Feb 27

All Eyes On Harvey Today

The longest journey begins with a single step and Matt Harvey will take another one today when he throws to hitters for the first time this spring. The toast of New York two years ago when he captured the town’s imagination with his blazing fastball and grit, will again have all eyes on him.

HARVEY: All eyes on him this morning. (AP)

HARVEY: All eyes on him this morning. (AP)

Harvey last pitched, Aug. 24, 2013, when he left in pain with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. Two months later, after much deliberation and against his initial hopes, he underwent elbow surgery.

Harvey’s rehab has included long-tossing, throwing off the mound – including to non-swinging hitters. Today, non-swinging batters will look back at him. However, as it was with Bobby Parnell on Thursday, the batters will just track pitches to give Harvey a feel for what it’s like.

Harvey told reporters: “How these things usually go is guys will stand in and kind of watch, monitor and track pitches – which guys did last year. I think once they start really getting the counts and have somebody behind there [umpiring], I think that’s when [the significance] will start.’’

Well, that’s totally not true, as it will be highly significant if Harvey walks off the mound this morning without any pain. The book on Harvey is he pushes the envelope and the last thing the Mets want is for him to push it beyond what is scheduled. He doesn’t need to prove he can still throw hard or drop off a 12-to-6 curveball.

Just get in, get out, get iced, answer the questions you’ve anticipated for nearly 18 months and prepare for your March 6 exhibition start against Detroit.

ON DECK:  What went on with Lucas Duda?

 

Feb 26

Mets Matters: Duda Out Longer Than Expected; Pitching Updates

He’s a Met and it’s an injury, so you know this isn’t the best news. Initially it was a strained oblique muscle and Lucas Duda wouldn’t be able to swing the bat for two or three days. The injury was subsequently re-diagnosed to be a strained left intercostal muscle and will be out for at least a week.

Reportedly, Duda has been dealing with the injury for a couple of weeks.

mets-matters logoHARVEY TO THROW FRIDAY: This is what we’ve been waiting for since he last pitched in August of 2013. Matt Harvey will throw to hitters for the first time Friday. Presuming he does well, he’ll make an exhibition start, March 6, against Detroit at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie.

PARNELL THROWS: Reliever Bobby Parnell threw to hitters Thursday. The batters stood in the box without swinging. Parnell told reporters: “It felt good to see some hitters in the box. It was a big step.’’

Parnell, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, will open the season on the disabled list.

EARLY SPRING ROTATION SET: Manager Terry Collins named his early exhibition rotation:

Dillon Gee and Jon Velasquez, (March 4); Bartolo Colon and Gabriel Ynoa, (March 5); Harvey and Noah Syndergaard, (March 6); Jacob deGrom, Matt Bowman, Steven Matz and Rafael Montero, (March 7 split squad game).

ON DECK: I will preview Harvey’s throw day tomorrow morning.

Feb 25

Bullpen Close To Being Set; Would Include Gee

For the first time in his tenure as Mets’ general manager, Sandy Alderson has his bullpen close to being intact heading into spring training. And, with his rotation set, the Mets have a sense of pitching comfort they haven’t had since 2006, the last time they made the playoffs.

This is good news.

Gee: Ticketed for pen.

Gee: Ticketed for pen.

It is paramount a team have a strong bullpen if it remotely has the chance of being a contender. I like the make-up of this pen as it is loaded with hard-throwing arms, even with Bobby Parnell not available until May.

Without Parnell, the Mets have a strong idea of the relievers they’ll take north. Ideally, they want another left-hander to go with Josh Edgin, but if that doesn’t materialize they likely would carry Dillon Gee.

With the uncertainty of Matt Harvey coming back from Tommy John surgery, and if history is an indicator, and the likelihood of getting short starts from Jon Niese and Zack Wheeler, there will be a need for a spot starter and long reliever as innings would need to be filled.

That’s three spots in the rotation that would call for Gee and Carlos Torres, and why Rafael Montero would be left out. There’s a strong possibility the pen would accumulate innings early in the season.

