Mar 11

Jordany Valdespin Making Impact

Jordany Valdespin is not an easy person to like, and especially hard to cheer for. Ask a question and he’ll often mumble an indifferent and inaudible answer.

VALDESPIN: Decked by Verlander (AP)

VALDESPIN: Decked by Verlander (AP)

He exudes confidence on the field, but crosses the line with a brash attitude, tendency to showboat and not always hustle. Off the field he wears a bright red baseball cap reading “JV 1.’’ He often carries himself  with an “I own the world,” persona that goes beyond confidence, so much that manager Terry Collins has warned him to tone it down a notch.

Last year, Valdespin fell out of favor with the Mets despite hitting five pinch-hit homers. He didn’t help himself in the offseason when he was suspended in winter ball. Even so, with Kirk Nieuwenhuis out with a bruised left knee and Daniel Murphy sidelined with a strained right side, Valdespin is being given every opportunity to make the roster in the outfield or as a second baseman.

Valdespin has produced, but with a caveat: He plays to his own soundtrack.

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Mar 09

Johan Santana Misses Practice For Treatment

Have you seen Johan Santana?

I found Waldo, but Santana remains among the missing.

WALDO: Have you seen Santana?

WALDO: Have you seen Santana?

That is the question of the day as the increasingly moody left-hander was nowhere to be found despite being scheduled to work out.

Santana has been irritated since the weekend when he threw an unscheduled bullpen session. Manager Terry Collins was unaware and suggested it might be in response to the suggestion by GM Sandy Alderson he wasn’t in top shape when he reported.

Santana, even with his string of injuries that would make anybody depressed, has usually been accessible and friendly. Now, he doesn’t acknowledge hello and blows off the simplest of questions.

Collins excused Santana from today’s workout when the pitcher said he felt it would be better off if he concentrated on physical therapy, such as stretching out his arm.

“We are day to day with him,’’ Collins said. “He’s ready when he’s ready.’’

Collins doesn’t have a date set, but it is closing in on time for a decision to put Santana on the disabled and let Jeremy Hefner prepare himself for Santana’s spot of the staff and Jon Niese to prepare to start Opening Day.

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Mar 08

Mets In Lakeland To Face Tigers; Gee Gets Ball

Good morning from Lakeland. Just arrived. The drive was a little over two hours, straight highways all the way through past Yeehaw Junction, dozens of orange groves, junkyards, farms and dilapidated motels.

The weather is nice, but it wasn’t a pretty drive.

The Tigers play in a place called Joker Marchant Stadium, built in 1966. It has been renovated several times. There’s a hill behind the left field fence, much like what the Mets have at Tradition Field in right.

The Mets’ bus just arrived and I’ll be heading to the clubhouse in a few minutes. The Tigers are taking batting practice and there’s only a few people in the stands.

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Mar 07

Matt Harvey Overpowering In Mets’ Win

Here it was, the fifth inning and Terry Collins was sending out Matt Harvey again. With his pitch count down, Collins had sent Harvey out for the fourth and was doing it again.

Harvey’s command was that good.

HARVEY: Brilliant today.

HARVEY: Brilliant today.

“I was very impressed (by his pitch count),’’ Collins said. “If he’s going to pitch 215 innings, he’ll be getting deep into games and pitching to contact.’’

A lot of things will have to click for that to happen, notably his change-up. In today’s 4-1 victory over Miami, most everything did with his change-up being superb.

“Awesome,’’ was how catcher Anthony Recker described it. “He had solid command of everything. He was getting ahead of them. Everything was working well. He was definitely locked in.’’

Harvey threw 48 pitches, 35 for strikes. He struck out five and didn’t allow a hit. The Marlins’ only runner came on an error.

“If I’m going to pitch seven, eight innings, I need to have a decent walks-to-strikeouts ratio,’’ said Harvey, who spent a lot of time before this start studying video of his change-up.

“That was something I was looking at from the video,’’ Harvey said. “I was concentrating on staying back. I threw a lot of good ones.’’

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Mar 07

Zack Wheeler, Frank Francisco Injury Updates

Zack Wheeler said today is the first time he felt exceptionally good since straining his right oblique.

WHEELER: Feeling better.

WHEELER: Feeling better.

“Today was the first day I felt 100 percent,’’ Wheeler said. “ Every day leading up to today it felt a little better. It was 100 percent today.’’

Wheeler said he threw all his pitches at about 75 effort, but “I let it out a few times.’’

The plan is for him to rest for two days before throwing another bullpen. Ideally, they’d like to get him in a game sometime next week, but it is dependent on how he responds from this.

Wheeler will open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas even if Johan Santana is not ready for Opening Day.

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