Apr 06

Don’t Write Off Wright

A player with intense pride and a driving work ethic can’t be dismissed, which is what was being done to the Mets’ David Wright after his 0-for-4 night in the season opener. One of those at-bats was when he was caught looking in the ninth inning.

Wright also looked sluggish in the field, both moving in the field and his throwing.

WRIGHT: A lot to smile about Tuesday. (AP)

WRIGHT: A lot to smile about Tuesday. (AP)

Not surprisingly, there were numerous columns and radio commentaries about Wright being washed up, done in by his balky back which limited him to 10 spring training games and 29 at-bats. Wright said he didn’t care about the criticism, understanding it comes with the territory.

I’ve covered Wright for ten years and know how hard he works and how the criticism can sting. He works as hard as any athlete I’ve covered, and that includes Cal Ripken. When he’s hurting and can’t play as well as he would like it eats at him.

Last year was brutal.

Wright looked so much better in Tuesday’s 2-0 victory in Kansas City. He looked fluid in the field, and at the plate walked twice, singled and stole two bases. He said he felt much better and played the game on instincts.

“It feels good to just kind of play ‘reactionary,’ ” Wright told reporters. “That’s the goal – to just go out there and play the way I’ve always played. … The biggest thing for me is I want to play the game instinctively. I don’t want to think about [the back]. It helps to know I can get up and go hard. I can’t tell you how much fun this is.”

Manager Terry Collins said the steals were all instinct, that Wright understands a pitcher’s delivery time to the plate and how the infielders are positioned as well as the game situation. Above all, the steals told him Wright is feeling better, or at least he felt good against the Royals.

“If he was hurting, he wouldn’t have even tried,” Collins said. “It would have killed him to slide.”

It didn’t kill Wright Tuesday and the more days like that the better for him and the Mets. We can always hope.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Notebook 

Please follow me on Twitter.

 

Apr 06

Today In Mets’ History: Colon Gets OD Nod Against Nats

On this day in 2015, when the speculation was whether Jacob deGrom or Matt Harvey would get the Opening Day start in Washington, manager Terry Collins went with 41-year-old Bartolo Colon, which was at the time, and what proved to be the right choice.

COLON: Has proved to be invaluable. (Getty)

COLON: Has proved to be invaluable. (Getty)

Colon became the oldest Met pitcher to start an Opening Day and he responded by giving up one run on three hits in the 3-1 victory over the Nationals, beating Max Scherzer in the process.

The Mets signed Colon to a two-year, $20-million contract during the winter of 2013 as a stopgap after Harvey underwent Tommy John surgery. Colon won 15 games and worked 202.1 innings in 2014. Last year he won 14 more with 194.2 innings, however, in the wake of Noah Syndergaard and Steve Matz being promoted he was sent to the bullpen.

Colon, 218-154 lifetime, pitched well during the playoffs in relief and was rewarded with a $7.25 million extension. Colon will work as the fifth starter until Zack Wheeler is brought up sometime in July.

ON DECK: Don’t Write Off Wright

Please follow me on Twitter.

Apr 05

Mets Wrap: Syndergaard Stifles Royals

GAME #2:  Mets 2, at Kansas City 0.  Record: 1-1.

SUMMARY: Noah Syndergaard dominated with nine strikeouts in six innings and was backed by Neil Walker‘s two-run homer in the fourth. … The bullpen was flawless as it retired nine straight Royals to end the game. Jeurys Familia, who blew three save opportunities in the World Series, registered the save.

KEY MOMENT: Alcides Escobar tripled to lead off the game, but Syndergaard responded by striking out the next three hitters. Syndergaard also stranded runners in scoring position to end the fifth and sixth innings.

THOR DROPS HAMMER: Syndergaard was on his game as he struck out nine and gave up three hits with one walk in six scoreless innings. What he did in the first inning illustrated why he has Cy Young potential.

WALKER STRIKES EARLY: Walker had two hits, including a two-run homer in the fourth. Walker also drove in a run Sunday night.

WRIGHT IS RIGHT: Reports of his demise could be premature. David Wright walked twice, singled to right and stole two bases. He was also flawless in the field.

