Apr 10

Mets Wrap: Concern For DeGrom, Not Team

If you’re concerned about Jacob deGrom, fine, you should be. However, if you’re worried about the Mets’ sluggish start, it’s way too early to panic, although we all knew that after another loss fans would get antsy. It will be interesting to listen to the call-in radio shows tomorrow.

DeGROM: Next start is scratched. (AP)

DeGROM: Next start is scratched. (AP)

Prior to the game, the Mets announced deGrom will miss his Wednesday’s start because of tightness in his right lat. The Mets toyed with the idea of waiting until deGrom threw today, but when he reported continued soreness they did the prudent thing and scratched Wednesday’s start and said Logan Verrett would get the ball.

Hooray for common sense.

Steven Matz had a similar injury last year and was lost for two months. We heard all winter the essence of the Mets was their young pitching, and if they stayed healthy they should return to the playoffs.

Of course, this being the Mets, common sense has its limitations. There are still no plans for deGrom to undergo an MRI. I’ll say it again, that’s just not smart.

In deGrom, the Mets will be without a workhorse, but I would rather not have him for six innings Wednesday than lose him for two months or more.

“It’s improved, but not enough,” manager Terry Collins said.

Verrett was superb when he replaced Harvey last summer in Colorado. Other possibilities should deGrom’s injury be worse than anticipated are Sean Gilmartin and Rafael Montero. But for now, they need to get quality innings from Noah Syndergaard, Matz, Bartolo Colon and Harvey. They didn’t get them today from Harvey, who gave up three runs on six hits and two walks in six innings.

The key word was “quality,” and Harvey didn’t have it for his second start. However, I’m not worried about Harvey. He’s healthy. He was simply beaten, and will be beaten again. But, unless his elbow starts to bark, I’m not thinking about Harvey.

The problem has been the offense. Yoenis Cespedes homered today to break a 15-inning scoreless stretch. But, the Mets aren’t getting anything from Lucas Duca, Curtis Granderson and Travis d’Arnaud. Actually, other than Michael Conforto and Neil Walker at the start of the week, they haven’t gotten much from anybody.

Yup, the Mets aren’t off to the start they hoped, and we all expected them to win the series against the Phillies. But, it has only been five games.

Unless there’s bad news about deGrom, just relax.

Here’s what happened today:

GAME #5:  Phillies 5, at Mets 2.  Record: 2-3.

SUMMARY: After the news about deGrom, the Mets’ offense was supposed to rally around Harvey. Maybe next time. Harvey clocked at 97 mph., in his first appearance on the mound since Game 5 of the World Series. It wasn’t as if Harvey was mauled as he gave up a run on a sacrifice fly and later a two-run homer to Odubel Herrera.

KEY MOMENT: Herrera’s homer.

THUMBS UP: Cespedes homered and singled to show breakout signs. … Reliever Jim Henderson continued to perform and now has seven strikeouts in three perfect innings.

THUMBS DOWN: Pretty much everything else. … Granderson is 1-for-20. … The Mets had four hits Sunday after getting just three Saturday. … Harvey is now 0-for-2 with a 4.63 ERA.

INJURY UPDATES: No word as to when deGrom will throw next. DeGrom will remain with the Mets until wife Stacey delivers. She is five days late. … Lefty relieverJosh Edgin gave up one run in two-thirds of an inning in a rehab assignment in the Florida State League. Edgin’s projected return date in May 1. … Zack Wheeler is scheduled to have a minor surgical procedure Tuesday to remove an undissolved stitch in his right forearm. Wheeler’s return date is July 1.

QUOTEBOOK: “I would say it’s quite a bit better today. I think we’re going to err on the side of caution, though, this early in the season.” – deGrom on his lat injury.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1.29: Mets ERA, fourth best in the NL;  .192: Mets batting average, second worst in NL?

NEXT FOR METS: Matz will make his first start of the season Monday against Miami at Citi Field.

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Apr 09

Mets Should Do The Smart Thing And Skip DeGrom

We have long been aware of the Mets’ hit-and-miss nature in their handling of injuries. They could be on the verge of making another mistake as manager Terry Collins said Jacob deGrom‘s next start is up in the air. He told reporters today no MRI is planned for deGrom’s tight right lat muscle.

DeGROM: Needs to skip next start. (AP)

DeGROM: Needs to skip next start. (AP)

DeGrom wasn’t in a talkative mood this afternoon with reporters, but the word it is still very sore.

Collins said if deGrom doesn’t show substantial improvement and throw his between-starts bullpen Sunday, he would likely be scratched from Wednesday’s start against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field.

Who hasn’t heard this refrain from the Mets about one of their injured players? They did it with Matt Harvey in 2013 and last season with Steven Matz. Neither one of those gambles turned out well. They’ve also mishandled injuries with David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Church and many others.

It’s cold today and will probably be likewise Wednesday. DeGrom complained of back tightness in spring training. None of the Mets’ starters worked significant innings this spring. Plus, they have other options available.

DeGrom is a vital key to whatever success the Mets have this year. What could be their possible reasoning in not wanting deGrom get an MRI? You would think they would want to know as much about deGrom’s injury as possible.

If tonight’s game gets bagged, Collins could push his starters back a day. But, why don’t they do the smart thing and just say now they will skip deGrom until the injury risk is greatly reduced? Injuries can always happen, but what’s the point of pushing the envelope on this?

