Mar 14

Dillon Gee To Face Headhunting Tigers Today

Normally, when a team has five of its hitters drilled in two games a case can be made for retribution. There’s been no such talk from the Mets about the Detroit Tigers taking liberties with their hitters.

Jim Leyland’s pitchers have always been aggressive, so perhaps this is just a case of not having control early in spring training.

Nonetheless, it hurts just as much in March as it does in July. It will be interesting to see how the Mets respond if somebody takes one in the ribs today.

Retaliation is tricky at any time, but especially during spring training because players are going in and out of the lineup and pitchers are just trying to make the team. Then again, the solution might be to sign Armando Benitez for the day.

Dillon Gee, today’s starter for the Mets against Detroit in Port St. Lucie, does have a spot in the rotation. Just saying.

Also scheduled to pitch today for the Mets are LaTroy Hawkins, Pedro Feliciano, Greg Burke and Josh Edgin.

SANTANA NOT READY: Terry Collins told ESPNNewYork.com yesterday Johan Santana is “not too close,’’ to getting back on the mound.

One has to wonder if Santana’s surprise mound appearance might have set him back. At the time, GM Sandy Alderson was projecting he wouldn’t throw for about ten days.

Whether or not Santana reinjured his shoulder is hard to ascertain, but he didn’t do himself any favors and his progress has been set back.

METS MUSINGS: Outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis could resume baseball activities today, but is still a way from getting into a game. I’ll have something more about Nieuwenhuis’ disappointing spring later. … Daniel Murphy will take batting practice again today and could get into a minor league game this weekend. … I wrote yesterday about the Mets taking a look at outfielder Brennan Boesch. There could be mild interest. Perhaps working against Boesch is his age. At 27, one would assume an upside, but if this is so, why was he released? It can’t just be the strained oblique.

Mar 08

Mets In Lakeland To Face Tigers; Gee Gets Ball

Good morning from Lakeland. Just arrived. The drive was a little over two hours, straight highways all the way through past Yeehaw Junction, dozens of orange groves, junkyards, farms and dilapidated motels.

The weather is nice, but it wasn’t a pretty drive.

The Tigers play in a place called Joker Marchant Stadium, built in 1966. It has been renovated several times. There’s a hill behind the left field fence, much like what the Mets have at Tradition Field in right.

The Mets’ bus just arrived and I’ll be heading to the clubhouse in a few minutes. The Tigers are taking batting practice and there’s only a few people in the stands.

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Mar 08

Dillon Gee Takes Mound Today Against Detroit

They all can’t throw like Matt Harvey this time of spring.

Overpowering and arguably flawless in yesterday’s start against Miami, Harvey had one of those seamless starts pitchers rarely have in their third spring training game.

GEE: Continues comeback today.

GEE: Continues comeback today.

Dillon Gee, today’s starter against Detroit in Lakeland, has no such illusions.

“My mechanics are off,’’ Gee said. “It will be just my third start of the spring, so they are bound to be off. Spring training is for trying to figure out that kind of stuff.’’

Gee insists it is not an injury-related mechanical problem, but a matter of working off the rust that is a natural occurrence this time of year. It’s part of the process of getting ready to make 30 stars a summer.

“It’s all about location,’’ said Gee as he laced up his shoes while sitting at his locker yesterday afternoon. “Location is all about repetition early in spring training. I’m trying to refine everything.’’

As it is with Harvey and Jon Niese, Gee said mastering his change-up is the pitch he most needs to refine that will tell him if he’s ready to start the season. A change-up is thrown with the same motion as the fastball, and even though the pitcher uses the same grip, he releases the pitch with a different pressure on the ball.

“The change-up is such a feel pitch,’’ Gee said. “It takes time to feel comfortable with it. … Having good results would be good, but the important thing is to feel comfortable with all my pitches and improve my location.’’

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Mar 07

Matt Harvey Overpowering In Mets’ Win

Here it was, the fifth inning and Terry Collins was sending out Matt Harvey again. With his pitch count down, Collins had sent Harvey out for the fourth and was doing it again.

Harvey’s command was that good.

HARVEY: Brilliant today.

HARVEY: Brilliant today.

