Mar 15

Re-Visiting Spring Training Questions

The Mets opened spring training with ten significant questions. A month later, let’s take a look at the status of those questions to see what progress the Mets have made in answering them:

Q: How healthy is Matt Harvey?

A: This is arguably the most important question of the season. So far, indications are positive regarding Harvey’s health. The Mets still don’t know how they’ll break down Harvey’s innings or where he will slot into the rotation.

HARVEY: So far healthy this spring.  (AP)

HARVEY: So far healthy this spring. (AP)

Q: Who breaks camp as the leadoff hitter?

A: This remains undecided, but it appears Juan Lagares is the frontrunner based on his speed. However, Lagares must still improve his on-base percentage and reduce his strikeouts. Curtis Granderson had some success hitting leadoff last year, but has more value hitting in the middle of the order.

Q: How healthy is David Wright?

A: A weak shoulder sapped Wright of his power last season and it wasn’t until Saturday when he hit his first homer of the spring. Improving their offense to complement the potential of their young pitching is largely dependent of Wright.

Q: What will be the rotation order?

A: This much we know: Harvey will pitch in one of the first five games. I am not totally sold on the notion Harvey won’t be the Opening Day starter. If not Harvey, I had been thinking about Bartolo Colon, but he’s been getting hammered. So, it is now up in the air, with possibly Jacob deGrom over Jon Niese – who I would slot in the middle of the rotation – and Zack Wheeler, who is bothered by a sore shoulder.

Q: Will Dillon Gee be traded?

A: The Mets wanted too much for Gee when they dangled him during the winter. With Wheeler ailing, the need to keep Gee has been enhanced. The Mets currently are thinking of using Gee out of the bullpen.

Q: How good is Wilmer Flores?

A: Flores needs a legitimate opportunity, and that includes sticking with him even if with a poor spring training. Flores is off to a good start offensively and has committed only two errors.

Q: What is the make-up of the bullpen?

A: Bobby Parnell and Josh Edgin will open the season on the disabled list. Jenrry Mejia will come out of spring training as the closer and Jeurys Familia as the set-up closer. The Mets currently have a handful of candidates to replace Edgin as the situational lefty.

Q: Will there be any additions?

A: It stands to reason the Mets will sign a free-agent lefty reliever if they are unable to trade for one. Once teams start making roster cuts there will be a flood of free agents.

Q: Who makes an impression?

A: None of the left possibilities have been impressive, which means Rafael Montero could steal a spot in the bullpen. GM Sandy Alderson said Steven Matz would not go to the bullpen to replace Edgin. Noah Syndergaard won’t make the rotation, even with Colon having a rough spring.

Q: Any injuries?

A: This is always the wild card. Edgin is lost for the season following Tommy John surgery. Lucas Duda missed three weeks with a strained intercostal muscle. And, there’s a lot left to the spring.

Mar 13

Mets Matters: Edgin Update; Wheeler Scratched: Mets Win Big

Mets lefty reliever Josh Edgin, as expected, sought a second opinion with Dr. James Andrews regarding Tommy John surgery. The MRI the Mets took will be sent to Andrews and examined. It will then be determined if Andrews needs to examine Edgin.

The current diagnosis is a stretched elbow irritated by a bone spur.

mets-matters logoEdgin told reporters Friday: “I’m looking at the second opinion as a mental thing to make the decision a little easier, whatever it may be. The best outcome is this rehab will work. I’m looking at it optimistically and prepared for both ends of the spectrum.’’

The worst-case scenario is surgery, but if it is done it should be shortly so Edgin is ready for next season.

WHEELER SCRATCHED: Zack Wheeler was scratched for Saturday’s start against Washington because of a tender elbow and blister.

Wheeler will not have an MRI.

Meanwhile, Vic Black underwent a MRI on his throwing shoulder.

Not sure why pictures were taken on Black and not Wheeler.

METS ROUT BRAVES: The Mets scored five runs in the first inning and Wilmer Flores hit a three-run homer in the third to power the Mets.

Flores’ homer was part of a 3-for-4 day. Curtis Granderson added two hits and Matt den Dekker walked three times.

Jon Niese started and struck out three in 3.2 innings.

LAWSUIT SETTLED: The Mets settled their lawsuit with Leigh Castergine, who was fired, Aug. 26, 2014, after four years of employment.

She alleged sexual harassment from COO Jeff Wilpon, claiming she was fired because Wilpon was “morally opposed’’ to her being unmarried and pregnant.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, and the parties stated in a joint statement: “The parties have decided to resolve this matter, which has brought more attention to the workplace environment for women in sports and will result in the organization being more attentive to the important issues raised by women in sports. Additionally, we are both committed to the further development and encouragement of female executives in our industry. Both sides? have agreed to have no further comments.’’

ROSTER MOVES: Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini, both first-round picks, and catching prospect Xorge Carrillo were reassigned to the minor league camp. … The Mets have 54 players in camp, including Bobby Parnell and Edgin, both of whom are ticketed for the disabled list.

Mar 11

Parnell Has Strained Hamstring

Mets closer Bobby Parnell remains sidelined. It was hoped Parnell, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, would return to the mound Wednesday.

That return has been delayed indefinitely with a strained left hamstring.

Caution is the approach, is what pitching coach Dan Warthen told reporters: “He’s got a little bit of a strain of a hamstring, and we don’t want to take any chances.’’

The Mets expect Parnell to open the season on the disabled list.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Notebook.

Mar 03

Wright Flashes Captain’s Bars To Syndergaard

David Wright gets it and always has. Now let’s see if the same can be said for Noah Syndergaard. The Mets’ captain reprimanded the young pitcher Tuesday for being in the clubhouse eating lunch instead of being on the bench for the intrasquad game.

Without getting in Syndergaard’s face, Wright let it be known Syndergaard’s place was in the dugout, not in an air-conditioned clubhouse. It’s something a team captain should do.

WRIGHT: Shows leadership skills. (AP)

WRIGHT: Shows leadership skills. (AP)

Syndergaard did not immediately move until Bobby Parnell picked up the rookie’s plate and dumped it in the trash.

Call that an exclamation point.

Wright is the captain for a reason, and that is to not only be a good example, but make sure his teammates understand.

“Being a young player, any chance you get to learn, you go out there and learn,’’ Wright told Newsday. “I’m not a big ranter and raver. When I get on somebody, it’s 99-percent private. I’m not going to yell and scream, but when I speak to somebody, when I get on somebody, the point needs to be taken.’’

The Mets have pointed to this year as when they could be competitive and possibly even challenge for the playoffs. Syndergaard is counted on to be a integral piece in the Mets’ development, and if he’s to become what they hope, he must learn how to win.

And, that includes learning the protocols of a clubhouse. If Syndergaard is to eventually be a leader, he can’t be if he’s eating in the clubhouse during a game – even an intrasquad game.

Wright was teaching. He showed Syndergaard there is a right way and a wrong way to being a teammate.

Syndergaard should have known better, but made a mistake. He said he didn’t think it was a big deal, and in the grand scheme of things, maybe it wasn’t. But, Syndergaard hasn’t been around long enough to make that decision.

Championship teams are built on little things, and that’s why Wright thought it was a big deal. Lecturing Syndergaard is as much a part of his job description as driving in runs and playing third base.

If he doesn’t step forward, then who will?

“I understand where David was coming from,’’ Syndergaard told Newsday. “We’re playing a team sport. I should be out there supporting my teammates.’’

Often, there is a mental turning point in a player’s career, as if a light switch was flipped. Maybe Wright turned it on for Syndergaard.

 

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?