak with him.

The Mets will also bring up Ty Kelly with Smith and for the second time in a month, catcher Jose Lobaton was designated for assignment.

As far as Cespedes goes, there’s no timetable for his return any longer. Cespedes played in a rehab game Friday with Double-A Binghamton without incident and sustained a setback Saturday. He’s now in Port St. Lucie working with the Mets’ rehabilitation staff.

“We had been excited about the prospect of getting him back in a few days,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “But we can’t let these injuries stop us from doing what we need to do. We have other Major League players who can step up and get the job done, and that’s what we need to do.

“As this continues to move forward, and it continues to drag on, there has to be a level of understanding that it’s maybe something you battle throughout the rest of your career.

“But I don’t think we’re at that point yet. The goal is still to get him to where he can be out there and feel normal.’’

Cespedes missed 81 games last season and has already missed 24 with more games coming off the schedule on a daily basis.

Jun 08

More Injuries Sack Mets Prior To Subway Series

The Mets received a triple dose of bad news prior to first pitch of their interleague series against the Yankees. Noah Syndergaard won’t start; Jeurys Familia went on the DL; and Yoenis Cespedes probably won’t play.

Syndergaard was scratched from Sunday’s start with swelling in his right index finger and will be replaced by Seth Lugo. Syndergaard last pitched May 25 at Milwaukee

Familia went on the DL with a sore right shoulder retroactive to June 7. Familia has 14 saves in 18 opportunities with a 2.48 ERA, but has been hit hard lately, giving up four runs in the past seven innings.

Jacob Rhame took Familia’s spot on the roster.

The news hits the Mets hard as it removes Lugo and Familia from the bullpen before they face a team that is raking, having won eight of its last ten games.

Assuming the Mets have a save opportunity, Robert Gsellman seems the likely candidate to replace Familia. Then, if the Mets need a couple of innings from a reliever, where will manager Mickey Callaway go without having Lugo available?

Presumably, Anthony Swarzak could take Lugo’s spot if the Mets need a couple of innings.

As far Cespedes is concerned, I didn’t expect him to be ready this weekend.

He’ll go a minor league rehab assignment tonight. He could rest Saturday and possibly play in another rehab game Sunday.

Jun 05

Injury Updates On Syndergaard And Cespedes

The Mets received encouraging news today regarding Noah Syndergaard, and are hopeful about Yoenis Cespedes. Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland said barring a setback Syndergaard should be in line to start Sunday night’s game against the Yankees.

Syndergaard went on the disabled list with a strained ligament in his right index finger after a May 25 start in Milwaukee.

“As long as it doesn’t flare up in the next 24 hours, he should be fine,” Eiland said.

As far as Cespedes goes, he continues to thumb his nose at manager Mickey Callaway’s notion of accountability as he again refused to talk to the media after taking batting against Syndergaard.

The often-injured Cespedes, who missed 81 games last season, went on the disabled list May 16 with a mild strain of his right hip flexor.

Callaway said the Mets hope to have Cespedes run the bases and shag flies in the outfield prior to Wednesday afternoon’s game, “then we’ll go from there.”

Callaway wouldn’t say when Cespedes could return.

I was against Cespedes getting a four-year, $110-million contract for a myriad of reasons, including his injury history; failure to hustle at times; his moodiness [blowing off the media falls into this category]; and penchant for doing things his way.

As far as I’m concerned, the money would have been better spent elsewhere and the Mets don’t need his attitude.

Credit WOR’s Howie Rose for calling Cespedes’ refusal to talk as “silly,’’ and SNY’s Keith Hernandez for saying it was wrong and “that doesn’t wash with me.’’

On a positive note, Todd Frazier was activated from the disabled list after missing 24 games with a strained left hamstring and reliever Anthony Swarzak after missing two months with a strained left oblique.

“I guess I needed that time off,’’ said Frazier. “I’ve played through pain. This was one of those areas (hamstring) where you really can’t do that.’’

To make room on the roster, the Mets optioned pitcher Gerson Bautista to Triple-A Las Vegas and designated left-hander Buddy Baumann for assignment.

Jun 03

Callaway: Mets Need To Get Back To Work

Mets manager Mickey Callaway said his team isn’t focused and maybe it’s time to spend less time before games taking batting practice and more time revisiting spring training fundamental drills.

Callaway was upset when the Mets gifted the Cubs the only runs they needed in today’s 2-0 loss that enabled Chicago to finish its four-game sweep and extend the losing skid to nine of the last 11 games. In particular, he said Steven Matz was slow to first base on a pickoff attempt which enabled Javier Baez to steal home.

This came after Baez faked a steal on the previous pitch.

That was followed by Jay Bruce letting up on a pop-up to short right and letting inexperienced second baseman Luis Guillorme to make the play and allow Willson Contreras – who caught all 13 innings Saturday night – tagged up and score.

Clearly, the Mets didn’t anticipate on either play, which is a fundamental part of playing defense.

“I think we need to shift our focus,’’ Callaway said. “We are not focusing on that part of the game very well. If we have to go out and work on cutoffs and relays and pop-ups and PFP [pitcher’s fielding practice], that is what we will do instead of being on the field and hitting. I guess we need to make some adjustments on what we are focusing on.

“We go out there and do defensive work every day and we go out there and hit, maybe we need to shift our focus to make it more stuff like just ground balls and throwing to bags to be more fundamentals specific. I think it’s focus.’’

Matz said he was being cautious with a runner on third.

“I am not trying to snap a throw [to first] and throw it away,’’ said Matz, but conceded he has to throw the ball harder on the pickoff attempt. “It just caught me off guard. In the future, I’ll be more mindful of the throw. I wasn’t thinking about it.”

There’s no excuse for a left-handed pitcher to be surprised on that play.

As for Bruce, he said he thought Guillorme was already camped to make the catch. Even so, he later admitted that the outfielder has to take charge. He also conceded what we already knew: “I haven’t been good this year. That’s just the bottom line.”

EXTRA INNINGS: The Mets are off Monday, then open interleague play with two games against Baltimore. … They have lost six straight home games and are 12-17 at Citi Field this season. … The Mets have been shut out four times, all at home. … The Mets’ offense has scored one run in its last 24 innings. The Mets have scored two or fewer runs 21 times this season. … Brandon Nimmo lead off to start the game and has reached base safely in 14 of 29 leadoff appearances with a .483 on-base percentage in the first inning.