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 27

Mets Matters: Harvey Sharp In Throw Session

Matt Harvey threw two 20-pitch sessions to hitters without pain Friday and is on track to start, March 6, against Detroit.

Harvey threw to David Wright, Michael Cuddyer, Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy, who only tracked pitches and did not swing.

Harvey couldn’t be happier.

“It was awesome,’’ Harvey told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “You step in the box and you have David in there, it’s a good feeling to have that and be back. I couldn’t feel better. It was a good day.

“The biggest thing today is getting used to having somebody in there and getting that feel of somebody standing in the box. Obviously them not swinging, you don’t quite get all the feel of what you need to work on or exactly what is working at the time and what isn’t.’’

Wright liked what he saw: “The biggest thing was it looked like the ball was coming out pretty free and easy. You could see the smile on his face from him being happy to be back out there. As a teammate and a friend, I was happy he was able to get back out there.’’

COLON COULD GET OPENING DAY START: ESPN reported Bartolo Colon could get the Opening Day start, which would be the seventh of his career.

He would make the most sense because he’s used to the buzz and was the Mets’ most dependable starter last season, winning 15 games and working over 200 innings.

EXTRA INNINGS: Manager Terry Collins said Wright, Murphy, Cuddyer and Granderson would sit out the first few exhibition games.

Feb 27

All Eyes On Harvey Today

The longest journey begins with a single step and Matt Harvey will take another one today when he throws to hitters for the first time this spring. The toast of New York two years ago when he captured the town’s imagination with his blazing fastball and grit, will again have all eyes on him.

HARVEY: All eyes on him this morning. (AP)

HARVEY: All eyes on him this morning. (AP)

Harvey last pitched, Aug. 24, 2013, when he left in pain with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. Two months later, after much deliberation and against his initial hopes, he underwent elbow surgery.

Harvey’s rehab has included long-tossing, throwing off the mound – including to non-swinging hitters. Today, non-swinging batters will look back at him. However, as it was with Bobby Parnell on Thursday, the batters will just track pitches to give Harvey a feel for what it’s like.

Harvey told reporters: “How these things usually go is guys will stand in and kind of watch, monitor and track pitches – which guys did last year. I think once they start really getting the counts and have somebody behind there [umpiring], I think that’s when [the significance] will start.’’

Well, that’s totally not true, as it will be highly significant if Harvey walks off the mound this morning without any pain. The book on Harvey is he pushes the envelope and the last thing the Mets want is for him to push it beyond what is scheduled. He doesn’t need to prove he can still throw hard or drop off a 12-to-6 curveball.

Just get in, get out, get iced, answer the questions you’ve anticipated for nearly 18 months and prepare for your March 6 exhibition start against Detroit.

ON DECK:  What went on with Lucas Duda?

 

Feb 26

Exhibition Rotation Announced

You can’t read anything, such as who will be the Opening Day starter, into manager Terry Collins’ announcement this afternoon about his spring training rotation:

Wednesday, March 4, at Atlanta: Dillon Gee with no mention of who will follow him.

Thursday, March 5, at Washington: Bartolo Colon with Gabriel Ynoa in relief.

Friday, March 6, Detroit at Port St. Lucie: Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard. The game will be televised by SNY.

Saturday, March 7, Atlanta at Port St. Lucie: Jacob deGrom with Matt Bowman in relief. This is a split squad game, with Steven Matz and Rafael Montero working against Miami.

There is no mention when Jon Niese and Zack Wheeler pitch.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Today’s notebook.

Feb 25

Mets Matters: Syndergaard Motivated

I really like what Noah Syndergaard told reporters in Port St. Lucie about his reaction to not being called up at the end of last season.

Realistically, it wasn’t going to happen as to protect his Super Two status.

mets-matters logoAfter getting the call from GM Sandy Alderson, Syndergaard refused to sulk, but instead used it a source of motivation.

“It was kind of heartbreaking,” Syndergaard told ESPN. “I went home, let things relax a little bit, and then got back in my workout program and just enjoyed time in the offseason.

“But it was disappointing. To be in the big leagues has been my dream ever since I was a little kid. … I use it as a little extra motivation, because I don’t want to hear that phone call again.’’

Syndergaard is expected to open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas and join the Mets in June.

Syndergaard, 22, needs to develop a secondary pitch because scouts say he relies too much on his outstanding fastball. Normally, pitchers move up to the next level when they begin dominating the competition, something he did not do evidenced by his 2014 Vegas numbers: 9-7, 4.60 ERA and 1.481 WHIP in 26 starts.

By his own admission, Syndergaard said he wasn’t ready.

“Being in Triple-A, you’ve got guys who have been in the big leagues for a number of seasons. So they can hit a fastball,’’ Syndergaard said. “Hitting is timing, and pitching is throwing off timing. If you throw three fastballs on the heart of the plate, they’re going to time one up.’’

Nobody knows how good Syndergaard will be, but he has the right idea.

HARVEY TO THROW FRIDAY: Matt Harvey’s come back from Tommy John surgery will take another step Friday when he throws to hitters for the first time.

The plan is to take batting practice, but there’s even the chance the hitters won’t even swing, but to stand at the plate to re-acclimate him to having a batter in the box.

DUDA UPDATE: Lucas Duda’s side injury has been changed from a strained oblique to a intercostal muscle. He’s not expected to resume swinging until Friday.

ON DECK TOMORROW: Among other things, I’ll project the Mets’ Opening Day roster.