Mar 20

Mets Today: Davis Plays, Wheeler Starts, Lineup

The New York Mets could field close to their Opening Day lineup for today’s game against Atlanta in Port St. Lucie.

We have an Ike Davis sighting. Davis, in the lineup for the first time since March 2 because of tightness in his calves, will play first and bat sixth.

Meanwhile, the other ailing first baseman, Lucas Duda (strained hamstring) will start in a minor league game.

Daniel Murphy will not play because of a tight right calf.

Zack Wheeler, the projected No. 4 starter, will get the ball.

Here’s the lineup:

Eric Young, 2b: Will start at second if Murphy plays first. Otherwise, it is left field or the bench.

Ruben Tejada, ss: Where’s Wilmer Flores? Mets are still looking to upgrade here. If he starts, he won’t bat second.

David Wright, 3b: The best hitter always bats third. Has been a quiet spring for him.

Curtis Granderson, rf: Has shown some pop in his bat.

Chris Young, lf: Slotted fifth between lefthanded hitters Granderson and Davis.

Ike Davis, 1b: He has little more than a week to get ready.

Travis d’Arnaud, c:  A lot is expected from him this year, not the least is for him to stay healthy.

Zack Wheeler, rhp: Batting eighth in the gimmick move.

Juan Lagares, cf: Great glove, but what does it say about him that he’s hitting ninth?

 

Mar 19

Mets Playing Unreasonable Hardball With Harvey

The New York Mets have long been accused of mishandling injuries, from Carlos Beltran to Ryan Church to David Wright to Oliver Perez to Ike Davis.

That’s only a few.

HARVEY: Irritated by Mets' position. (AP)

HARVEY: Irritated by Mets’ position. (AP)

Mishandling ranges across a broad spectrum and you can see storm clouds forming with Matt Harvey.

A few weeks ago, I took Harvey to task for his adamant stance of wanting to rehab in New York instead of Port St. Lucie. I’ve softened on that approach following the incident stemming from a one-on-one interview the disabled pitcher had with Andy Martino of The New York Daily News.

Harvey has the union-negotiated right not to rehab the entire time in Florida, which is the Mets’ preference. Harvey prefers New York, and insists it’s not because of the Rangers and the nightlife the City offers.

By contrast, Port St. Lucie offers Chili’s and an Outback. You can’t even get a good pizza slice down there.

Harvey fully argued his position, and I better understand his desire and frustration, a product of his treatment by management.

“The biggest part is wanting to stay with the team,’’ Harvey said. “To learn the league. To learn Travis (d’Arnaud).  To learn how to bond with the other starting pitchers, and the guys in the clubhouse, and the David Wrights who I plan on playing with.

“I expressed that seven months in Port St. Lucie is a long time. For me, I strongly felt that my best opportunity, and my motivation to come back quicker, stronger, work harder would be to be with the teammates. That’s kind of what I have always said.  I have worked so hard to get to the big leagues and be with this team, it just felt like all of a sudden I was shooed to the back.’’

Unfortunately, it’s usually that way with injured players; they become invisible.

But, Harvey makes sense. In contrast, the Mets have not responded with a passionate defense of their position, other than to say most players have always rehabbed at the spring training site.

That’s like a kid questioning his mother and hearing,  “because I said so.’’ That answer doesn’t fly when one is eight, let alone 24.

General manager Sandy Alderson said the team would discuss a full rehab plan. Huh? He says that in March? This should have been decided in late October following Harvey’s Tommy John surgery.

Why did this issue have to be in the air for the better part of five months? Ridiculous.

Funny, but when Harvey was introduced as the GM, COO Jeff Wilpon said better handling of injuries was a priority.

Why can’t there be a compromise? Say, one month in New York and one month in Florida? Or, rehab when the team is home and return to Port St. Lucie when it is on the road?

Think of the frequent flier miles. This shouldn’t be all that hard.

Harvey also complained his locker was moved – along with Jeremy Hefner – to the corner of the room, which he said isolates him from the team. He is the Mets, or at least will be next season, so why agitate him?

