Mar 27

March 27.10: Takahashi starts today; looking at the pen.

When the Mets signed Hisanori Takahashi after his ten years with the Yomiuri Giants, there was little doubt he’d be on their staff, most likely as a starter.

After a strong start Jerry Manuel said there would be a spot for him, but with prospect Jon Niese recovered from a hamstring injury and performing well, the Mets are looking are at using him out of the bullpen, giving them a second lefty to Pedro Feliciano.

Pencil Takahashi into the bullpen, even though he’ll start today.

“Takahashi is fun,” pitching coach Dan Warthen said earlier this spring. “He very seldom hits the middle of the plate. He changes speeds. He recognizes swings, works both sides of the plate extremely well.’’

Takahashi’s ball cuts and sinks, giving the Mets an option to come in and get the double play, something they’ve lacked since Chad Bradford in 2006.

The dynamics of the make-up of a pitching staff are interesting. Niese puts Takahashi in the pen, and Kelvim Escobar’s injury led to several scenarios. Escobar was to be the eighth inning set-up reliever, but that could go to Takahashi now. It could go to Fernando Nieve or to somebody else. It won’t got to Pedro Feliciano.

The Mets will carry seven relievers with only closer Francisco Rodriguez and situational lefty Feliciano givens with defined roles.

Ryota Igarashi and Kiko Calero have been impressive, and that leaves one spot unaccounted for.

For much of the spring we heard it could be Jenrry Mejia, but it seems he’s ticketed to the minor leagues.

Who gets the final spot?

Do they relent with Mejia, or give it to Bobby Parnell, Sean Green or Nelson Figueroa?

The path of least resistance would be Figueroa for the following reasons: 1) if Mejia won’t be the eighth-inning guy he’s better off getting consistent work in the minors, 2) Mejia, Green and Parnell all have options remaining, and 3) with the Mets’ rotation suspect there would appear to be opportunities for an innings-eating long-man.

That’s Figueroa.

“We know that he’s capable of throwing three innings a day and then come back if somebody’s losing it and throwing again,’’ Manuel said. “He has shown us that he can handle the big leagues. Whatever role we decide for him, he throws strikes. He’ll be fine.’’

Prior to yesterday’s disastrous start Figueroa had pitched well, and his demeanor and talents are better suited for the mop-up role. The irony of it is that Figueroa isn’t good enough to make the rotation, but the questions in the rotation might give him a chance to stick.

Mar 25

March 25.10: Niese fifth starter favorite.

It is by no means a given, but Jon Niese has emerged as the frontrunner to be the team’s fifth starter. Jerry Manuel said yesterday Niese has the inside track over Fernando Nieve, Nelson Figueroa and Hisanori Takahashi.

At one point this spring, I thought Takahashi was the favorite, but moved off that because he didn’t have enough innings to be sufficiently stretched out. The path of least resistance would have been to option Niese because he has options remaining, but he has pitched well enough to warrant a chance and there are other variables.

Most specifically, the sad state of the Mets’ bullpen. Niese couldn’t help out in the pen, but both Nieve as a long man and Takahashi as a left-hander fill two roles. Odd man out, as expected, is Figueroa.

Figueroa will pass through waivers then re-sign with the Mets and be pitching around June. Personally, I hope somebody claims him and he gets a chance to pitch.

Mar 20

March 20.10: Grooming Mejia?

It would be nice if the Mets would just come out and say it with Jenrry Mejia, but things don’t work that way. However, Jerry Manuel has given a good indication the Mets are considering him for this year out of the bullpen right out of the gate.

Mejia pitched yesterday, and is also scheduled to work today against the Cardinals out of the pen. It will be the first time he’s worked this season on consecutive days – always a test for a reliever – and it is coming off a bad outing, which is another test.

John Maine gets the start today, and it will be interesting to see how he does. Maine was hammered in his last appearance, which was out of the pen, and later he said he “wasn’t into it.” Here’s hoping he’s into it today.

Here’s today’s lineup:

Gary Matthews, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Fernando Tatis, 3B
Mike Jacobs, 1B
Fernando Martinez, RF
Alex Cora, SS
Jason Pridle, LF
Chris Coste, C
John Maine, RP

Mar 10

March 10.10: Reyes update/line-ups.

Jose Reyes has a case of hyperthyroidism, said his agent, Peter Greenberg said. “We’re waiting for the final results tomorrow,’’ Greenberg told the Times. “But, all indications are that it’s the most minimal case of hyperthyroidism possible. The doctor is very pleased and so is Jose.’’

Reyes later told reporters that his thyroid is fine. I don’t believe this is two different stories as much as it is Reyes getting positive news and downplaying things.

Reyes could resume working out in a few days.

For the all the criticism the Mets have received about injuries, they did well here. Reyes was pulled immediately at the suspicion of something wrong and were forthright in giving information.

Positive news on Francisco Rodriguez. Threw in the bullpen this morning and will throw BP Friday. If all goes well look for him Monday.

Jon Niese, who has the leg up on the fifth starter position, starts today against the Braves in Orlando.

Here’s the line-up:

Jason Pridie, CF

Ruben Tejada, 2B

Daniel Murphy, 1B

Mike Hessman, 3B

Chris Carter, DH

Omir Santos, C

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, RF

Jolbert Cabrera, LF

Russ Adams, SS

Working out of the pen will be Fernando Nieve, Nelson Figueroa, Bobby Parnell, Eddie Kunz and Eric Niesen.

Mar 06

March 6.10: What about Kunz?

Mike Pelfrey is pitching this afternoon for the Mets, but I’m more interested today in Eddie Kunz, the guy who was supposed to be the Mets closer after Billy Wagner.

With the bullpen in shambles in 2008, Kunz got a look-see and disappointed. Kunz, 24 next month, also pitched poorly early this week against the Braves, walking three and retiring only one of the six batters he faced. He gave up four runs, and while one outing won’t determine his fate, it has been awhile since we’ve seen something positive from Kunz other than the scouting reports.

“He’s got great stuff,’’ manager Jerry Manuel said. “His ball moves. It’s powerful sink.’’

Yes, the scouting report reads the same as it did when he came out of Oregon State, but the results haven’t been there, and the Mets, a team in need of a bullpen, are moving on without him.

Names are bandied about, and Jenrry Mejia is the flavor of the month, but nobody talks about Kunz anymore.

Spring training is for new beginnings, and for Kunz it could be about last chances.