Montero us unproven working consistently out of the bullpen and should be to Triple-A Las Vegas until he would be needed, which is a possibility considering the Mets are shopping Gee and Bartolo Colon.

“You’re asking somebody to do something at the major league level that he hasn’t done very much of. And it’s important that we get out of the gate,’’ Collins told reporters about Montero. “Knowing that Bobby is going to be ready probably in the first part of May, I’m not sure where Raffy would fit in that bullpen coming out of spring training.

“If Dillon is there, we’ve only got one more spot left, and you might go with a little more experienced guy at the start of the season.’’

Joining Edgin, Gee and Torres are Jenrry Mejia as the closer replacing Parnell, followed by Jeurys Familia and Vic Black. That leaves one more. Scott Rice, perhaps?

In a perfect world, Familia would be the eighth-inning set-up man with Black available for the seventh if the starter can’t go that far.

Of course, that’s in a perfect world.

ON DECK: Don’t name an Opening Day starter now.

 

Feb 18

No Reason For Mets To Rush Parnell

There have been reports Bobby Parnell will regain his closer role when he’s activated from the disabled list roughly a month into the season. Parnell told reporters today in Port St. Lucie, “the ultimate goal when I go up there is to close.’’

PARNELL:  Treat with kid gloves. (AP)

PARNELL: Treat with kid gloves. (AP)

Although manager Terry Collins previously indicated that possibility, Parnell said he’s been promised nothing, which is the right way to go because there are too many unanswered questions.

What if Jenrry Mejia is pitching lights out at the time and the Mets are playing well? It would be foolish for Collins to disrupt the chemistry his team is building. It’s counter-productive for Collins to promise something he’d later reverse track on.

Many managers don’t like to commit to anything unless they absolutely must and there’s no reason for Collins to play his hand now. Collins has fallen into that trap before and must avoid it this time.

Parnell demonstrated promise at closing in 2013 with 22 saves, a 2.16 ERA and 1.000 WHIP. Mejia converted 28 save opportunities last year, but with a 3.65 ERA and less than impressive 1.484 WHIP. What was promising was his 98-41 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.

If Mejia stumbles in April, the Mets can go with Jeurys Familia or Vic Black. The Mets enter spring training with potentially their best bullpen in three years, especially if all four are on their games.

And, if Mejia, Familia and Black pitch well in April, there’s no point to rush back Parnell, especially when we don’t know how long it will take for him to work himself into pitching shape. Parnell wanting to be out there is not a good enough reason. Neither is his $3.7-million salary.

“Obviously I want to be there at the beginning of the year, but more importantly, I want to be there at the end of the year,’’ Parnell said. “If they feel like missing the beginning of the year is going to help me be there at the end, and be solid at the end, and help with the playoff push, then I’m all aboard on that.’’

This is something that doesn’t need to be decided until late April or early May. Anything before that is premature.

Feb 17

Mets Matters: Parnell’s Elbow An Issue

Undoubtedly, Bobby Parnell’s surgically repaired elbow will be the central topic when he addresses the media Wednesday morning.

mets-matters logoWhen will Parnell, who’s expected to open the season on the disabled list, be ready to dive into spring training?

ESPN reported Tuesday it might be up to three weeks, but that’s just speculation at this point. Hopefully, Parnell will shed more light Wednesday.

Currently, Jenrry Mejia is the choice to be the closer to open the season. When Parnell is activated Mejia’s role will change again.

“That’s Terry Collins’ job,’’ Mejia told reporters Tuesday. “That’s not my job. I’ve got to be out there and do the best I can. Whatever Terry Collins wants me to do, I’ve got to do. I’ll go out there. I’ll go to the bullpen, throw the seventh, ninth, eighth inning – whatever they want me to do.’’

BLACK HOPING FOR BETTER SPRING: Thought of as a closer in the future, Vic Black has the stuff for that role, but for now he has the simple ambition of just making it out of Port St. Lucie and to New York.

That wasn’t the case last season when his miserable spring training landed him to the minor leagues.

“There was a desire to finally break camp, finally start with a team,’’ Black told reporters. “I think now it’s understanding that the spring is a preparation for April.’’