Mar 05

Wheeler Responds To Nats’ Harper

I wouldn’t have expected anything less from Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler, and from Bryce Harper, either. Sure, the Nationals’ outfielder was giddy about his team getting Max Scherzer and why shouldn’t he?

WHEELER: Responds to Harper.

WHEELER: Responds to Harper.

“To be able to have a guy like Scherzer come in? I just started laughing,’’ Harper told reporters. “I was like, ‘Where’s my ring?’ You know what I mean? It’s stupid. It’s absolutely stupid how good our staff is.’’

I would have hoped he’d have that confidence in his team.

As for Wheeler, it wasn’t exactly talking smack according to professional wrestling or NBA standards, but the soft-spoken Met had something to say.

“I guarantee you we all saw what Bryce Harper said,’’ Wheeler told the New York Daily News. “He said, ‘give me my ring… we’re going to make it hard for him to get that ring, I’ll guarantee you that.’’

Wheeler isn’t a braggart, but I was glad to see him exhibit some spine. I wouldn’t want to have seen anything less from him.

It’s good he’s thinking that way, but if the Mets are to challenge Washington, much less compete in the NL East, they must do better than going 4-15 against the Nationals.

ON DECK: Daniel Murphy to go on ESPN to tell his side.

Feb 27

Did Duda Push Injury Too Far?

As sure as the sun rises in the East, the Mets will have a spring training injury issue. It is the way of their world.

DUDA: Did he sit on injury?

DUDA: Did he sit on injury?

This spring it is first baseman Lucas Duda, who won’t be allowed to swing a bat for at least a week because of a strained left intercostal muscle. Initially, it was reported Duda had a strained left oblique and wouldn’t be able to swing the bat for up to three days. Then it was an intercostal muscle and he’d be out a week.

However, what is alarming is that ESPN reported Duda was bothered by this injury for “the past couple of weeks,’’ which leads to several questions:

* Did Duda report this injury, and if so, did the training staff clear him to swing the bat?

* If Duda did not report the injury to the training staff, then why didn’t he?

Every year there’s a player who trains through pain. It’s admirable to be a hard worker, but it is foolish to force things.

Manager Terry Collins told reporters: “Nobody is more upset than he is. He’s a workaholic. He’s bound and determined to be as good as he can be. He overdid it, and now he’s got to back off.’’

This spring the injury envelope was first pushed by Duda.

Feb 25

Mets Matters: Syndergaard Motivated

I really like what Noah Syndergaard told reporters in Port St. Lucie about his reaction to not being called up at the end of last season.

Realistically, it wasn’t going to happen as to protect his Super Two status.

mets-matters logoAfter getting the call from GM Sandy Alderson, Syndergaard refused to sulk, but instead used it a source of motivation.

“It was kind of heartbreaking,” Syndergaard told ESPN. “I went home, let things relax a little bit, and then got back in my workout program and just enjoyed time in the offseason.

“But it was disappointing. To be in the big leagues has been my dream ever since I was a little kid. … I use it as a little extra motivation, because I don’t want to hear that phone call again.’’

Syndergaard is expected to open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas and join the Mets in June.

Syndergaard, 22, needs to develop a secondary pitch because scouts say he relies too much on his outstanding fastball. Normally, pitchers move up to the next level when they begin dominating the competition, something he did not do evidenced by his 2014 Vegas numbers: 9-7, 4.60 ERA and 1.481 WHIP in 26 starts.

By his own admission, Syndergaard said he wasn’t ready.

“Being in Triple-A, you’ve got guys who have been in the big leagues for a number of seasons. So they can hit a fastball,’’ Syndergaard said. “Hitting is timing, and pitching is throwing off timing. If you throw three fastballs on the heart of the plate, they’re going to time one up.’’

Nobody knows how good Syndergaard will be, but he has the right idea.

