Here’s today’s Mets lineup against Detroit at Lakleland.
Jordany Valdespin, 2b
Ruben Tejada, ss
Ike Davis, 1b
Lucas Duda, lf
Mike Baxter, rf
John Buck, c
Travis d’Arnaud, dh
Matt den Dekker, cf
Brandon Hicks, 3b
Jonathan Niese, lhp
LINEUP COMMENTS: The Mets are giving Valdespin every chance to make this team. His versatility helps him. He’s at second today and has played center and right this spring also. … Duda had three hits the other day against Houston. He’s in left today hitting behind Davis. I am wondering if Terry Collins will stack the two lefties during the season. … den Dekker again in center. He’s Mets’ best defensive outfielder, but they don’t know if he’ll hit enough. He has five hits, including a homer this spring.
Do not read into Zack Wheeler’s demotion that the Mets think Jenrry Mejia will replace Johan Santana on the roster and in the rotation.
When I asked Terry Collins of his preparation plans for life without Santana to start the season, the name Jeremy Hefner was only one to pop out. And, without hesitation.
MEJIA: May pitch today.
Collin McHugh, who was also demoted to the minor league camp, made spot starts last year and could be in position again if something were to develop with Hefner.
Mejia’s development this spring was hindered when he reported late because of a visa issue and was further delayed with the thyroid ailment. He is scheduled to open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas.
Pitchers start at two innings or 30 pitches and like to work up to seven innings and 100 pitches. There’s no way Mejia can build himself up to that with the time remaining in camp.
Mejia was on the travel squad this morning to Lakeland, where the Mets will play the Tigers again.
The Mets set back Mejia’s career when they rushed him to the majors as a reliever – there was no set relief role – then optioned him back to the minors as a starter at which time he injured his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery.
Even without the oblique injury, Zack Wheeler would be opening the season in the minor leagues, which was always the proper decision.
Maybe he wouldn’t have been sent down today with nine others, but as spring training goes on and the need to stretch out the starters increases, Wheeler’s innings would have been reduced, something the Mets did not want to happen.
WHEELER: Heading for Vegas.
Since he is better off getting regular innings, today’s demotion was inevitable. With the oblique hampering him, there’s no sense in trying to squeeze him in. He’s better off resuming a normal routine in the minor league camp, where he’ll throw in the bullpen again before getting into a game.
There’s always the possibility of Wheeler pitching in a “B” game, but for now he’s in the right place for his development. The Mets have long been accused of rushing pitchers – see Mike Pelfrey and Jenrry Mejia – and as they are building again they can’t afford to make a similar mistake with Wheeler, regardless how he feels.
“It’s the big leagues, of course I want to be here,’’ Wheeler said. “I’m not surprised. They told me this could happen.’’
Mets honored Bill Parcells before today’s game against St. Louis with an autographed No. 13 jersey (for the year of his induction into the Hall of Fame).
Bill Parcells and Terry Collins (Mets)
I met Parcells several years ago when I was advancing a Browns-Giants game for a Cleveland paper. Parcells seemed pleasant at the press conference, even thought I introduced myself as a Cleveland writer.
An hour later I was sitting in an end zone seat talking to a Giants writer while watching practice in the Meadowlands.
There was a shrill whistle. There are always whistles at football practices so I didn’t pay it any attention.
Then I heard this voice shouting, “Cleveland, Cleveland).’’
I looked up to see Parcells at about the 40. He was walking and waving his arm while screaming, “Cleveland, Cleveland, get out of here.’’
I had just been kicked out of a Giants practice. Yet, another brush with greatness.
Zack Wheeler was one of the ten the Mets re-assigned to the minor league camp this morning.
In addition to Wheeler, also sent down were: Collin McHugh, Gonzalez Germen, Darin Gorski, Elvin Ramirez, Wilfredo Tovar, Hansel Robles, Juan Lagares, Cesar Puello and Reese Havens.
WHEELER: Sent down today.
The highly-touted prospect acquired from San Francisco for Carlos Beltran two years ago expressed disappointment, but not surprise at the demotion. After all, GM Sandy Alderson has said several times Wheeler would not be rushed.
“I expected it,’’ said Wheeler. “They told me this at the start of spring training.’’
Wheeler, who has been sidelined with a strained oblique, threw off the mound this morning at Port St. Lucie.
Pitching coach Dan Warthen spoke with Wheeler this morning to offer some homework advice.
“I told him to work on his secondary pitches and fastball command on both sides of the plate,’’ Warthen said.
Here’s today’s lineup against the Cardinals:
Marlon Byrd, rf
Justin Turner, 2b
Collin Cowgill, cf
Lucas Duda, dh
Andrew Brown, lf
Brandon Hicks, 3b
Zach Lutz, 1b
Landon Powell, c
Omar Quintanilla, ss
Shaun Marcum, rhp