Mar 18

March 18.10: What’s Jerry’s thinking about the fifth starter?

With most managers, at least those with security, their objectives are a balance between winning today and building for the future. That can’t be said for the Mets’ Jerry Manuel, who has joked about the importance of a fast start for the preservation of his job.

There’s truth in humor.

Manuel presided over the late season collapse of 2008 and full season free fall of 2009, and knows the Mets must contend, if not get to the playoffs and win a round, if he’s to return next year. Manuel’s job is on the line, and with it there’s a sense of urgency of being competitive immediately.

Given that, it stands to reason Manuel’s decisions, like that of choosing his fifth starter, will be to give him the best chance of winning now as opposing for building for the future, because quite simply, he has no guarantee of a future.

Manuel’s comments the other day that he’d like to see Hisanori Takahashi start a game this spring suggests strongly he’s being seriously considered for the fifth starter role. Takahashi has been superb in six scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out nine.

“What we have seen so far is he really has the ability to pitch and pitch with all his pitches,” Manuel said. “He probably is our sharpest pitcher right now, as far as everything hitting where he wants it to hit.”

If not Takahashi, then perhaps Fernando Nieve. Nelson Figueroa will be sent out to clear waivers, and Jon Niese, who went into spring training the favorite, will be sent out because he has options remaining.

Niese might be the fifth starter down the road, but Manuel doesn’t have the luxury of letting him learn on the job. As long as Takahashi is getting batters out, the Mets have a chance to win, and that means Manuel has a better chance to stick around.

Mar 15

March 15.10: Not pleased with Maine.

Not at all pleased with John Maine’s explanation for his horrendous performance yesterday afternoon. Maine gave up five runs on three hits and three walks while facing only eight Marlins.

“My mechanics felt fine. I just I wasn’t into it,’’ Maine told reporters.

Huh?

“The feeling that it wasn’t my game as a starter – that was the hardest thing. It’s a waste of a day… I was up, down, I can’t put my finger on exactly what was wrong. My delivery was fine. I was rushing a little. But that’s normal when you haven’t pitched in a while.’’

It might not have been his day as a starter, but it was his day as a Mets pitcher and there can never be any excuse for going through the motions. Never.

There was too much of that last year and if this spring is about starting fresh, there can’t be that kind of attitude.

The Mets’ pitching is suspect enough as it is and they can’t afford to have pitchers throw away their games even if it isn’t in the role they desire.

Maine is supposed to be one of the pitchers the team is looking up to and he has to come up bigger than this.

NOTEBOOK: Francisco Rodriguez, out with pink eye, will make his debut today. … The following were sent to the minor league camp: R.A. Dickey, Josh Fogg, Josh Thole and Eric Neissen.

Here’s today’s line-up vs. St. Louis:

Luis Castillo, 2B
Ruben Tejada, SS
David Wright, 3B
Mike Jacobs, 1B
Jason Bay, LF
Fernando Martinez, CF
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
Fernando Nieve, RP

Followed by: Jon Niese, Francisco Rodriguez, Pat Misch, Sean Green, Tobi Stoner and Elmer Dessens.

Mar 13

March 13.10: Perez tries to improve vs. Tigers.

The Mets liked that Oliver Perez threw strikes is his first start. It would have been nice if he’d gotten some hitters out. The Mets need to see improvement today from Perez in his start against Detroit.

The Mets’ projected rotation of Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Perez, John Maine and Jon Niese have all worked, with only Maine pitching effectively. But, it’s early and still time for the others to get into a grove.

Perez is coming off a miserable start last Sunday against Washington in which he gave up five runs on seven hits in three innings.

Perez did come out of the start with not problems to his right knee (offseason surgery) and that he threw 33 of 49 pitches for strikes.

Here’s today’s line-up against Detroit:

Angel Pagan, LF
Luis Castillo, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Jason Bay, DH
Daniel Murphy, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Gary Matthews, CF
Rod Barajas, C
Alex Cora, SS

Perez will be followed by Hisanori Takahashi, Nelson Figueroa, Sean Green and Bobby Parnell. If it works out where innings are available, Jenrry Mejia will pitch.

Mar 10

March 10.10: Reyes update/line-ups.

Jose Reyes has a case of hyperthyroidism, said his agent, Peter Greenberg said. “We’re waiting for the final results tomorrow,’’ Greenberg told the Times. “But, all indications are that it’s the most minimal case of hyperthyroidism possible. The doctor is very pleased and so is Jose.’’

Reyes later told reporters that his thyroid is fine. I don’t believe this is two different stories as much as it is Reyes getting positive news and downplaying things.

Reyes could resume working out in a few days.

For the all the criticism the Mets have received about injuries, they did well here. Reyes was pulled immediately at the suspicion of something wrong and were forthright in giving information.

Positive news on Francisco Rodriguez. Threw in the bullpen this morning and will throw BP Friday. If all goes well look for him Monday.

Jon Niese, who has the leg up on the fifth starter position, starts today against the Braves in Orlando.

Here’s the line-up:

Jason Pridie, CF

Ruben Tejada, 2B

Daniel Murphy, 1B

Mike Hessman, 3B

Chris Carter, DH

Omir Santos, C

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, RF

Jolbert Cabrera, LF

Russ Adams, SS

Working out of the pen will be Fernando Nieve, Nelson Figueroa, Bobby Parnell, Eddie Kunz and Eric Niesen.

Mar 04

March 4.10: Notebook: Reyes update.

* Jose Reyes was scratched from today’s game for additional bloodwork. Reyes has subsequently cleared to play and will take batting practice later today. The Mets said scratch had nothing to do with his hamstring injury.

The Mets are home to St. Louis tomorrow and Reyes is expected in the line-up.

* Closer Francisco Rodriguez is still bothered by a case of pink eye and has not been cleared. Considering relievers need far less time to get ready for the season there is no worry Rodriguez will be set back to where there is a concern.

* The Mets have set their rotation through Tuesday. Jon Niese will start tomorrow against the Cardinals, followed by Mike Pelfrey, Saturday against Washington at Viera; Oliver Perez, Sunday against Washington at Port St. Lucie; John Maine, Monday against Florida at Jupiter; and Johan Santana, Tuesday against Houston at Port St. Lucie.