Feb 27

The Mets’ Ambivalence Towards Ruben Tejada Opens Door For Flores

Of all the young New York Mets, the one I am most interested in seeing is Wilmer Flores, especially at shortstop. While Ruben Tejada is the starter by default, Flores has a legitimate shot with a strong spring to grab a job.

FLORES: Has opportunity to earn job (Getty)

FLORES: Has opportunity to earn job (Getty)

As the Mets monitor Stephen Drew’s interest and Seattle for Nick Franklin’s availability, it is clear they aren’t sold on Tejada. That makes it no better time than now for Flores to surface.

As team officials continue to portray Tejada as the most likely starter on Opening Day, they acknowledge those two other possibilities and are showing a declining enthusiasm for the incumbent.

A hot spring from Flores could make things interesting if the Mets don’t make an acquisition, especially if he shows something defensively.

The rap on Flores is he doesn’t have the first-step quickness in moving laterally. He also doesn’t have a lot of speed, but shortstops don’t have to be fast. Flores attended the same Michigan fitness camp as Tejada and reports are he improved his straight-ahead speed and lateral quickness.

However, for the offensively-challenged Mets, Flores’ upside is greater than Tejada’s. Flores drove in 13 runs in 27 games last season, which projected over a 162-game schedule is 78 RBI. In contrast, Tejada’s 162-game average is a mere 40.

In addition, as a spray hitter, Tejada’s career on-base percentage is only .323 and his 162-game average is 87 strikeouts.

Flores played shortstop in the minors until 2011, but because of the range issue, the Mets started playing him at third, second and first. All this begs the question: With all the ways prospects are measured, couldn’t they have figured out his range limitations?

Flores’ value to the Mets would be to show something at shortstop, because he is a man without a position and despite his supposed offensive abilities, never hit more than 18 homers (2012) in the minors.

His best season was at Triple-A Las Vegas in 2013 when he hit .321 with a .357 on-base percentage, 15 homers and 86 RBI.

As the Mets consider Drew and Franklin – neither is imminent – this is the perfect time for Flores to make a statement.

Although Flores has experienced every position in the infield, shortstop is the one with the most potential for a breakthrough. Barring injuries, he won’t supplant David Wright at third or Daniel Murphy at second this year.

Who knows what could happen at first base? I floated the idea last year they might cut loose both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda and go with Flores at first base.

That’s not imminent, either.

 

Feb 24

Mets’ Manager Terry Collins Wants Players To Reveal Injuries

Ike Davis isn’t the first New York Met to withhold an injury from manager Terry Collins and won’t be the last.

He’s just the latest, and his recent revelation he concealed an oblique injury last season perplexed and frustrated his manager.

COLLINS: Not pleased with Davis. (AP)

COLLINS: Not pleased with Davis. (AP)

As Davis struggled at the plate, he denied anything was bothered him. On Sunday he opened up to the New York Post and indicated he didn’t report anything to the medical staff because it was about the time he was to be optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas and didn’t want people to think he was making excuses.

Davis admonished the reporter Monday morning, and by the afternoon Collins was in the storm – and not pleased about it.

“There’s got to be a conversation,’’ Collins told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “And then certainly it’s up to me to decide which way to proceed. … As I look back now, everything would have been better off had he said something, and certainly he’ll hopefully learn from it that he needs to speak up.’’

Davis defended his actions, telling The Post, players perform injured all the time and he didn’t want to come off as making excuses. At the time, Davis said he was fine, but clearly something was off.

Collins said it goes beyond pain and discomfort.

“Once again, I can’t address it because I don’t know how bad it was,’’ Collins said. “Was it aggravating? Was there pain? Did it hurt you to swing? Were you trying to protect it coming off the ball? I mean, there’s all sorts of different things. And I certainly don’t have any answers for you.’’

All managers receive a daily report from the training staff on the extent of an injury and whether the player received treatment. If Davis said nothing, then Collins wasn’t given any information.

That this story came out the way it did is embarrassing to Collins and the Mets, an organization that has received its share of criticism on how it treats injuries.

The Mets received heat for how it dealt with injuries to Ryan Church, Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Jose Reyes and Pedro Martinez to name a few.

Last summer, they were embarrassed when the story broke that Matt Harvey wasn’t forthcoming on pain to his forearm, which eventually landed him on the disabled list and under the knife.

There were conflicting reports as to when Collins and the Mets’ hierarchy knew of Harvey’s injury. Collins said he never received a trainer’s report.

Of course we can speculate – and rightfully so – as to whether that lack of disclosure cost Harvey this season.

