Mar 01

Mets Wrap: Good News On Lannan, Parnell; Duda Homers

On the bright side for the New York Mets, Lucas Duda homered and has hit the ball hard in the first two exhibition games.

He didn’t pitch in the game, but closer Bobby Parnell threw batting practice, and said, “I’ll be good to go,’’ when asked about being ready for Opening Day.

Also, fifth-starter candidate John Lannan threw two scoreless innings in his first game action since undergoing surgery to repair a tendon linking the thigh muscles to his left knee.

“I was just grateful to be back out there and feel pretty good,’’ Lannan said.

Other than that, there wasn’t much positive Saturday for the Mets, who lost 9-1 to the Marlins, including Kyle Farnsworth, 37, who gave up a homer and whose fastball was 88 mph.

But, it is early.

Mar 01

Bobby Parnell Throws BP; Line-ups Against Miami

New York Mets closer Bobby Parnell said he cleared a “mental hurdle’’ after throwing a 35-pitch batting practice this morning. Parnell threw to David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Eric Young. He threw a mix of curveballs and fastballs.

Parnell was especially satisfied with his command, and that he experienced no discomfort when he followed batted balls with his head.

“Going early like this, you don’t expect to be perfect,’’ Parnell told reporters. “By no means was I, but everything was down and I feel like I can work off that really well. … I didn’t know how I’d react to balls off the bat. I try not to do a lot of herky-jerky stuff with my neck.’’

Incidentally, Parnell’s session marked the first on-field work for Young, who had been sidelined with a strained muscle in his side.

Young is not expected to play in an exhibition game until early next week.

In another injury-related item, Jonathon Niese (sore shoulder) and Bartolo Colon (tight calf) played catch. There is no word when either will throw off a mound next.

Here’s today’s starting line-up against Miami:

Chris Young, cf: Leading off for the second straight game.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, rf: Seems to have fallen off the map.

Andrew Brown, dh: Likely minor league candidate.

Lucas Duda, 1b: Had a hit Friday. Makes first appearance at first.

Zach Lutz, 3b: Replaces Wright again.

Taylor Teagarden, c: Makes first appearance.

Matt den Dekker, lf: Coming back from stomach virus

Anthony Seratelli, 2b: Long-shot to make team.

Omar Quintanilla, ss: Will stick as infield reserve.

John Lannan, lhp: Fifth-starter candidate.

Feb 27

The Mets’ Ambivalence Towards Ruben Tejada Opens Door For Flores

Of all the young New York Mets, the one I am most interested in seeing is Wilmer Flores, especially at shortstop. While Ruben Tejada is the starter by default, Flores has a legitimate shot with a strong spring to grab a job.

FLORES: Has opportunity to earn job (Getty)

FLORES: Has opportunity to earn job (Getty)

As the Mets monitor Stephen Drew’s interest and Seattle for Nick Franklin’s availability, it is clear they aren’t sold on Tejada. That makes it no better time than now for Flores to surface.

As team officials continue to portray Tejada as the most likely starter on Opening Day, they acknowledge those two other possibilities and are showing a declining enthusiasm for the incumbent.

A hot spring from Flores could make things interesting if the Mets don’t make an acquisition, especially if he shows something defensively.

The rap on Flores is he doesn’t have the first-step quickness in moving laterally. He also doesn’t have a lot of speed, but shortstops don’t have to be fast. Flores attended the same Michigan fitness camp as Tejada and reports are he improved his straight-ahead speed and lateral quickness.

However, for the offensively-challenged Mets, Flores’ upside is greater than Tejada’s. Flores drove in 13 runs in 27 games last season, which projected over a 162-game schedule is 78 RBI. In contrast, Tejada’s 162-game average is a mere 40.

In addition, as a spray hitter, Tejada’s career on-base percentage is only .323 and his 162-game average is 87 strikeouts.

Flores played shortstop in the minors until 2011, but because of the range issue, the Mets started playing him at third, second and first. All this begs the question: With all the ways prospects are measured, couldn’t they have figured out his range limitations?

Flores’ value to the Mets would be to show something at shortstop, because he is a man without a position and despite his supposed offensive abilities, never hit more than 18 homers (2012) in the minors.

His best season was at Triple-A Las Vegas in 2013 when he hit .321 with a .357 on-base percentage, 15 homers and 86 RBI.

As the Mets consider Drew and Franklin – neither is imminent – this is the perfect time for Flores to make a statement.

Although Flores has experienced every position in the infield, shortstop is the one with the most potential for a breakthrough. Barring injuries, he won’t supplant David Wright at third or Daniel Murphy at second this year.

Who knows what could happen at first base? I floated the idea last year they might cut loose both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda and go with Flores at first base.

That’s not imminent, either.

 

Feb 25

Wrapping The Day: Ike Davis’ Motivation; Tejada Not Answer

Some people don’t get. It was reported by one Internet writer he was happy with the verbal sparring by Ike Davis with a reporter, saying it might “fire up,’’ the non-slugging first baseman.

The point is as a professional athlete Davis needs more than an argument with a writer for motivation. If Davis needs it and must use an external force for inspiration he’s in the wrong profession and the Mets have more trouble than they think.

Reportedly, the Pirates are monitoring the Mets’ camp about Davis, but are also looking at other possibilities.

In addition:

* The Mets haven’t closed the door on signing free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew or trading for Seattle’s Nick Franklin.

* Rafael Montero, Friday’s starter in the exhibition opener against Washington, threw live batting practice.

* Reserve catcher Anthony Recker told ESPN he’s in favor of the rules prohibiting catchers from blocking the plate.

* It is expected Josh Satin will play against left-handers regardless of whether Davis or Lucas Duda play first. Of course, Satin needs his at-bats, but if there’s a strict platoon at first base neither Davis nor Duda will develop into a real hitter.

 

Feb 21

Terry Collins Alludes To Outfield Roster Cuts

The New York Mets haven’t played an exhibition game yet and already manager Terry Collins is hinting at several roster cuts.

With a congested outfield, Collins suggested Matt den Dekker – arguably the best defensive outfielder in the organization – Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Andrew Brown and Cesar Puello beginning the year at Triple-A Las Vegas.

It is also conceivable Juan Lagares will open the season in the minor leagues. Collins is very high on den Dekker.

“One of the things we’re very lucky with, when you come into camp and you have the likes of the outfield we have right now, they’re so athletic. They can all run,’’ Collins told reporters today in Port St. Lucie. “Matt is in that [group]. He is still very, very highly thought of – a tremendous defender, as we know.

“One of the things you’ve seen in his career, he gets to a level and he may have a rough time in the beginning. And the next time he goes to that same level he advances. And we’re hoping the same thing occurs now, that he now knows what’s expected at the major-league level, what kind of pitching he’s going to see, what adjustments he has to make.

“I think Matt den Dekker is still a huge prospect here. It gives us an ample amount of insurance.’’

While Collins said den Dekker will need at-bats, the same applies for Lagares. Should Eric Young start over him, where will Lagares get his at-bats?

The Mets currently have three players competing for on outfield position. Curtis Granderson and Chris Young are givens, leaving Eric Young, Lagares and Lucas Duda for the other spot.

Should Lagares be optioned, Duda is not a viable outfield reserve and definitely can’t play center. That might force Collins to re-think Nieuwenhuis or Brown.