Oct 05

Wright Has Back Surgery; Bruce Homers For Indians

David Wright remains as determined as ever to return and took another step today after undergoing back surgery in Los Angeles. Wright underwent a laminectomy procedure which designed to relieve pressure caused by a compressed nerve in the back of the spinal cord.

WRIGHT: More surgery. (AP)

WRIGHT: More surgery. (AP)

In a statement, Wright said: “Through this entire rehab process, I have been driven to get back on the field as quickly as I can. That’s why I had the shoulder surgery and that’s why today I underwent back surgery to reduce the risk of further issues going forward. With these two surgeries behind me, I hope to be able to put on a Mets uniform again as soon as possible. My desire to play is as strong as ever.’’

Wright expressed several times during the summer he is not considering retirement.

“I think I still have something to give,’’ he told the New York Post. “There’s still kind of that passion and that fire in me.’’

As much as Wright has to overcome physically, almost as difficult for him in his comeback attempt is overcoming all the time he has missed. At 34, he has played in just 75 games over the past three seasons.

Among his injuries in that time have been a pulled hamstring, spinal stenosis, a herniated disc in his upper spine and a rotator cuff issue.

Of course, I’d like to see Wright make it back, and believes he deserves the opportunity to try it again next spring.

From the Mets’ perspective, they can’t assume Wright will make it back which is why most likely will bring back Asdrubal Cabrera and/or Jose Reyes.

BAUER VS. SYNDERGAARD: It was interesting to hear how Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer and the Indians jointly developed and monitored a workout and conditioning program in the offseason.

The point is the Indians worked with the player and told him not to expect results early in the season. Bauer bought into the program and started tonight against the Yankees.

Conversely, the Mets pushed Matt Harvey early this season when he wasn’t ready to pitch. They also let Noah Syndergaard bulk up on his own which led to the lat injury.

HAPPY FOR BRUCE: I’m happy for Jay Bruce, who doubled and hit a two-run homer tonight against the Yankees. I loved the Bruce trade last season and was thrilled at his good start this season and wish they hadn’t traded him.

I felt even before the injuries to Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes the Mets would need Bruce’s left-handed power if they are to be competitive next year.

Despite Bruce saying he is open to returning to the Mets, I don’t see it happening because I don’t think GM Sandy Alderson will pony up the money on a long-term deal.

Aug 19

Montero Solid Again; Flores Has Superb Effort

Rafael Montero is finally showing signs of getting it. Tonight’s outing against the Marlins encored a strong six-inning effort – only two runs – against the Yankees.

MONTERO: Another strong start. (AP)

         MONTERO: Another strong start. (AP)

That’s two of at least six innings, and seven over all that he’s worked into the sixth.

Montero’s recent success stems from working inside with his fastball to set up his change-up away. Montero also worked quickly and ahead in the count, two things he failed to do in previous years when he struggled.

“He pitched in and had good movement on his fastball,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “That’s why he got so many ground balls. We’ve been preaching to him to pound the strike zone.’’

Montero has made significant improvement, enough to where he could fit into their future plans.

Working with Kevin Plawecki, who caught him at Las Vegas, Montero gave up one run on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts in six innings to win his second game and first at Citi Field, 8-1.

Montero said his sinker was working which resulted in him getting four double plays.

If all five of the Mets vaunted starters are healthy next year, Montero could be used as a long reliever.

FLORES AT THIRD: Wilmer Flores made a diving stop of a hard-hit ball by Marcell Ozuna in the first inning to possibly save a run. He also started three double-plays.

Although he’s not Graig Nettles, Flores has always played third base reasonably well. If the Mets are looking for answers for 2018, I’d like to see them finish the season with Flores at third.

Flores also hit his 15th homer, a two-run blast in the Mets’ seven-run sixth inning. Nine of those homers have come against right-handed pitching.

I’ve long been a Flores supporter, something GM Sandy Alderson is not. I want to play Flores full time, and I can see a contender wanting him.

In addition to Flores, Plawecki also hit a two-run homer, and Dominic Smith hit his first Citi Field homer. Perhaps more important than the homer was Smith drew his first career walk.

LEADOFF HITTER: Another thing to look at is their leadoff hitter. Tonight it was Brandon Nimmo, who went 1-for-4. His .380 on-base percentage definitely works in his favor.