“I was very impressed (by his pitch count),’’ Collins said. “If he’s going to pitch 215 innings, he’ll be getting deep into games and pitching to contact.’’

A lot of things will have to click for that to happen, notably his change-up. In today’s 4-1 victory over Miami, most everything did with his change-up being superb.

“Awesome,’’ was how catcher Anthony Recker described it. “He had solid command of everything. He was getting ahead of them. Everything was working well. He was definitely locked in.’’

Harvey threw 48 pitches, 35 for strikes. He struck out five and didn’t allow a hit. The Marlins’ only runner came on an error.

“If I’m going to pitch seven, eight innings, I need to have a decent walks-to-strikeouts ratio,’’ said Harvey, who spent a lot of time before this start studying video of his change-up.

“That was something I was looking at from the video,’’ Harvey said. “I was concentrating on staying back. I threw a lot of good ones.’’

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Mar 06

Terry Collins Not Worried About Johan Santana

terry collins baby

COLLINS: Says he is eye to eye with Santana.

This time, Terry Collins knew what Johan Santana was doing and seemingly both are on the same page, even though the left-hander was mum today on both his throwing and the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

After mugging with several friends on the Venezuelan WBC team, Santana long-tossed in the outfield, and followed that with several pitches off the mound from where he fielded bunts.

The timetable is a bullpen session, then batting practice and possibly pitching in a game, March 14. That would leave three starts before the start to the season.

“We’re not worried about April 1,” Collins said. “We’re worried about 30 starts. … This is about protecting him.’’

Collins and Santana didn’t appear on the same page Sunday when the latter threw off the mound and the manager questioning his reasoning later, saying he had nothing to prove.

MUPRHY UPDATE: Daniel Murphy, sidelined with a strained right side muscle, played catch, took grounders and hit in the cage. He followed that up by saying he didn’t have a timetable for when he’d take live batting practice and appear in a game.

“I want to play,’’ Murphy said. “But, I want to be smart. There’s three weeks left. There’s time.’’

THE GAME: Jon Niese gave up four runs on six hits in 2.1 innings, and Carlos Torres was hit for seven runs on eight hits in 1.2 innings as the Mets were beaten, 14-10, by the Venezuelan WBC team.

Collin Cowgill continues to impress, going 3-for-4 with two RBI as the DH. … Marlon Byrd hit a three-run homer and Lucas Duda was hitless in two at-bats.

K-ROD SEEKS REDEMPTION: Former Mets reliever Francisco Rodriguez did not distinguish himself during his tenure with the Mets. It wouldn’t be a reach to say the highlight of his stay was general manager Sandy Alderson’s ability to trade him the summer after his fight with his former father-in-law outside the family lounge at Citi Field.

The punch cost Rodriguez an injured hand and night in jail.

Yesterday, he visited with Collins as a member of Venezuela’s WBC team. He told reporters after the game he would like a chance to make amends with the Mets.

“I would love to,” Rodriguez said. “They’ve got a great coaching staff over there. To come back and redeem myself would be great, because I’ve got to be realistic and honest. You would have to be real blind to not see that I fell when I was there. That’s not even a question. To be able to get one more shot and get it done would be great.”

JUST WONDERING: With Mark Teixeira out eight to ten weeks, and to open the season on the disabled list along with Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez, nobody is projecting a hot start from the Yankees.

The media is expected to crush the Yankees assuming a slow start, which could take some of the negative attention away from the Mets.

METS NOTEBOOK: Despite the Mets scoring ten runs, Collins said he’s concerned about the offense. “We’re not swinging the bats very good,’’ he said. “But, we still have around 40 at-bats (per starter) to go.’’ … Kirk Nieuwenhuis is getting treatment on his bruised left knee and said there’s no timetable for his return. I’ll have something with Nieuwenhuis in the morning. … The Mets are in their 25th spring in Port St. Lucie, the seventh longest tenure in the majors. … Matt Harvey will start Thursday against Miami, followed by Greg Burke and Brandon Lyon. … Dillon Gee, Bobby Parnell and Josh Edgin will pitch Friday against Detroit at Lakeland. … Former Mets bullpen coach Guy Conti lives in nearby Vero Beach and is a guest instructor.