Mar 10

Mets Do Right Thing In Demoting Zack Wheeler

Even without the oblique injury, Zack Wheeler would be opening the season in the minor leagues, which was always the proper decision.

Maybe he wouldn’t have been sent down today with nine others, but as spring training goes on and the need to stretch out the starters increases, Wheeler’s innings would have been reduced, something the Mets did not want to happen.

WHEELER: Heading for Vegas.

WHEELER: Heading for Vegas.

Since he is better off getting regular innings, today’s demotion was inevitable. With the oblique hampering him, there’s no sense in trying to squeeze him in. He’s better off resuming a normal routine in the minor league camp, where he’ll throw in the bullpen again before getting into a game.

There’s always the possibility of Wheeler pitching in a “B” game, but for now he’s in the right place for his development. The Mets have long been accused of rushing pitchers – see Mike Pelfrey and Jenrry Mejia – and as they are building again they can’t afford to make a similar mistake with Wheeler, regardless how he feels.

“It’s the big leagues, of course I want to be here,’’ Wheeler said. “I’m not surprised. They told me this could happen.’’

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Mar 08

Dillon Gee Takes Mound Today Against Detroit

They all can’t throw like Matt Harvey this time of spring.

Overpowering and arguably flawless in yesterday’s start against Miami, Harvey had one of those seamless starts pitchers rarely have in their third spring training game.

GEE: Continues comeback today.

GEE: Continues comeback today.

Dillon Gee, today’s starter against Detroit in Lakeland, has no such illusions.

“My mechanics are off,’’ Gee said. “It will be just my third start of the spring, so they are bound to be off. Spring training is for trying to figure out that kind of stuff.’’

Gee insists it is not an injury-related mechanical problem, but a matter of working off the rust that is a natural occurrence this time of year. It’s part of the process of getting ready to make 30 stars a summer.

“It’s all about location,’’ said Gee as he laced up his shoes while sitting at his locker yesterday afternoon. “Location is all about repetition early in spring training. I’m trying to refine everything.’’

As it is with Harvey and Jon Niese, Gee said mastering his change-up is the pitch he most needs to refine that will tell him if he’s ready to start the season. A change-up is thrown with the same motion as the fastball, and even though the pitcher uses the same grip, he releases the pitch with a different pressure on the ball.

“The change-up is such a feel pitch,’’ Gee said. “It takes time to feel comfortable with it. … Having good results would be good, but the important thing is to feel comfortable with all my pitches and improve my location.’’

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Mar 07

Jordany Valdespin Saying Right Things

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.

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Mar 07

Harvey And d’Arnaud Could Be A Long Time Team

Matt Harvey in PSL (Photo credit: Larry Marano, NY Post)There’s a twinge of anticipation this morning as Matt Harvey gets the ball today against the Miami Marlins. Stephen Strasburg is an exceptional talent in Washington, but in Harvey the Mets also have a young arm this franchise can build around.

If there’s one thing the Mets are noted for it is the development of young pitchers. Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan, Dwight Gooden and now Harvey.

How long, or now successful he will become is one of baseball’s delightful mysteries because this could be the start of something special.

“I am excited about getting the chance to work and grow with him,’’ said catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, who isn’t in the lineup today against the Marlins “It has been fun so far.’’

Harvey is coming off a start in which he and d’Arnaud were crossed up, but there was a show of poise on both parts as they met at the mound to get their signs correct.

“It’s a matter of trust,’’ d’Arnaud said. “He has to trust what I put down, and he has to trust himself that it is the right pitch.’’

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Mar 06

Terry Collins Not Worried About Johan Santana

terry collins baby

COLLINS: Says he is eye to eye with Santana.

This time, Terry Collins knew what Johan Santana was doing and seemingly both are on the same page, even though the left-hander was mum today on both his throwing and the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

After mugging with several friends on the Venezuelan WBC team, Santana long-tossed in the outfield, and followed that with several pitches off the mound from where he fielded bunts.

The timetable is a bullpen session, then batting practice and possibly pitching in a game, March 14. That would leave three starts before the start to the season.

“We’re not worried about April 1,” Collins said. “We’re worried about 30 starts. … This is about protecting him.’’

Collins and Santana didn’t appear on the same page Sunday when the latter threw off the mound and the manager questioning his reasoning later, saying he had nothing to prove.

MUPRHY UPDATE: Daniel Murphy, sidelined with a strained right side muscle, played catch, took grounders and hit in the cage. He followed that up by saying he didn’t have a timetable for when he’d take live batting practice and appear in a game.

“I want to play,’’ Murphy said. “But, I want to be smart. There’s three weeks left. There’s time.’’

THE GAME: Jon Niese gave up four runs on six hits in 2.1 innings, and Carlos Torres was hit for seven runs on eight hits in 1.2 innings as the Mets were beaten, 14-10, by the Venezuelan WBC team.

Collin Cowgill continues to impress, going 3-for-4 with two RBI as the DH. … Marlon Byrd hit a three-run homer and Lucas Duda was hitless in two at-bats.

K-ROD SEEKS REDEMPTION: Former Mets reliever Francisco Rodriguez did not distinguish himself during his tenure with the Mets. It wouldn’t be a reach to say the highlight of his stay was general manager Sandy Alderson’s ability to trade him the summer after his fight with his former father-in-law outside the family lounge at Citi Field.

The punch cost Rodriguez an injured hand and night in jail.

Yesterday, he visited with Collins as a member of Venezuela’s WBC team. He told reporters after the game he would like a chance to make amends with the Mets.

“I would love to,” Rodriguez said. “They’ve got a great coaching staff over there. To come back and redeem myself would be great, because I’ve got to be realistic and honest. You would have to be real blind to not see that I fell when I was there. That’s not even a question. To be able to get one more shot and get it done would be great.”

JUST WONDERING: With Mark Teixeira out eight to ten weeks, and to open the season on the disabled list along with Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez, nobody is projecting a hot start from the Yankees.

The media is expected to crush the Yankees assuming a slow start, which could take some of the negative attention away from the Mets.

METS NOTEBOOK: Despite the Mets scoring ten runs, Collins said he’s concerned about the offense. “We’re not swinging the bats very good,’’ he said. “But, we still have around 40 at-bats (per starter) to go.’’ … Kirk Nieuwenhuis is getting treatment on his bruised left knee and said there’s no timetable for his return. I’ll have something with Nieuwenhuis in the morning. … The Mets are in their 25th spring in Port St. Lucie, the seventh longest tenure in the majors. … Matt Harvey will start Thursday against Miami, followed by Greg Burke and Brandon Lyon. … Dillon Gee, Bobby Parnell and Josh Edgin will pitch Friday against Detroit at Lakeland. … Former Mets bullpen coach Guy Conti lives in nearby Vero Beach and is a guest instructor.