Mar 18

Mets’ Injury Updates And Today’s Batting Order

The Mets can realistically expect to have three, perhaps four, significant players open the season on the disabled list: David Wright, Johan Santana, Frank Francisco and possibly Daniel Murphy.

Murphy remains sore after playing five innings of defense in a minor league game last Friday. Terry Collins said to expect him to play no sooner than Wednesday, and if he’s not playing by the weekend he’ll open the season on the disabled list. Although Murphy has taken batting practice, he has not played in an exhibition game so he hasn’t faced game pitching.

Wright said he’s shooting for Opening Day, but is uncertain. He’s telling Collins he’s ready, but that could be wishful thinking. Since this has been fouled up enough as it is, the prudent thing is to make the decision to DL him where he’ll miss the least amount of time. That includes playing him in minor league games if he’s available to get on the field before Opening Day. If Wright were to play in major league spring training games and be injured, his DL time would be backdated from then.

Justin Turner, the projected third baseman while Wright is down, hopes to play by Thursday after spraining his right ankle last week. X-Rays were negative and he’s moving around, so the disabled list is unlikely,

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who is out with a bruised left knee, hopes to bat in a minor league game today, but will not run the bases. That means no inside-the-park homers.

The following is today’s lineup against St. Louis at Jupiter:

Jordany Valdespin, cf: It is clear he has made the team, with his versatility being an asset. He’s also been hot at the plate, with another homer yesterday. Will play second if Murphy is not ready.

Ruben Tejada, ss: Hit well last year, but is on a miserable stretch this spring. Is it a slump or regression?

Lucas Duda, lf: Not hitting as the Mets hoped. Will bat lower in the order during the season. Strike outs and low on-base percentage remain issues.

Zach Lutz, lb: Wright’s injury has given him an outside chance of sticking early.

Matt den Dekker, rf: He would have a spot if he could hit.

Brandon Hicks, 3b: Getting the audition while Turner is ailing.

Omar Quintanilla, 2b: With injuries to Wright, Murphy and Turner, his versatility is a definite plus.

Matt Harvey, rhp: Lining up as the No. 2 starter behind Jon Niese.

Also pitching today for the Mets are LaTroy Hawkins, who looks like he’ll make it in the set-up role. Bobby Parnell will also go today as will Josh Edgin and Scott Rice.

 

Mar 18

Wright, Santana, Murphy And Duda Among Mets’ Questions As Opening Day Looms

Here we are, two weeks from Opening Day and the Mets still have a myriad of questions that can’t be answered by Google. Perhaps they should get a Celebrity Apprentice from Trump to fill in the holes.

Jon Niese was superb in yesterday’s loss to the Braves and we know he’ll get the ball that first day against San Diego regardless of the Mets’ refusal to acknowledge anything negative about Johan Santana, who is among their many questions.

Q: What will the Mets get, and when, from Santana?

A: Considering it had been almost two weeks since his ill-fated mound attempt to quell the negativity from the Mets and media that Santana has done any significant throwing, it is anybody’s guess. Maybe next week, maybe the week after, but he will open the season on the disabled list regardless of his rate of denial. The Mets would dearly love to trade his $31 million contract, but the fact is they’ll have to eat over $20 million to do so. Might as well let him rest and hope for the best.

Q: Will David Wright open the season on the disabled list?

A: Technically, today is the third day of the three to five Wright will have to rest. He has received a cortisone injection in his strained ribs since coming back from the World Baseball Classic. Injuries of this type often last a month, as Wright learned last spring. Maybe he would have gotten hurt just the same in a regular spring training, but that doesn’t change the fact the odds are against Opening Day.

Q: How good is Matt Harvey?

A: He’s been good this spring, but has also thrown the occasional dud. He has ten major league starts on his resume, but the expectations of a proven veteran. The other teams have scouting reports, too, so don’t be shocked if he takes some lumps early.

Q: How healthy is Dillon Gee?

A: He says he has fully recovered from surgery to repair an artery in his pitching shoulder, but has been off this spring. He could use another three or four starts to get all the rust off, but there’s not enough time.

Q: What can the Mets expect from Shaun Marcum and fifth starter Jeremy Hefner?