If not Nimmo, I’d like to see Amed Rosario get a shot. With his speed, if he walks more he could be a 50-stolen base candidate. Rosario hitting first, with Nimmo second to protect him, the Mets could have something special.

However, for Rosario to be an effective leadoff hitter he must improve his on-base percentage (it’s only .256).

EXTRA INNINGS: The Mets tied a franchise record by turning five double plays. … Jeurys Familia threw 25 pitches in a scoreless inning in his second rehab appearance. … Curtis Granderson went 0-for-4, but reached on an error and scored the first run in the Dodgers’ victory over Detroit. … Smith has hit safely in five of his first nine major league games. … The win was the Mets’ 54th of the season. Conversely, the Dodgers are 53 games over .500.

 

Jun 10

Perfect Day For Mets And Matz

Pitching and power were to be the formula to carry the Mets this season, and today felt like it was supposed to be.

Today’s 6-1, 8-1 sweep was fueled by pitching; strong efforts from Robert Gsellman and Steven Matz, that were backed by Mets power, a grand slam from Yoenis Cespedes and a three-run homer from Jay Bruce in the nightcap.

MATZ: Gives Mets seven strong. (AP)

MATZ: Gives Mets seven strong. (AP)

“This is what we thought we were going to get with the guys we thought we were going to have,” manager Terry Collins said.

The last time the Mets swept a doubleheader was June 18, 2013, when they showcased fire-ballers Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, their arms of the future. However, the circumstances then differed greatly from today’s mauling today.

Four years ago, the Mets were a team on the rise; a team to be carried with their young pitching. Today, the Mets are a team fighting to keep open their window of opportunity.

Cespedes came off the disabled list, said he didn’t feel 100 percent, then hit a grand slam in the opener. However, today’s real storyline was Matz’s return in the nightcap after ten months on the disabled list.

Matz gave up one run on five hits and one walk with two strikeouts in seven innings. He accomplished that with just 98 pitches. Conversely, in his start Friday, Harvey threw over 100 pitches in five innings.

“His command of his stuff,” Collins said matter-of-factly about the key to Matz’s success.  “He’s around the plate. This is the kind of outing we were hoping we’d see.’’

Matz said he had nerves, but said he always gets them. He said he had to step back and collect himself.

“It feels good to get back out there and compete,” Matz said. “I was able to locate my fastball away. My command was there and I felt really locked in.”

In the opener, Gsellman threw 6.2 scoreless innings while giving up three hits. There has been some talk after this stretch of 18 games in 17 that Gsellman might go to the bullpen, but today’s outing might give pause to that thinking.

While we’re at it, we should give pause to the thinking things will be all right now that Cespedes is back.

“I feel good, but I don’t know that I can run at 100 percent at this point,” Cespedes told reporters prior to the game.

So, why did GM Sandy Alderson activate him? Cespedes didn’t play in the nightcap and may not play Sunday, but could return Monday against the Cubs.

Alderson risked Cespedes for what he got today, the game-icing slam. But, if he can’t run, won’t he cost the Mets in the long run? His failure to advance from second to third on a fly ball could have cost the Mets.

It didn’t, and Collins matter-of-factly said the Mets would protect him, but it the player himself said he’s not 100 percent, then it could be only a matter of time before Cespedes pulls his hamstring again.

As for Matz’s return, he looked sharp and threw free and easy.  There never seemed a question that the Mets took their time to protect Matz.

I can’t imagine them starting Matz if he said his elbow was barking, so, why would they start Cespedes if he says he can’t run 100 percent?

 

Jun 01

Mets Wrap: Flores Needs To Play

I’m tired of Terry Collins saying Wilmer Flores has worked hard to stay ready, and whenever he gets an opportunity he produces for the Mets.

FLORES: Needs to play. (AP)

FLORES: Needs to play. (AP)

If so, then why isn’t he playing every day?

Several times I laid out a format where he could play at least four games a week – playing one game at each infield position – which Collins has no interest in trying. If not this, then at least start him over Jose Reyes, whose time with the Mets should be nearing an end after their 2-1 loss today to the Brewers.

Flores homered leading off the eighth today, after a blistering May in which he hit .379, third best in the Major Leagues. He started 14 games for the month and had nine multi-hit games.

“I’m seeing the pitches and getting good swings,” Flores said.