One understands a player’s desire to perform and help his team, but such intent isn’t always beneficial. Harvey, Davis and the Mets would all have been better off had players reported the injury immediately.

Not doing so shows poor judgment, but it is also something players have done for years, especially young players such as Harvey and struggling ones like Davis. Sometimes fear, and sometimes the competitive juices drown out good judgment.

No, Davis won’t be the last Met to feel something and hold his tongue.

ON DECK: Wrapping the day.

 

Feb 24

Mets’ Ike Davis Doesn’t Like Story; Did Not Refute Accuracy

New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis isn’t happy with a recent story that concealed an oblique injury last season.

DAVIS:  Unhappy with story. (AP)

DAVIS: Unhappy with story. (AP)

Davis said he didn’t report the injury because he was about to be optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas and didn’t want it to sound like an excuse.

On Monday, Davis did not refute the Post’s Mike Puma’s accuracy, but instead took him to task for writing it in the first place.

“You made it look like, you know, it’s an excuse,’’ Davis said. “That’s not what the story — it shouldn’t have been a story anyway. Because that’s what we talked about before you wrote it, was we shouldn’t write this, because that doesn’t matter. But that was nowhere in the article.’’

There are two things to note: 1) if Davis didn’t think it was a story, he shouldn’t have answered the questions, and 2) he should have been more forthcoming about the injury.

When he saw Puma writing in his notebook, he had to know there would be a story.

Even manager Terry Collins said had he known of the injury the team might have handled things differently.

To his credit, Davis didn’t deny the quotes, and in his strongest comment as a Met, said: “I sucked last year because I sucked. It’s not because I had an injury.’’

I’m glad Davis didn’t hide under the “I was misquoted’’ umbrella, and here’s hoping he learned something.

We admire athletes who play with pain, but sometimes playing with an injury could come back to haunt them. I have been critical of Matt Harvey and David Wright playing injured, if for no other reason they risked further injury and might have jeopardized their team’s chances of winning.

With Harvey, doing so might have caused his elbow injury and subsequent surgery. With Davis, it might have lead to a dreadful season and the Mets’ desire to trade him.

When you’re a gamer like Wright, like Harvey and like Davis, nobody will question when you call in sick one day.

ON DECK:  Thoughts on Nelson Cruz

Feb 23

Could Matt Harvey Become A HIgh Maintenance Super Nova?

Could the New York Mets have a potential problem with Matt Harvey?

There are already signs of him being high maintenance … signs he enjoys the trappings of New York too much … signs he doesn’t handle injuries well … signs of being too sensitive … signs he knows he’s good and isn’t afraid to let you know.

HARVEY: No hiding there are questions (ESPN)

HARVEY: No hiding there are questions (ESPN)

Harvey has never pitched a complete season and is 12-10 lifetime. While we’re not talking about the second coming of Tom Seaver, Harvey seems to be caring himself with a sense of entitlement and a “you can’t touch me’’ aura.

The latest is his reported reluctance to want to undergo his rehab in Port St. Lucie, which the Mets prefer, and desire to work out in New York.

After Harvey threw for the first time Saturday, general manager Sandy Alderson backed off saying where the 24-year-old 2010 will rehab, but made clear his preference.

“As a general rule, our players rehab in Florida,’’ Alderson said Saturday. “But that’s not a decision we’re going to make or mandate [now]. When we get to the end of spring training we’ll see where he is, and I’m sure there will be discussion between now and then.’’

For somebody with 36 career starts, why should there even be discussion? If Port St. Lucie was good enough for David Wright and Pedro Martinez to rehab, it should be good enough for Harvey.

In fairness, we haven’t heard Harvey’s reasoning for his preference of New York, which leads to speculation, with little of it showing him in a good light.

Making this more touchy is this could go before the Players Association, as the collective bargaining agreement mandates a player can refuse his rehab in a spring training locale during the season for longer than 20 days.

“The CBA imposes limitations. Yeah,’’ Alderson said. “But in the past, for the most part, our players have been here and it’s been a good situation.’’

We know New York is Harvey’s home, has superior Italian food and a better nightlife than Port St. Lucie.

But, what’s the purpose here?

New York’s nightlife makes one wonder, as Harvey clearly enjoys the perks of being a star – even though that might be a premature characterization of his professional status. Harvey likes the clubs and openly spoke about his drinking in a Men’s Journal magazine piece.

“I’m young, I’m single,’’ he was quoted as saying. “I want to be in the mix. … I have a 48-hour rule. No drinking two days before a start. But, those other days? Yes, I’m gonna go out.’’