A: Considering Marcum will not make six exhibition starts, don’t be too optimistic. At this rate, the Mets will be fortunate to get five innings from either of them. The back end of the rotation is clearly a weakness.

Q: Will Lucas Duda hit for power?

A: Let’s rephrase that: Will he substantially cut his strikeouts? He’s had a rough spring showing little of his power potential. When he hits them, he hits them far. Just not often enough.

Q: Who starts in center field?

A: Kirk Nieuwenhuis spit the bit early, and then was hurt. He was the projected starter and leadoff hitter, but now is ticketed for Triple-A Las Vegas. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Let’s hope that includes his bad habits at the plate. We’re looking at Collin Cowgill as the starter and Jordany Valdespin making the team. They can use Matt den Dekker’s defense, but want more from him at the plate.

Q: Will Daniel Murphy be ready?

A: Murphy had one of those “seven to ten days’’ rib injuries that has lasted a month. He played five innings of defense in a minor league game three days ago, but has been stiff since. The early word is Wednesday of this week, but we know how such projections go with the Mets. It is possible Valdespin will start at second while Justin Turner is at third Opening Day. Excited yet?

Q: What is the make-up of the bullpen?

A: Bobby Parnell is the closer and he’s taken some hits this spring. Josh Edgin is the lefty specialist, but Pedro Feliciano is making a run. He’s one of several veterans hoping to extend their careers with the Mets.

Q: Will they add anybody before the end of spring training?

A: Don’t count on it.

Mar 16

Justin Turner Hurt, Marcum Solid In Defeat, Injury Updates

They wouldn’t be the Mets if things came easily. So, on the day after losing third baseman David Wright indefinitely, they lost his back-up, Justin Turner, to a sprained ankle.

Turner was injured in the fourth inning of today’s 4-2 loss to Miami, when after fielding a ground ball, his left leg buckled while making a wild throw and he landed awkwardly on his right ankle.

“I think just getting up, going to make a throw, I caught my front spike on the lip of the grass,’’ Turner told reporters. “In order to try to catch my balance, all my weight went on my right foot and I turned it over.’’

Turner will know more in the morning when he wakes up and sees how much it swells up. Whether it swells or not, it will be at least a couple of days.

Brandon Hicks replaced Turner, and now Zach Lutz is next in line.

“However long it takes to get back out there, missing those days of play, sucks,’’ Turner said. “I guess the most important thing is getting back to 100 percent and getting ready for Opening Day.’’

MARCUM SOLID: In his third start of the spring, Shaun Marcum gave up two runs on five hits in four innings.

Marcum did not get off to a good start with the Mets when he told Terry Collins he needed only four starts to get ready for the season and spent the first two weeks long tossing to build up his arm.

Marcum said his mechanics feel more natural. “I feel like I’m starting to repeat them a lot more,’’ he said. “Other than that, now it’s just starting to mix in some more pitches.’’

Marcum isn’t overpowering and said his money pitch is a cutter, which he hasn’t yet refined.

PERPETUAL PEDRO:  During his first tenure with the Mets, Pedro Feliciano earned the nickname “Perpetual Pedro,’’ because it seemed as if he pitched every night.

Feliciano was re-signed by the Mets over the winter to a minor league contract in an attempt to land a spot in their patchwork bullpen.

A heart ailment sidelined Feliciano early in camp, but he has rebounded and is throwing in the mid- to low 80s. Today he worked a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts and has a real chance to make the team as the second lefty in the pen with Josh Edgin.

METS MUSINGS: Reliever Frank Francisco threw in the bullpen, but remains behind in an effort to be ready for the season. The timetable is to make at least two more bullpen sessions before throwing batting practice. That should eat up the remaining two weeks before the season, so it still appears likely he will open the season on the disabled list. … An injury also derailed Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ spring. Penciled in as the leadoff hitter in center. Nieuwenhuis bruised his left knee two weeks ago. He is participating in outfield drills and taking batting practice but needs to run the bases and play in games. … The Mets aren’t calling it a setback, but the day after playing defense in a minor league game Daniel Murphy did not play today, saying he felt stiff.

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 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.