Conversely, Reyes has only eight multi-hit games all season. He’s currently on a 0-for-15 slide, and is hitting .193 with a .266 on-base percentage.

It’s clear Reyes isn’t giving the Mets anything, while Flores has provided some punch whenever he gets a chance.

With the Mets six games under .500 and fading, what do they have to lose?

WHEELER START WASTED: Zack Wheeler gave up 10 hits with two walks in 6.1 innings, throwing 102 pitches. However, three double-plays (4-5-6) gave him the opportunity to pitch into the seventh.

“He really did pitch good,” Collins said. “He got out of some jams. He’s back. He’s fine as we continue on.”

I love how Wheeler works out of trouble, but I’m not wild about his high pitch counts, especially since he’s on an innings count.

“All I can ask is for me being healthy,” Wheeler told reporters of his expectations.

His innings limit has been reported at 110, and he’s currently at 55.2.

EXTRA INNINGS: The loss dropped the Mets ten games behind the Nationals. … Fernando Salas did a solid job in relief of Jerry Blevins with five strikeouts in two innings. … Collins was ejected for arguing an interference call of when a ball boy got in the way of Flores’ attempt to catch a foul ball. Initially, the call was ruled an out, but was overturned (correctly so).

UP NEXT: The Pirates are in Friday for the start of a three-game series. Matt Harvey, Robert Gsellman and Tyler Pill will start for the Mets.

Harvey is coming off a 7-2 victory in Pittsburgh, May 28, in which he gave up one run in six innings with only two walks in a 102-pitch effort.

In 46 career starts at Citi Field, Harvey is 16-13 with a 2.73 ERA. He is 1-1 with a 4.30 ERA in four career starts against the Pirates.

Apr 12

Wheeler, Conforto Give Mets Glimpse Of Future

Sometime next season or the year after, Zack Wheeler and Michael Conforto will combine to lift the Mets. They did for awhile Wednesday night in Philadelphia until Hansel Robles sprayed graffiti on their near masterpiece.

i-5Wheeler, backed in large part by Conforto’s homer and Asdrubal Cabrera’s two-run single, cruised into the sixth with a five-run lead. It looked as if manager Terry Collins would let him pitch out of trouble, but pulled him with two outs and the bases loaded in favor of Robles.

Collins feared the Phillies would break through and spoil Wheeler’s night and he’d suffer an emotional setback. Instead, Maikel Franco turned around Robles’ first pitch for a monster grand slam that changed the complexion of the game, but the Mets held on to win 5-4 to complete the sweep.

In winning his first game since coming off Tommy John surgery in 2014, Wheeler gave up three runs on four hits with one walk and four strikeouts. He threw the target 85 pitches, but the key was working ahead in the count with his secondary pitches. Miami hurt Wheeler in his first start – of a cold damp day – when he fell behind in the count and waited on his fastball.

Wheeler coasted into the sixth but the Phillies worked him hard to load the bases.

“I was very happy with the way he pitched tonight,” Collins told reporters of Wheeler’s start. “He threw the ball as well as he could but he ran out of gas all of a sudden.”

Pitchers usually won’t admit to getting tired, but Wheeler was stand-up. He knows the score.

“I was a little tired at the end,” Wheeler said. “It’s all about building myself up. …I had better command. That’s what I needed from my first start. It felt good to bounce back after that rough outing. I was nice to go out there and do well.  It’s a weight off my shoulders.”

Conversely, it hasn’t appeared the Mets were all that interested in building up Conforto’s at-bats. They had a huge lead, but Conforto sat until the end. Conforto was a surprise start over Curtis Granderson and responded with two hits and a walk and scored three runs.

One of those hits was an opposite-field homer to give the Mets an early 2-0 lead.

Conventional wisdom has Conforto going to the minors when Juan Lagares is activated from the disabled list. He needs at-bats, but Collins would not commit to starting him Thursday in Miami.

Conforto hasn’t gotten a lot of playing time but responded with what little he has.

“I’m getting good pitches to hit and getting deep into the count,” said Conforto, who continues to refuse to get drawn into the debate on his immediate future.

Another positive note to the day was the report Matt Harvey, who strained his left hamstring Tuesday night, would be able to make his next start Sunday in Miami.

While Wheeler and Conforto were the headliners, Robles served as a reminder of one of the Mets’ biggest weaknesses, which is the bridge to the back end of the bullpen.