Mar 08

Mets Wrap: Niese Takes Loss Against Boston

After retiring eight straight hitters to start the game, Mets pitcher Jon Niese gave up three consecutive hits and a walk and left Sunday’s 6-3 loss to Boston after 52 pitches.

It is too early to make a judgment, but a familiar flaw resurfaced, which is Niese’s inability to pitch out of trouble and put away an inning.

On the plus side, Niese worked quickly and showed good command in his first two innings. Also on the plus side, he pitched without pain or discomfort.

NIESE: Decent first start. (AP)

NIESE: Decent first start. (AP)

Regarding his health, Niese told SNY after his outing: “I feel a lot different. All my pitches are working. I’m progressing well and my velocity is up there.’’

A healthy and productive Niese is important because he offers somewhat of a lefty balance to the rotation and eats innings.

MURPHY UPDATE: Daniel Murphy took batting practice Sunday and reported no pain.

Murphy was struck on the right hand by a David Price pitch Friday and is day-to-day.

DUDA NEWS: Lucas Duda, sidelined with a strained left intercostal muscle, has been hitting off a tee and is expected to take batting practice Monday.

Duda might play this week.

OPENING DAY PARTY: The Mets will host a viewing party at Citi Field for their Opening Day game against Washington. The tickets are free, but it will cost you $10 to park. Presumably, concessions will also be available. Tickets can be ordered online at mets.com/watchparty.

EXTRA INNINGS: Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who is out of options and figures to make the team as a back-up outfielder, continued his good spring with a double and two singles. … Center fielder Juan Lagares is nursing a sore right elbow, which is what forced him to end last year early. … Five straight Met relievers walked the first batter they faced. … Mets pitchers walked ten and hit a batter. That will get you beat. … Former Mets first baseman Tony Clark and current MLBPA chief Tony Clark visited camp Sunday. He did not object to the Mets’ payroll or their voluntary-but-really-mandatory offseason workouts. … Zack Wheeler starts for the Mets Monday against Miami at Tradition Field. The game will be broadcast on SNY.

Mar 02

Mets Matters: Looking At Harvey, Left Field And Other Issues

It is way too early for rave reviews, but the first impression of Matt Harvey have been positive. Harvey threw to hitters – who swung this time – Monday morning and the reaction has been good.

Curtis Granderson especially liked Harvey’s command, telling reporters: “The big thing is he went to both sides of the plate really consistently and accurately and effectively. If he did miss, it was a miss that he wanted to make — not toward the middle of the plate.’’

mets-matters logoHarvey is ready, if not anxious.

“Once the hitters start swinging, that’s kind of a sign games are near and the season is coming closer,’’ Harvey said. “For us it’s exciting. Especially being 18 months from a competitive game, it’s a good feeling.’’

This is the last time for Harvey to be scheduled against hitters before Friday’s exhibition game against Detroit.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen said Harvey is slated to throw 35 pitches over two innings Friday, and will not exceed 40 pitches.

DUDA TO SWING THIS WEEK: First baseman Lucas Duda, bothered by a strained left intercostal muscle, could start hitting off a tee this week.

Manager Terry Collins said if that goes well he could start taking batting practice next week.

UP IN THE AIR: Collins hasn’t decided who’ll be his leadoff hitter, but favors Juan Lagares over Granderson.

Collins wants Lagares’ on-base percentage, which was .321 last season, to be in the .330 to .340 range.

Left field is to be determined between Granderson and Michael Cuddyer. Neither is greatly experience in left field, but both say they are willing to play wherever Collins wants. Cuddyer has three career starts in left, while Granderson has 22. Collins will rotate them for two weeks before making a decision.

“Obviously I don’t have much experience, but at the same time there’s no saying that I can’t come over there and learn,’’ Cuddyer told reporters about playing left field. “I take a lot of pride in being an athlete, not just a right fielder or a first baseman. It’s being a baseball player. And the definition of being a baseball player is going out and playing baseball where the manager puts you. So it’s fine with me.’’

You love to hear that stuff.

 

Feb 28

Mets Matters: Collins Prefers Lagares At Leadoff

Mets manager Terry Collins stated a preference today for Juan Lagares over Curtis Granderson as the leadoff hitter.

Lagares has the speed, but strikes out too much and doesn’t have the on-base percentage – at least not yet – needed for that slot in the order. Lagares’ on-base percentage last year was .321 and Collins said he’d like it to be in the .330 to .340 range.

“You’d like it higher, but we’ve got to start with a reachable number for sure,’’ Collins told reporters today in Port St. Lucie.

mets-matters logoTODAY’S PRACTICE RAINED OUT: As they are several times every spring, rain forced the Mets into the inside today.

The Mets have batting cages and pitching mounds under cover, and there’s always a contingency plan for practice inside in case of inclement weather.

Both in good weather and bad, nearly every minute is scripted and accounted for.

HARVEY UPDATE: On the day after throwing 43 pitches to non-swinging hitters Friday, Matt Harvey reported no pain in his surgically-repaired elbow today.

Harvey is expected to throw batting practice Monday and start the March 6 exhibition game against Detroit at Tradition Field.

The Mets’ exhibition schedule begins Wednesday against Atlanta at the Disney complex in Orlando. Dillon Gee is scheduled to start, thereby starting the showcasing.

The Mets will hold an intrasquad game Tuesday.

Feb 24

Mets Matters: Alderson Jabs Flores; Parnell To Throw; Duda Ailing

If I were Wilmer Flores, I’d be hacked off at GM Sandy Alderson. I wouldn’t be happy being Ruben Tejada, either.

Several times Alderson has cracked wise about the Mets’ shortstop situation. The Wall Street Journal reported when Alderson showed up for jury duty he was asked what he did in his free time.

Reportedly, Alderson said: “Well, now I’m looking for a shortstop.’’

I still don’t understand why a general manager would continually undercut his players in public.

mets-matters logo* Today, manager Terry Collins said the Mets would miss Eric Young’s speed. Young’s absence underscores the Mets’ need for a leadoff hitter. Currently, it’s between Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson.

Earlier today, I endorsed Lagares because I believe Granderson’s greater value is as a run producer in the middle of the order.

* Hindered by his wild throwing to bases, the Mets will work hard with reliever Jeurys Familia this spring. The Mets also want Familia to throw more four-seam fastballs, which gives hitters something else to consider.

* Reliever Bobby Parnell is scheduled to throw in the bullpen and pitch to hitters this weekend. As with Matt Harvey, Parnell is coming back from Tommy John surgery. Parnell could throw to hitters on Thursday.

* Lucas Duda sustained a strained left oblique muscle and might not hit for another three days, but will participate in fielding drills.

Feb 24

Leaning Toward Lagares As Leadoff Hitter

The Mets are undecided as their leadoff hitter, with the competition coming down between Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson.

LAGARES: Should get leadoff job. (AP)

LAGARES: Should get leadoff job. (AP)

For my money, I’d rather open the season with Lagares for the simple reason this decision doesn’t only impact the No. 1 spot, but also the middle of the order.

While both players are potential strikeout machines, Granderson offers a higher upside as a run producer in the middle. He has greater power and I’d rather bunch him with Lucas Duda and Michael Cuddyer, than leaving him exposed at the top.

My thinking is Granderson could produce more runs batting sixth than Lagares can leading off.

Both have the speed needed to hit first, but neither is the classic leadoff hitter in that both strike out too much and don’t have high on-base percentages. Both can steal a base, but I’d rather see Granderson’s speed trying to stretch a double in the gap into a triple.

For a team struggling to score runs, this is the best way to go.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Today’s notes.