The bottom line: If you’re 24 and a high-profile figure, you shouldn’t need a rule about drinking. If he finds it necessary to have a rule, he shouldn’t be drinking in the first place.

Everybody these days has a phone with a camera. Harvey has already been caught several times in incidents of public displays of affection with his former supermodel girlfriend, Anne Vyalitsyna at Rangers and Knicks games, where he is gifted the tickets. More trappings.

He’s now seeing another model, Ashley Haas, which has his comments of wanting to be like Derek Jeter resurface. Of course, It is doubtful Harvey would have ever posed nude.

“That guy is the model,’’ he said. “I mean, first off, let’s just look at the women he’s dated. Obviously, he goes out – he’s meeting these girls somewhere – but you never hear about it. That’s where I want to be.’’

New York’s nightlife has burned out dozens of athletes. Look what it did for Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. Imagine what Mickey Mantle would have been able to accomplish with a little less drinking and womanizing.

And, as for Jeter, he’s not the Teflon he’s made out to be. Stories of sending his conquests home with a gift basket of memorabilia and forcing houseguests to surrender their cell phones don’t portray him in a flattering light. Mom must be so proud.

Shortly after the magazine piece came out, Harvey complained about being misquoted and taken out of context. A reporter for a magazine profile records everything, so it is doubtful the quotes were manufactured. Backing off his comments shows a lack of accountability.

Harvey also got into it with WFAN talk-show host Joe Beningo, ripping him on Twitter and then deleting the post.

When it comes to fighting with a radio personality or the media in general, it is futile as it comes off as petty and unprofessional, plus, he’ll never have the last word.

The media isn’t as easy to bully as was former teammate Jon Rauch, whom Harvey forced out of town after challenging the former Mets reliever to a fight because he didn’t appreciate the rookie hazing, which included getting doused with water while sleeping on the trainer’s table.

If Harvey had a problem he could have confronted Rauch in private rather than making an uncomfortable clubhouse scene. That’s something somebody with a professional grasp on things would have done. Instead, he came off as behaving like Jordany Valdespin.

That’s not the only thing Harvey hasn’t handled well. Twice he wasn’t immediately forthcoming in disclosing injuries to the training staff, and arguably it led to his elbow surgery.

I want the best for Harvey. I want him to have a long and brilliant career. However, he has a long way to go, on and off the field. He hasn’t always shown good judgment and a case can be made it cost him this season.

He needs to reign himself in off the field, and that includes not making a big deal about where he rehabs. If reflects poorly on him and makes one wonder if this isn’t about carousing the bars with Haas and watching the Rangers.

If he maintains this course, instead of a franchise pitcher, he could end being a high maintenance super nova.

Feb 22

Wrapping Up The Day: Matt Harvey Throws; Mets Re-Fi; Collins To Ease In Vets

Matt Harvey’s first throwing session and news of the New York Mets’ refinancing their debt incurred from the Ponzi ruling were today’s most significant developments from the Mets’ spring training camp in Port St. Lucie.

Harvey made 20 throws on flat ground from 60 feet Saturday morning and described his feelings as “awesome.’’

Harvey will continue to throw on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. He described it as part of a process and acknowledged he must resist the urge to throw harder.

In addition:

* The Mets’ application to refinance was accepted with the organization several weeks away from having to make a $250-million payment. The five-year loan was priced at Libor plus 3.25 percent.

* Saturday was the first day of full-squad workouts. John Lannan, Gonzalez Germen, Rafael Montero and Scott Rice were among the pitchers to throw live batting practice.

* Manager Terry Collins plans to “ease’’ his veterans into spring training games. Daniel Murphy, David Wright and Curtis Granderson aren’t expected to play the first week.

* Overall, Collins is pleased with the workouts. “I have never seen the drills done with more enthusiasm, with more energy without major mistakes than we have in the last six days. It’s incredible,’’ Collins said.

* Prospect Erik Goeddel will work as a reliever during spring training and the regular season, said general manager Sandy Alderson, whose reasoning is the Mets’ starting pitching depth in the minors.

* Alderson will delay the decision where Harvey will rehab this season. He prefers Port St. Lucie; Harvey wants New York. Since there’s no need to make a decision now, he’ll wait to later in camp.

* Alderson expressed no regrets in the Mets signing outfielder Chris Young and not waiting to sign Nelson Cruz, who just agreed to an $8-million, one-year contract with Baltimore. That’s $750-thousand more than they’ll pay Young.