Alderson claimed he didn’t order the move; instead saying it was the decision of the clubhouse manager. Since when does a clubhouse manager run things?

Harvey should have said something a month ago if he was unhappy. If he did, there’s no excuse why this has lingered when he should have been relocated to his original locker location. The same goes for Hefner. There’s not a good reason to do this and alienate Harvey.

Harvey was also peeved, and rightfully so, when his interview with Martino was intruded on by a Mets’ official. Not being allowed to talk with the press is unreasonable. Just as bad is having his discussion monitored.

That the official also lingered after Harvey said everything was cool, and had a testy exchange with the reporter, not surprisingly reached print to further make the Mets look bad.

On interviews, Alderson said: “My recommendation is to manage doing interviews in a way that doesn’t interfere with his day-to-day-activities.’’

That’s absurd. Players always do that. In over 20 years in major league clubhouses, I never experienced a player who didn’t leave when he was scheduled to be somewhere else. “I gotta go. Let’s finish this later,’’ is the stock statement.

Besides, Harvey’s work ethic would never prevent him from doing his rehab. He probably has his day structured tighter than the Mets’ format.

So, the player who wasn’t supposed to be a story became one because of three decisions, or indecisions, by Mets’ management.

The first thing I thought of is why would the Mets push Harvey when all of this could have been alleviated with a little common sense? Why irritate your best pitcher, the guy you’ve been touting as the key to your rebuilding process?

Just plain dumb.

This is so petty. Don’t think for a moment that if the Mets continue to play hardball with Harvey, that he won’t do the same with them in 2019, when he becomes a free agent.

Mar 12

Mets Today: John Lannan Starts; Returns Of Duda And Murphy Possible

Fifth-starter candidate John Lannan will start today against St. Louis in Port St. Lucie.

Lannan, signed to compete for the fifth-starter role, is also being considered for a spot in the bullpen in the wake of lefty Josh Edgin being sent to the minor league camp.

Whatever happens this spring, Lannan said he’s not ready to give up starting, and at 29, has plenty of time remaining.

“I don’t think anything right now. I’m just going to take it as it is,’’ Lannan said of his role. “I think that I’m not done as a starter. I think the last few years I’ve kind of run into, I don’t want to say back luck, but some unfortunate circumstances – in 2012 getting sent to Triple-A and last year with the injury [surgery on left leg] I had.

“I don’t think I’m done [starting], but I’m looking forward to the possibility of pitching in the big leagues. Whatever capacity that is, I’m just looking forward to it.’’

In addition today:

* Daniel Murphy practiced outside Tuesday, so he might be able to play.

* Lucas Duda could return to the lineup today or tomorrow. He’s been bothered by a tight left hamstring, but has been hitting in the cage.

* Bartolo Colon and Jenrry Mejia are scheduled to start the two games in Las Vegas, Saturday and Sunday, respectively against the Chicago Cubs. Also expected on the travel squad are David Wright, Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, Travis d’Arnaud and Bobby Parnell.

ON DECK:  The need for a second lefty in the bullpen.

Mar 10

Davis’ Saga Continues; This Won’t End Well

Nobody knows what to expect from Ike Davis this season. Not him, not the Mets, but we can speculate, which considering Davis’ history with the media this spring, won’t go over well.

Davis walked into camp this morning in a walking boot on his right foot, something not unfamiliar with him, having done so in 2011 after his collision with David Wright. He was off to a good start at the time, but hasn’t consistently hit since.

DAVIS:  We're all frustrated with Ike. (AP)

DAVIS: We’re all frustrated with Ike. (AP)

Reading Davis’ comments to reporters in Port St. Lucie, did nothing to assure anybody, 1) he will be ready for the start of the season, 2) this is being handled properly, and 3) he has a clue about what it takes to play in New York.

Here we are, three weeks from Opening Day, and the only certainty is Davis won’t get the 90-plus at-bats manager Terry Collins wanted for him.