They should just say they are resting deGrom and do the right thing now.

Why is that such a hard thing for them to figure out?

ON DECK: Mets Game Wrap: Game #4 vs. Phillies.

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Apr 08

My Favorite Opening Day Memories

Major League Baseball always talks about the need to market itself, especially to the younger generation. A national Opening Day could be a good first step. A good second step would be for school districts around the country to shut it down for a day when their hometown team plays its home opener.

I don’t know how to go about it, but if I had a son or daughter I would take them out of school to go to Opening Day. That’s what my late father did on April 7, 1970, when he took my brother and I out of school for the day to watch the Indians on Opening Day against Baltimore.

Dave McNally against Sam McDowell. Damn, that was a good matchup.

Despite his note, the school did not approve, but he took us out anyway. His reason was we would take more from being at that game with him than anything we would have learned that day in class.

He was right. Baseball was very big in our home, and it still is in our family. That’s how you cultivate the fans of tomorrow.

Looking back, he was right, and it is one of my fondest memories of him.

My dad got it 46 years ago. I wonder how many fathers around the country will it today and take their kids to Citi Field.

My other favorite Opening Day memory was last year. I had been hurt the year before and spent nearly seven months in a hospital and didn’t go to the park for an Opening Day for the first time since 1988. I remember watching on TV from the hospital and promised myself I would go the next year.

Which, I did. There was a sense of accomplishment I will always remember.

I’ve watched on television Opening Days since 1966, but the memories of plays are scattered. Both those two memories were personal and that’s why I remember them vividly. To me, baseball’s Opening Days are about being personal, about who you watched them with and the circumstances in your life at the time.

So, what about you? What are your favorite Opening Day memories?

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Mar 09

Why I Will Always Miss My Friend Shannon

At the end of the movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” were the words you can judge a person’s worth by the number of friends they have. If that’s an accurate measure, then Shannon Forde is one of the richest people I ever met.

Hundreds of her family, friends and colleagues honored her life this afternoon in a memorial service at Citi Field. They all left saddened by her passing last Friday from breast cancer, but also grateful for having known her and her being in their lives. I don’t think there was a person there who don’t believe their lives weren’t enriched by knowing her/

Goodbye, Shannon.

Goodbye, Shannon.

So many words have been so eloquently written and spoken about Shannon over the past few days. Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record and David Lennon from Newsday wrote especially moving remembrances. They wrote pieces that when her children, Nick and Kendall, read in twenty years, will gain a greater appreciation of what she meant to those in the baseball community and how special their mom was to so many.

To the Mets players – David Wright said she was the team mom – and to those in the media, who combined made countless demands on her time that she always met with a smile, she was a rock. There were so many media members who no longer cover the Mets who made their way to Citi Field. That’s the kind of impression she made on people.

To the hundreds at Citi Field today that paid their respects, they learned more about her as a mother, wife, friend and colleague through the beautiful remembrances from team vice president Jay Horwitz and Wright, who said the championship belt given each player after every victory this year will have a shamrock and pink ribbon in her memory.

Horwitz and Wright spoke how Shannon touched their lives; Klapisch and Lennon, and others in the media wrote the same.

I first met Shannon when I covered the Yankees, but it didn’t matter, she was always helpful. I got to know her better when I moved to the Mets’ beat. I didn’t work for The New York Times, but she treated me with the same courtesy and respect as the writers from the bigger papers.

When I left the beat and covered the team on this blog, she still treated me with the same courtesy and respect she did when I worked for the paper.

I relayed this story to Wright and Klapisch this afternoon and both said that was just like her. That she was, in a word, “genuine.”

Mar 06

Why Utley’s Suspension Was Dropped

Mets’ fans won’t be pleased with this, but Chase Utley‘s two-game suspension was dropped by Major League Baseball. Utley was suspended for his aggressive take-out slide in Game 2 of the NLDS that broke Ruben Tejada‘s right leg.

Baseball’s policeman, Joe Torre, called the slide illegal for being a “rolling block” occurring away from the base. The suspension resulted from an outcry by Mets’ fans and New York media, and I believe was issued to avoid an ugly scene when the NLDS moved to Citi Field.

Utley appealed – as was his right – and didn’t play in the games in New York.

TEJADA: Suspension dropped. (AP)

TEJADA: Suspension dropped. (AP)

Here’s why I think the suspension was dropped:

* The umpire’s have discretion to eject a player if they deem it to be a dirty play and they did not.

* There was a take-out rule already in place dictating the runner must be able to reach the bag with his foot or hand and apparently the umpires believed this to be the case with Utley. (watch video)

* Replays showed Wilmer Flores‘ throw put Tejada in an awkward position, one in which he turned into Utley’s slide. This was not the runner’s fault.

* That Utley did not play in the two New York games could be viewed as a de facto suspension.

* Reaction among those in MLB is mixed between dirty and just aggressive. There was hardly a consensus in either position.

* MLB adopted a new rule on break-up slides.

When asked about the suspension Sunday, Tejada told reporters: “I don’t care really. I don’t care. I care about me. I’m healthy here. I’m happy here. So I don’t care about what’s going to happen there or what’s the decision they take there.”

Said Mets GM Sandy Alderson: “The most important thing is that the rule was changed.”