Mar 06

Harvey Gets The Ball

While it is cold and snowy in New York, but today marks the real start of baseball season because Matt Harvey will make his first appearance in a game since Aug. 24, 2013.

He walked off that game against Detroit with pain in is right elbow that two months later required Tommy John surgery. By coincidence, he’s facing the Tigers again Friday.

HARVEY: All eyes on him today. (AP)

HARVEY: All eyes on him today. (AP)

Harvey blew a lot of smoke leading up to this start, telling reporters: “I’m looking at it as getting ready for a season. I’m not really putting any extra pressure on that there isn’t anyway. I’m looking at it as getting work done and preparing for a season like nothing has ever happened.’’

LOL. That’s rich. A quick show of hands please. How many actually believe that? Thought so …

Harvey isn’t fooling anybody. He literally begged the Mets to pitch last season, but GM Sandy Alderson held the course, which was the right thing to do.

Harvey is scheduled to throw 35 pitches over two innings – 40 tops – and it wouldn’t be natural if the adrenalin weren’t flowing full course. He’s as anxious as anybody to find out about his elbow.

Even pitching coach Dan Warthen anticipates Harvey’s competitive nature – which makes him a special prospect – to surface. It’s unavoidable, he said: “There’s no way you’re ever going to dial Matt down. It’s competition. He’s going to do everything he can to get that person out. So he’s not going to dial it down.’’

While the Mets have been pointing to Harvey’s return as the driving force for their drive to the playoffs, let’s be sure about one thing, and that is he is still a prospect with only 36 career starts, 178.1 innings and just 12 victories.

In the grand scheme of things, that’s not even one full season.

But, there’s a lot of pressure and angst tied into this start.

It’s only natural.

 

Mar 05

Wheeler Responds To Nats’ Harper

I wouldn’t have expected anything less from Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler, and from Bryce Harper, either. Sure, the Nationals’ outfielder was giddy about his team getting Max Scherzer and why shouldn’t he?

WHEELER: Responds to Harper.

WHEELER: Responds to Harper.

“To be able to have a guy like Scherzer come in? I just started laughing,’’ Harper told reporters. “I was like, ‘Where’s my ring?’ You know what I mean? It’s stupid. It’s absolutely stupid how good our staff is.’’

I would have hoped he’d have that confidence in his team.

As for Wheeler, it wasn’t exactly talking smack according to professional wrestling or NBA standards, but the soft-spoken Met had something to say.

“I guarantee you we all saw what Bryce Harper said,’’ Wheeler told the New York Daily News. “He said, ‘give me my ring… we’re going to make it hard for him to get that ring, I’ll guarantee you that.’’

Wheeler isn’t a braggart, but I was glad to see him exhibit some spine. I wouldn’t want to have seen anything less from him.

It’s good he’s thinking that way, but if the Mets are to challenge Washington, much less compete in the NL East, they must do better than going 4-15 against the Nationals.

ON DECK: Daniel Murphy to go on ESPN to tell his side.

Mar 05

Lay Off Daniel Murphy

Unfortunately, things developed as I anticipated for Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy after his response to a reporter’s question of potentially having a gay teammate.

The topic arose when GM Sandy Alderson invited former major leaguer Billy Bean to address the Mets on inclusion. Bean admitted after his career he was gay.

MURPHY: Honest answer.

MURPHY: Honest answer.

As a reporter, I welcome it when a player gives an honest, well reasoned answer to a question, which is what Murphy did when asked about Bean.

What, Alderson didn’t think his players wouldn’t be asked?

“I disagree with his lifestyle,’’ Murphy told reporters. “I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him. I don’t think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect.

“Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them, but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent.

“Maybe, as a Christian … we haven’t been as articulate enough in describing what our actual stance is on homosexuality. We love the people. We disagree [with] the lifestyle. That’s the way I would describe it for me.’’

What is so wrong about that answer? It was the best possible response. Murphy expressed his beliefs, which is his right as much as it was Bean’s right to state his. Most importantly, Murphy said he would accept a gay teammate simply because he was a teammate.

Isn’t that what acceptance is all about?

This was part of a major league directive. What is the intent? Is it beneficial to introduce a potentially divisive issue into the clubhouse?

A baseball team is comprised of players, but they are also human beings. Each having their own beliefs, opinions and follow their own moral compass.

Bean said what he believed and Murphy did the same, which is the ultimate display of free-flowing ideas.

However, Murphy’s thoughts have been criticized, which unfortunately is what one expects in this era of political correctness.

ON DECK: Zack Wheeler talks smack … sort of.

 

 

Mar 04

No Worries As Gee Has Rocky Start

The day was for the Mets to showcase Dillon Gee, and the impression wasn’t a good one.

GEE: Rough start.

GEE: Rough start.

Gee got into immediate trouble when the Braves loaded the bases with no outs before giving up two runs in a 28-pitch first inning. Gee settled down to throw a 1-2-3 seven-pitch second inning.

The second is what Gee will take out of his outing, and hopefully he’ll learn from the first.

“I didn’t start the way I wanted to, walking two guys,” Gee told reporters. “Your adrenaline starts pumping a little bit more with a guy in there than it does when you’re throwing a bullpen. So I felt a little off.”

While Gee wishes he pitched better, in the big picture any team interested won’t be swayed by his performance.

Gee, the sixth Mets’ starter, is slated to open the season working in long relief if he isn’t traded. Trades this early in spring training aren’t common as teams want to first evaluate their roster before making any additions.

If Gee is traded, that’s almost four weeks away.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Today’s notes.

Mar 04

Wright’s Apology Speaks Volumes

David Wright did the right thing when he lectured Noah Syndergaard for eating lunch in the clubhouse when his teammates were playing an intrasquad game.

WRIGHT: Stands up.

WRIGHT: Stands up.

Wright also did the correct thing Wednesday when he apologized to Syndergaard when the easy thing would have been not to have say anything. Wright already had the backing of manager Terry Collins, his teammates – including Syndergaard, who admitted he made a mistake – and most people who know anything about the dynamics of a team sport.

When Wright confronted Syndergaard, he did so unaware of several reporters standing nearby. That was his mistake.

“I didn’t notice the media was within earshot,’’ Wright told reporters. “So that’s what I apologized to Noah for. Now he has to answer questions; I have to answer questions; Terry has to answer questions. That’s not the way that I like to handle things. I wasn’t aware of my surroundings.’’

It’s about accountability, and that includes for the captain, also. Wright can’t justify getting on a teammate for making a mistake if he can’t stand up himself when he does the same.

It’s all part of doing the right thing.

ON DECK:  Dillon Gee rocked.