Mar 06

Mets-Astros Rained Out; Rotation Altered

Today’s rainout forced the New York Mets to alter their pitching rotation.

Fifth-starter candidate John Lannan was scheduled to start against Houston in Kissimmee, Fla. Instead, he will start Friday against St. Louis at Port St. Lucie.

Daisuke Matsuzaka will also pitch against the Cardinals. Rafael Montero and Steven Matz, also scheduled to pitch today, will go tomorrow.

ON DECK: Setbacks for Ike Davis and Lucas Duda

 

Mar 01

Mets Wrap: Good News On Lannan, Parnell; Duda Homers

On the bright side for the New York Mets, Lucas Duda homered and has hit the ball hard in the first two exhibition games.

He didn’t pitch in the game, but closer Bobby Parnell threw batting practice, and said, “I’ll be good to go,’’ when asked about being ready for Opening Day.

Also, fifth-starter candidate John Lannan threw two scoreless innings in his first game action since undergoing surgery to repair a tendon linking the thigh muscles to his left knee.

“I was just grateful to be back out there and feel pretty good,’’ Lannan said.

Other than that, there wasn’t much positive Saturday for the Mets, who lost 9-1 to the Marlins, including Kyle Farnsworth, 37, who gave up a homer and whose fastball was 88 mph.

But, it is early.

Mar 01

Mets Week In Review: Niese, Davis, Trade Rumors

Since injuries to starting pitchers are more important than temper tantrums by struggling first basemen, undoubtedly the most important news item of the week was the MRI on left-hander Jon Niese.

The MRI showed no structural damage, but revealed weakness in the back area of the shoulder, which Niese took responsibility for, saying he didn’t work that enough.

That disclosure raised numerous questions about the Mets’ handling of the injury.

Niese’s first exhibition start, Tuesday against Houston, will be pushed back. He is to resume throwing and will be given a set of exercises designed to strengthen the back area of his shoulder.

Manager Terry Collins named Niese his Opening Day starter, and so far that hasn’t changed.

Also this week:

* Ike Davis verbally sparred with New York Post reporter Mike Puma, saying he didn’t “approve’’ of his story the first baseman concealed an oblique injury last year. Davis said he didn’t want to disclose the injury because it was about the time he was to be sent to Triple-A Las Vegas and didn’t want it to come off as making excuses.

Davis did not refute the accuracy of the story and produced a line-drive quote: “I sucked last year because I sucked.’’

However, Puma did him one better, and when asked what would happen if Davis took a swing at him, said: “He might miss.’’

* In the wake of the Davis story, Collins said he wants players to reveal injuries and indicated last year could have been different for Davis had he done so. Later, Niese said he didn’t want to tell anybody about his shoulder ailment.

* In a meeting with his staff, general manager Sandy Alderson said he thought 90 victories were possible, which would be a 20 percent improvement. Talk about setting the bar high.

* The Mets remain ambivalent about Ruben Tejada being their Opening Day shortstop. Alderson did not close the door on free agent Stephen Drew and talked trade with Seattle about Nick Franklin.

* Prospect Noah Syndergaard struck out five in two innings in Thursday’s intrasquad game. Syndergaard threw a nasty curve and fastball that topped out a 97 mph. His first exhibition start is scheduled for Monday against Atlanta.

* Outfielder Eric Young and pitcher Bartolo Colon missed time with muscle strains.

* Collins announced his tentative starting rotation: Niese, Colon, Dillon Gee, Zack Wheeler and the fifth starter, which is to come from the group of Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lannan and Jenrry Mejia.

* Collins said he would ease David Wright and Daniel Murphy into games, and indicated Wilmer Flores would get time at shortstop.

Mar 01

Bobby Parnell Throws BP; Line-ups Against Miami

New York Mets closer Bobby Parnell said he cleared a “mental hurdle’’ after throwing a 35-pitch batting practice this morning. Parnell threw to David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Eric Young. He threw a mix of curveballs and fastballs.

Parnell was especially satisfied with his command, and that he experienced no discomfort when he followed batted balls with his head.

“Going early like this, you don’t expect to be perfect,’’ Parnell told reporters. “By no means was I, but everything was down and I feel like I can work off that really well. … I didn’t know how I’d react to balls off the bat. I try not to do a lot of herky-jerky stuff with my neck.’’

Incidentally, Parnell’s session marked the first on-field work for Young, who had been sidelined with a strained muscle in his side.

Young is not expected to play in an exhibition game until early next week.

In another injury-related item, Jonathon Niese (sore shoulder) and Bartolo Colon (tight calf) played catch. There is no word when either will throw off a mound next.

Here’s today’s starting line-up against Miami:

Chris Young, cf: Leading off for the second straight game.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, rf: Seems to have fallen off the map.

Andrew Brown, dh: Likely minor league candidate.

Lucas Duda, 1b: Had a hit Friday. Makes first appearance at first.

Zach Lutz, 3b: Replaces Wright again.

Taylor Teagarden, c: Makes first appearance.

Matt den Dekker, lf: Coming back from stomach virus

Anthony Seratelli, 2b: Long-shot to make team.

Omar Quintanilla, ss: Will stick as infield reserve.

John Lannan, lhp: Fifth-starter candidate.

Mar 01

Arguments For John Lannan Being Fifth Starter

Current conventional wisdom has the inside track for the fifth spot in the New York Mets’ rotation belonging to Daisuke Matsuzaka, based primarily on how he finished last season in Flushing.

His competition is John Lannan and Jenrry Mejia, the latter who is coming off elbow surgery. There is sentiment for Mejia to win the job if healthy, but several arguments can be made in favor of Lannan:

* Lannan is left-handed, which would give the Mets two in their rotation. The other is Jonathon Niese, but his balky shoulder could give the Mets pause when it comes to cutting loose Lannan. If Niese isn’t ready, they will need a lefty in their rotation.

* Another consideration is age. At 29, Lannan is four years younger than Matsuzaka. Mejia is 24, but there’s still time for him to crack the rotation. In addition, Mejia has experience as a reliever, and the Mets have questions in their bullpen.

* He has a 45-58 record pitching for some pretty poor Washington teams during his seven-year career, but with a decent 4.12 ERA. Nine of those victories have been against Atlanta, but admittedly a weak 3-13 record against Philadelphia.

* In three out of four years from 2008-2011, Lannan started over 30 games and worked at least 180 innings. By contrast, Matsuzaka has only once started as many as 30 games and worked more than 170 innings during his career.

* Matsuzaka has a career 53-40 record, and seemed to correct his mechanical flaws in his final three starts in 2013 with the Mets. If Matsuzaka has indeed found his rhythm, the Mets could have a valuable trade chip while at the same time keep Lannan.

Lannan will get two innings or 30 pitches today against the Marlins.

The fifth spot remains up for grabs, but Lannan could fill the role while giving Mejia time to recover and work in the bullpen, and provide them a trade asset in Matsuzaka.

That’s a lot to consider.