He just won’t, regardless how he spins things.

“It’s just a walking boot,’’ Davis said matter-of-factly. “Nothing crazy happened. … Hopefully I’ll get two weeks of games in before the season starts. I can still get a lot of ABs.’’

Please explain how.

That comment says he won’t play this week. And, after not playing all this time, don’t think for a moment Davis will jump right in and get four at-bats a day for two weeks. It doesn’t work that way. He’ll be eased in after this week, but then have moments of sitting to make sure he doesn’t re-injure himself.

So, assuming Davis doesn’t play until next Monday – it’s Davis, so bet the over – that might leave him eight or nine games to get ready. At this rate, he might not get 30 at-bats, much less close to the 90 Collins wanted.

Also irritating is Davis saying he hasn’t yet had a MRI. Huh?

“I’m sure we’ll do that at some point,’’ Davis said about the MRI. Davis said his calves are tight, the right being more painful.

What are they waiting for, the traveling MRI show to come to town, much like the traveling carnivals you see throughout the south in mall parking lots this time of year?

First base is an important decision for the Mets, and here it is, halfway through spring training and there’s no clue. None.

Last season, Davis said he didn’t disclose a strained oblique because he was afraid it would come off as making an excuse. His comment this morning was worse.

“I want to play,’’ Davis said, then took a shot at the media, as if the writers forced his bad habits upon him. “Obviously I could have went out there and blown out and dealt with more articles about not saying it’s hurt.’’

C’mon Ike, give it a rest. You’re coming off as being too sensitive to what people say about you. That’s not a good quality to have if you’re a New York athlete.

For those who might have forgotten, Davis hit all of .205 last season with only nine homers and 33 RBI.

His approach at the plate is lost and one of desperation. There’s little patience; the habit of trying to pull everything; a nasty hitch and big loop to his swing; and he pulls his head off the pitch and seemingly refuses to go up the middle or to the opposite field. He’s a big-time mess fundamentally. Last summer’s excursion to Las Vegas accomplished nothing.

My guess is Davis will begin the season on the disabled list and his saga will continue to its inevitable sour end. When that happens, one can only wonder what will be written.

ON DECK: Mets routed by Marlins.

 

 

Mar 07

Good Idea To Ease In David Wright

There will be a David Wright sighting this afternoon for the New York Mets. Manager Terry Collins, referring to an oblique strain in previous springs, took the approach of easing Wright and Daniel Murphy into the lineup this spring.

WRIGHT: Easing into it. (AP)

WRIGHT: Easing into it. (AP)

My first impression is Wright doesn’t need to be rushed and if this helps him stay healthy, I’m behind it all the way. Spring training is a grind as it is, so resting is a good strategy since Wright will get the necessary at-bats needed to get ready.

“Spring training is so long. It’s really for the pitchers’ benefit, to get them stretched out,’’ Wright said earlier this week. “Terry approached me even during the offseason and kind of told me, `Don’t be surprised if in spring training I slow you down a little bit and push you back.’

“The last couple of years I’ve had the abdominal/oblique injuries. So to kind of slow it up this year, to kind of take those baby steps before ramping it up, I think helps me out.’’

Hitters normally get close to 90 at-bats in the spring. If they feel like it isn’t enough, they can always be scheduled in simulated games where they can get up to seven in a game. Wright, as he usually does, shows up several weeks earlier. He’s been taking batting practice since the Super Bowl.

“I felt like I got good work in,’’ Wright said. “I felt I’m a lot more prepared now than I have been in recent spring trainings to enter games, and I think I’ll get a little more out of it.’’

Wright’s work entails hitting, defense and conditioning. It’s been a concentrated effort since the games began; an effort he wouldn’t have been able to do had he been playing all this time.

There has been more intense training this spring compared to last year because then he was playing in the World Baseball Classic.

As always, everything is up for review. If, during the season, Wright feels fresher, then this has been a good routine. If he doesn’t feel as sharp at the start of the season, he can always change next year.

Either way, this is a useful experiment.