THUMBS UP: The bullpen was solid again. In his Mets’ debut, Jim Henderson struck out two in the seventh. … Addison Reed pitched a 1-2-3 eighth.

THUMBS DOWN: Michael Conforto, who reached base four times Sunday night, was hitless in four at-bats. … Three strikeouts by Curtis Granderson. … The Mets stranded three runners in the seventh and two in the eighth.

QUOTEBOOK: “He took a deep breath and realized he had to take it pitch-by-pitch.” – Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud on Syndergaard’s mindset after Escobar’s leadoff triple in the first.

BY THE NUMBERS: 12: strikeouts by Mets’ pitchers.

NEXT FOR METS: The Mets are off Wednesday and will face the Phillies in their home opener Friday.

Please follow me on Twitter.

Apr 05

Why Syndergaard Retaliation Was Off From The Start

Updated after Syndergaard’s performance Wednesday afternoon.

Not for a second did I buy into the idea the Royals planned retaliation against the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard for his buzz job past Alcides Escobar in Game 3 of last year’s World Series. Escobar has a reputation of going after the first pitch, and Syndergaard didn’t want him digging in and getting too comfortable.

SYNDERGAARD: Old School pitcher. (Getty)

SYNDERGAARD: Old School pitcher. (Getty)

The Royals did a lot of screaming from the dugout, and after the game Syndergaard said if they had a problem with him they knew where to find him, which is 60 feet, 6 inches, from the plate.

That was another brushback pitch.

Syndergaard brushed back the Royals entirely in Tuesday’s 2-0 stuffing as he struck out nine in six innings.

The game’s turning point came in the first inning when Escobar tripled to lead off, but Syndergaard responded by striking out the next three. It seemed whenever Syndergaard was in any trouble, he responded with heat. He struck out Kendrys Morales to end the sixth with a runner in scoring position.

Syndergaard was locked in all day, much the way he was focused when he faced Escobar in the World Series.

In March, a Newsday report stated the Royals were planning payback, which was off on two counts: 1) Escobar wasn’t hit, so there was nothing to retaliate against, and 2) if the Royals did have it in for Syndergaard, they certainly wouldn’t be dumb enough to announce it ahead of time.

Syndergaard recently said as much: “I don’t think they’re too fond of me, but as far as retaliation goes, I really don’t know what they’re going to retaliate against. All I did was establish the inner part of the plate. So I don’t know what this whole retaliation talk is all about. But it’s going to be an interesting time. … I simply threw a pitch on the inside corner. Elevated. A purpose pitch. I don’t really see how any retaliation could be made.”

It was during spring training. It was a slow news day. And, it was an interesting, juicy thought. But it simply didn’t make sense.

I’ll tell you why there is a buzz about this story. What Syndergaard did, trying to establish the inside part of the plate, is an old school concept, something people these days can’t grasp. Catchers get run over and hard slides take out infielders, so rules have to be changed.

Bryce Harper, a marvelous talent, but also clueless at times, said baseball needs life and has no problems with players expressing themselves with bat flips and celebrations. Another generation would respond to a bat flip with a knockdown pitch, something the current generation doesn’t understand.

Please follow me on Twitter.

Apr 05

April 5, Mets’ Lineup At Kansas City

We have Noah Syndergaard going against former Met Chris Young this afternoon in Kansas City.

Here is lineup for the Mets:

METS

Curtis Granderson, RF: Had great at-bat in the opener.

David Wright , 3B: Went an 0-for-4 in opener. I’m not giving up on him.

Yoenis Cespedes, CF: Let’s see if the “human” can do something positive today.

Lucas Duda, 1B: Had two-run single Sunday night.

Neil Walker, 2B: Drove in Mets’ third run Sunday.

Michael Conforto, DH: Reached base four times in opener.

Asdrubal Cabrera, SS: Thought he’d hit lower.

Travis d’Arnaud, C: Surprised to see him this low in order.

Alejandro De Aza, LF: Like that Collins is using him early.

Syndergaard, RHP: I’d be shocked if there was any retaliation.

ON DECK: Not buying retaliation theme. 

Please follow me on Twitter.