Mar 11

Revisiting Mets’ Primary Spring Training Issues

On the first day of spring training, I posed five Mets manager Terry Collins needed to answer by Opening Day. Now, halfway through – 20 days remaining to be exact – it is time to revisit those questions, which haven’t been done in the positive:

Q: WHO WILL BE THE FIFTH STARTER?
A: Ideally, they wanted Jenrry Mejia but his elbow remains an issue, and there’s a chance he could open the season in the bullpen or the minor leagues. Either way, the fifth starter role isn’t imminent. Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan are candidates. Without Mejia, Matsuzaka appeared to have the inside track, and that’s likely to remain. With lefty reliever Josh Edgin sent to the minor league camp, Lannan will get time working in relief (there will be a separate post on that later today).

PARNELL: Said he'll be ready (AP)

PARNELL: Said he’ll be ready (AP)

Q: WILL BOBBY PARNELL BE READY BY OPENING DAY?
A: Parnell, recovering from neck surgery, insists he’ll be ready, but he’s only made one appearance. Collins would like to give him at least seven or eight. Assuming Parnell is ready, Vic Black will get the set-up role, but his control hasn’t been good. Veterans Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde are competing for jobs in the bullpen and both have closer experience.

Q: WILL THE IKE DAVIS SAGA EVER END?
A: Not any time soon. The Mets tried to trade Davis since October, but their asking price was too high. Davis kept tabs on the rumors and acknowledged he is surprised to be in Port St. Lucie. He began camp the projected starter, but it hasn’t been a good spring. First, he acknowledged he hid an oblique strain last year to avoid the appearance of making an excuse. The following day he ripped into the reporter who had the audacity to write what Davis said. Next was tightness in both calves, caused by too much work in the weight room. He’s currently in a walking boot. About those 90-plus at-bats Collins wanted? Not happening. He’ll likely start the season on the disabled list.

Q: CAN RUBEN TEJADA BECOME THE PLAYER EXPECTED OF HIM?
A: That doesn’t look promising, either. Tejada has a strained hamstring and his defense has not been good. He’s also not hitting. The Mets aren’t close to signing free-agent Stephen Drew or trading for Seattle’s Nick Franklin. Wilmer Flores started today at shortstop and could get more time.

Q: WHO WILL BE THE LEADOFF HITTER?
A: Collins prefers Eric Young, who missed several games with tightness in his side. Collins prefers Daniel Murphy second and Tejada – if he plays – down in the order. Currently, it appears it will come down between Eric or Chris Young. The latter, however, strikes out too much to be a successful leadoff hitter. If Eric Young gets the job, we should see Juan Lagares in the minor leagues instead of languishing on the bench.

ON DECK: Lannan in the bullpen.

Mar 11

Today’s Mets’ Lineup Against Cardinals

Jonathon Niese makes his first start of the spring after dealing with a dead arm and Wilmer Flores will get the start at shortstop.

Here’s the lineup:

Eric Young Jr., lf
Juan Lagares, cf
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, rf
Josh Satin, 3b
Matt Clark, 1b
Travis d’Arnaud, c
Andrew Brown, dh
Wilmer Flores, ss
Omar Quintanilla, 2b

Jonathon Niese, lhp

ON DECK: What to make of Mets’ spring training so far.

Mar 11

Mets Today: Jon Niese Gets The Ball

Left-hander Jonathon Niese, the Mets’ projected Opening Day starter, will make his spring debut against St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright.

NIESE: Makes spring debut (AP)

NIESE: Makes spring debut (AP)

Niese complained of a dead arm early in camp and the weakness was revealed in a MRI taking in New York, Feb. 26.

Niese threw two innings in an intrasquad game last Thursday and reported no pain or discomfort.

“It’s a great feeling to go out there and not feel any pain in your shoulder,’’ Niese said that day. “It was a great step forward to go out on the mound and feel very close to 100 percent.’’

In addition:

* Ike Davis, as you know, is hobbling in a walking boot on his right foot and isn’t ready to do anything.

* Will today be the day Wilmer Flores starts at shortstop?

* Daniel Murphy (bruised right shin) remains day-to-day.

* Lucas Duda hit in the cage Monday. Perhaps he could graduate to batting practice today?

* Here’s the rest of the week: Wednesday, St. Louis; Thursday, at Washington Nationals; Friday, at Miami Marlins; Saturday, Minnesota (SS) and Chicago Cubs at Las Vegas; Sunday, at St. Louis Cardinals and Cubs at Las Vegas.

ON DECK:   What to make of Mets’ spring training so far.

Mar 10

Mets Wrap: Davis Not Close; Mets Routed; Roster Cuts

There is more discouraging news about the Mets’ Ike Davis, who is wearing a walking boot on his right foot and doesn’t expect to play for at least another week.

Inexplicably, Davis hasn’t had a MRI, and to compound matters, took a swipe at the media, saying: “Obviously I could have went out there and blown out and dealt with more articles about not saying it’s hurt.’’

Of course, that was in reference to him saying he hid an oblique injury last season.

With three weeks until Opening Day, Davis won’t get close to the 90-plus at-bats the Mets hoped and appears he’ll likely open the season on the disabled list.

In addition:

* Bartolo Colon worked four innings and gave up three runs on five hits in an 11-1 rout by the Marlins. Offensively, the Mets managed six hits and struck out ten times.

* Dillon Gee threw four scoreless innings in a “B’’ game with Miami.

* Las Vegas manager Wally Backman interviewed to manage the Dominican winter-league team, Aguilas Cibaenas.

* Lefty-reliever Josh Edgin was in the first round of roster cuts, leaving the Mets with Scott Rice as the only lefty in the bullpen. It is possible John Lannan could give the Mets another lefty. Also optioned were left-handers Steven Matz and Adam Kolarek; pitchers Erik Goeddel, Logan Verrett and Chasen Bradford; catcher Kevin Plawecki; infielders Danny Muno, Wilfredo Tovar and Dustin Lawley; and outfielders Brandon Nimmo and Cory Vaughn.

 

Mar 10

Mets Routed By Marlins, 11-1.

Bartolo Colon worked four innings today for the Mets, giving up three runs on five hits in an 11-1 rout by the Marlins. Colon was followed by five relievers, with only Scott Rice expected to make the 25-man Opening Day roster.

“It was meaningful,’’ Colon told reporters through an interpreter. “I was happy I was able to locate my pitches today and was able to pitch well.’’

It was Colon’s first outing of the spring.

Jack Leathersich gave up two runs, including a homer to Giancarlo Stanton. The worst outing was by Ryan Ried, who gave up four runs on six hits to the nine batters he faced.

In what hopefully isn’t a sign of things to come, the Mets loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning, but Curtis Granderson, Josh Satin and Travis d’Arnaud all struck out.

Collectively, they struck out ten times.

ON DECK: Mets Wrap.