Jeremy Hefner, the likely replacement for Johan Santana in the rotation, gave up two homers this afternoon but rebounded to strike out the last six hitters he faced in the Mets’ 5-2 victory over Atlanta.
Hefner had a solid line of two runs on five hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in five innings.
HEFNER: Solid outing today.
Even so, Hefner wasn’t pleased, telling reporters he was concerned because he left the ball up in the strike zone. Hefner said he pitched with a chip on his shoulder the last two innings.
“I was less than thrilled about my performance before then,’’ Hefner said. “The ball was up, as evidenced by all the fly balls and hard-hit balls. I’m the guy that has to pound the bottom of the strike zone and get ground balls to be successful.’’
Hefner said earlier this week he will be ready to replace Santana at the start of the season but that’s my focus.
Here’s today’s Mets lineup against Detroit at Lakleland.
Jordany Valdespin, 2b
Ruben Tejada, ss
Ike Davis, 1b
Lucas Duda, lf
Mike Baxter, rf
John Buck, c
Travis d’Arnaud, dh
Matt den Dekker, cf
Brandon Hicks, 3b
Jonathan Niese, lhp
LINEUP COMMENTS: The Mets are giving Valdespin every chance to make this team. His versatility helps him. He’s at second today and has played center and right this spring also. … Duda had three hits the other day against Houston. He’s in left today hitting behind Davis. I am wondering if Terry Collins will stack the two lefties during the season. … den Dekker again in center. He’s Mets’ best defensive outfielder, but they don’t know if he’ll hit enough. He has five hits, including a homer this spring.
Zack Wheeler was one of the ten the Mets re-assigned to the minor league camp this morning.
In addition to Wheeler, also sent down were: Collin McHugh, Gonzalez Germen, Darin Gorski, Elvin Ramirez, Wilfredo Tovar, Hansel Robles, Juan Lagares, Cesar Puello and Reese Havens.
WHEELER: Sent down today.
The highly-touted prospect acquired from San Francisco for Carlos Beltran two years ago expressed disappointment, but not surprise at the demotion. After all, GM Sandy Alderson has said several times Wheeler would not be rushed.
“I expected it,’’ said Wheeler. “They told me this at the start of spring training.’’
Wheeler, who has been sidelined with a strained oblique, threw off the mound this morning at Port St. Lucie.
Pitching coach Dan Warthen spoke with Wheeler this morning to offer some homework advice.
“I told him to work on his secondary pitches and fastball command on both sides of the plate,’’ Warthen said.
Here’s today’s lineup against the Cardinals:
Marlon Byrd, rf
Justin Turner, 2b
Collin Cowgill, cf
Lucas Duda, dh
Andrew Brown, lf
Brandon Hicks, 3b
Zach Lutz, 1b
Landon Powell, c
Omar Quintanilla, ss
Shaun Marcum, rhp
Good Saturday morning. A little talk in the clubhouse about the USA losing last night to Mexico. The operative word being “little.’’
I’ve only been here a few days, but trust me on this one, after doing 20 some spring trainings the days are usually all alike. We’re usually in the clubhouse by 7:45 in the morning, sometimes earlier depending on where the game is that day.
The first thing most players do is head straight to a corner wall where the lineup is posted. Most guys know the night before if they’ll be playing, but it is a force of habit for many.
The Mets’ clubhouse has changed over the years. Once shamed about not honoring their past, photos of Mets’ alumni are plastered over the walls. Tom Seaver, Ed Kranepool, Darryl Strawberry, Keith Hernandez, Dwight Gooden, Mookie Wilson and Jerry Koosman.
Always fun to look at.
Jordany Valdespin sat by his locker, his eyes glued to a television showing Phillies-Nationals highlights. However, his mind seemed elsewhere, but apparently not on his quest to be the Opening Day leadoff hitter in center.
“They have a decision to make, and the only thing I can do is keep playing hard and give them something to think about,’’ Valdespin said. “I can’t make the decision. I have to play hard and see what happens in spring training.’’
Valdespin rarely made eye contact, instead kept on watching the television.