HARVEY TO THROW FRIDAY: Matt Harvey’s come back from Tommy John surgery will take another step Friday when he throws to hitters for the first time.

The plan is to take batting practice, but there’s even the chance the hitters won’t even swing, but to stand at the plate to re-acclimate him to having a batter in the box.

DUDA UPDATE: Lucas Duda’s side injury has been changed from a strained oblique to a intercostal muscle. He’s not expected to resume swinging until Friday.

ON DECK TOMORROW: Among other things, I’ll project the Mets’ Opening Day roster.

Feb 17

Mets Matters: Parnell’s Elbow An Issue

Undoubtedly, Bobby Parnell’s surgically repaired elbow will be the central topic when he addresses the media Wednesday morning.

mets-matters logoWhen will Parnell, who’s expected to open the season on the disabled list, be ready to dive into spring training?

ESPN reported Tuesday it might be up to three weeks, but that’s just speculation at this point. Hopefully, Parnell will shed more light Wednesday.

Currently, Jenrry Mejia is the choice to be the closer to open the season. When Parnell is activated Mejia’s role will change again.

“That’s Terry Collins’ job,’’ Mejia told reporters Tuesday. “That’s not my job. I’ve got to be out there and do the best I can. Whatever Terry Collins wants me to do, I’ve got to do. I’ll go out there. I’ll go to the bullpen, throw the seventh, ninth, eighth inning – whatever they want me to do.’’

BLACK HOPING FOR BETTER SPRING: Thought of as a closer in the future, Vic Black has the stuff for that role, but for now he has the simple ambition of just making it out of Port St. Lucie and to New York.

That wasn’t the case last season when his miserable spring training landed him to the minor leagues.

“There was a desire to finally break camp, finally start with a team,’’ Black told reporters. “I think now it’s understanding that the spring is a preparation for April.’’


Feb 17

Mets’ Numbers To Be Retired; Don’t Forget Kranepool

Well Adam, since you asked, yes I have several Mets in mind, including an iconic figure who often gets lost in the franchise’s lore, who should have their numbers retired. In his daily “Morning Briefing’’ column ESPN’s Adam Rubin proposed the question what Mets should have their uniform number retired.

His piece came on the heels of an article written by The New York Post’s Kevin Kiernan suggesting Mike Piazza have his No. 31 retired. I have no argument with Kevin on Piazza, who after all, could be in Cooperstown next year or the following.

KRANEPOOL: Don't forget No. 7

KRANEPOOL: Don’t forget No. 7

Everybody suggests Piazza, so that’s not a surprise, and there are those pushing for the foundation players of the 1980s teams: Keith HernandezGary Carter, Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. If you will, they were the Mets’ Core Four from that era.

I’m all for those guys having their numbers on the outfield wall at Citi Field, but the one guy I’d like to be the first to endorse is Ed Kranepool. Yes, you read correctly.

Kranepool is the first Met I remember growing up, then came Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman. By the way, I think Koosman also gets overlooked as a significant Met, and yes, his No. 36 should also be on the wall.

Let’s talk about Kranepool for a moment. Is he a Hall of Fame player? No. However, he made his debut in 1962 as a 17-year-old and for much of the 1960s and 1970s, was a key offensive force for the Mets.  He ranks in the top ten in franchise history in games (1st, 1,853), at-bats (2nd, 5,436), runs scored (9th, 536), hits (2nd, 1,418), doubles (2nd, 225), triples (10th, 25), homers (10th, 118), RBI (614) and walks (8th, 454).

Many of those numbers have been dwarfed, but for a long time many of the records belonged to Kranepool, and for that, he should be honored.

The Mets’ history will always lag behind that of the Yankees because the latter has over a 50-year head start. However, the Mets have their own history and it should be recognized. Kranepool is part of that history.

So, 25 years from now, when some seven-year-old kid – 7 was Kranepool’s number – asks his grandfather about the numbers on the wall, I want one of his memories to be that of Kranepool.