Mar 25

Viola To Have Heart Surgery, Unable To Continue As Pitching Coach

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York is reporting that former Cy Young winner Frank Viola is scheduled to undergo open-heart surgery next Wednesday and will be unable to serve as pitching coach of the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s.

Viola, 53, had a heart issue detected during his initial spring-training physical. Viola spent the past three seasons as a Class A pitching coach for the Mets.

Ron Romanick is expected to replace Viola as the pitching coach for the Pacific Coast League team.

Very sad to hear, my thoughts and prayers go out to him.

Mar 25

Lannan Taking Well To New Role

Adam Rubin of ESPN NY writes that left-hander John Lannan passed another test in his transition to a relief role, he entered mid-inning and inherited runners on base, for not only the first time in his career, but also the first time working on consecutive days.

Since switching roles, Lannan, has tossed two perfect innings in relief.

“That’s exactly how I envisioned it,” Collins said. “… I was glad we had the opportunity to get John in there with guys on base to face some lefties. That’s what I wanted. He did what he did yesterday. He came right at them, threw strikes and really had a good outing.”

“The adrenaline was definitely there today, more than yesterday, just because of the situation,” Lannan said. “I was still able to throw strikes. I faced two lefties in there, so it was a good experience.”

“It’s a start. It’s back-to-back days. I mean, it’s a hard thing to do. It’s going to be work, but I’m up for the challenge. The first two days have gone pretty well. I just have got to keep on learning and figure out a routine to be able to go out there back-to-back days on a consistent basis.”

If he continues to pitch this way once the season starts, the Mets could have one of the better bullpen’s in the National League, something that will help if they’re serious about competing for a wild card.

(Photo Credit: Howard Simmons/NY Daily News)

Mar 24

Flores Optioned To Minors

Wilmer Flores has been optioned to minor league camp and will begin the season with Triple-A Las Vegas along with Matt den DekkerKirk Nieuwenhuis and Zach Lutz.

The Mets will use Flores at shortstop and second base with Las Vegas to continue to gauge his worthiness, writes Adam Rubin.

“I feel good,” Flores said after receiving the news. “I did a great job. I’ll just wait for the opportunity to come again.”

Ruben Tejada is your starting shortstop.

Mar 22

Three Homers Power Mets To 10-2 Win Over Marlins

The Mets banged out 13 hits including three home runs to beat the Miami Marlins by a score of 10-2 on Saturday at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.

There were a lot of great story lines in this game for the Mets, but let’s begin with Travis d’Arnaud, who blasted a two-run homer against Miami Marlins lefthander Brad Hand. The home run snapped a hitless streak that had lasted 21 at-bats for the Mets Opening Day catcher.

Apparently, d’Arnaud and hitting coach Dave Hudgens spent some considerable time together on Friday and hopefully this was a sign that things will now improve for 25-year old backstop.

“I’m seeing the ball well,” d’Arnaud said. “I’m just over-swinging. Yesterday me and ‘Hudgy’ just worked on keeping my eye on the ball. If you keep your eye on the ball, you have a higher chance of succeeding than when you don’t see the ball hit the bat.”

More Highlights:

Perhaps the biggest star on the day was Bartolo Colon  who pitched all the way into the seventh inning and got the win. Colon tossed 6.2 innings and allowed two earned runs on five hits while walking none and striking out three. He threw over 80% of his pitches for strikes including 18 of them in a row at one point in the game. Collins was right – this guy is a strike-throwing machine. Additionally, Colon singled, drove in a run, and nearly beat out a grounder for an infield hit, much to the delight of the crowd who gave him a big ovation. This guy is going to be a lot of fun!

Wilmer Flores with a three hit, four RBI day that include a three-run shot – his second homer of the year. Flores leads the Mets in RBIs this Spring, but will likely begin the season in Triple-A Las Vegas. That’s unfortunate.

Ike Davis had his second big day in a row. After going 3-for-3 on Friday, Davis celebrated his 27th birthday by ripping a two-run homer off Marlins closer Steve Cishek. It was his second home run of the spring and he’s now 5-for-15 with four extra-base hits. Lucas Duda had the day off.

How about Chris Young? He reached base 5 times today and is having himself a fantastic spring. Young finished his day going 3-for-3 with a walk and two steals.

Eric Young Jr. batted leadoff and collected a single and a walk in four plate appearances while stealing a pair of bases including third.

Up Next:

The Mets play a pair of split squad games on Sunday. Jenrry Mejia opposes Washington Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark at 1:10 PM at Port St. Lucie, while John Lannan opposes Atlanta Braves right-hander Freddy Garcia at 1:05 PM at Disney.

Mar 20

Mets’ Pitching Updates: Gee Could Be Opening Day Starter With Niese To DL

They are called “probable’’ pitchers for a reason. It’s because anything can happen, and for the Mets they frequently do.

Injuries to his shoulder and now elbow bumped Jonathon Niese from his scheduled Opening Day start, and thrust Dillon Gee into that role. However, manager Terry Collins has not shut the door on Bartolo Colon.

The current plan is for Niese to open the season on the disabled list and not pitch him until April 6, the fourth game of the season against Cincinnati at Citi Field. He received a cortisone injection Monday to treat elbow inflammation.

Based on his consistency last season and leading the staff with 199 innings pitched, Gee is deserving of the honor of starting Opening Day, March 31, against Washington at Citi Field. Gee had been penciled in start the third game of the season, also against Washington, because of his 4-2 record with a 2.72 ERA last year against the Nationals.

Gee had career highs last year in: innings (199), starts (32), complete games (two), strikeouts (142) and ERA (3.62).

The Mets’ rotation to open the season figures to be: Gee, Colon and Zack Wheeler against the Nationals, followed by Daisuke Matsuzaka, Gee and Niese against Cincinnati.

The Nationals’ projected starters in the first series will be Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman.