Mar 11

Mets Wrap: Looking At Spring Training Issues; Niese Struggles; Murphy Update

Today, I revisited the top five issues facing the New York Mets heading into spring training.

They are: the fifth starter competition; whether Bobby Parnell will be ready for the season; the Ike Davis saga; Ruben Tejada’s status; and who might be the Opening Day starter.

To date, Daisuke Matsuzaka has the inside track; Parnell said he’s ready; both Davis and Tejada remain a mess; and manager Terry Collins prefers Eric Young, although that might keep Juan Lagares off the Opening Day roster.

In addition:

* Jon Niese struggled in his exhibition debut against St. Louis, giving up four runs on six hits and two walks in two innings in his exhibition debut, won by the Mets, 9-8, on Zach Lutz’s tie-breaking homer in the ninth. Josh Satin and Kirk Nieuwenhuis also homered. If Niese isn’t ready, manager Terry Collins said he would go with either Dillon Gee or Bartolo Colon.

* John Lannan, Wednesday’s starter, will be looked at out of the bullpen. That’s necessary with Josh Edgin being sent to the minor league camp.

* Wilmer Flores started at shortstop and contributed with Omar Quintanilla to botch a potential double-play grounder. However, Flores reached base three times and scored twice.

* Daniel Murphy, out with a bruised right shin, practiced outside, which could indicate he’ll play soon.

* The Mets announced they would host an international soccer match at Citi Field, July 24, between AC Milan and Olympiakos. Tickets go on sale Thursday at Mets.com/Soccer, Tickets.com or by calling (718) 507-TIXX.

Mar 11

Mets Could Use John Lannan In Bullpen

Starter or reliever, it doesn’t matter to left-hander John Lannan, who just wants to be on the New York Mets’ Opening Day roster.

Lannan, 29, was brought into camp to compete for the fifth-starter role with Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jenrry Mejia. Matsuzaka appears to have the inside track, but Lannan will start Wednesday against St. Louis.

LANNAN:  Will pitch for food. (AP)

LANNAN: Will pitch for food. (AP)

However, the demotion of reliever Josh Edgin to the minor league camp leaves Scott Rice as the only lefty in the pen, and the Mets are seriously considering Lannan in that role.

“I think that’s been the plan since Day 1. They’ve been pretty transparent with that,’’ Lannan told reporters in Port St. Lucie Tuesday morning about working in relief. “TC asked me how I felt about it. Obviously I’ll do anything to help the team, in any capacity.’’

Lannan has appeared in 148 major league games, all as a starter. He’s only worked out of the bullpen seven times in 95 minor league games, so there’s obviously a lot to learn.

The times Lannan did work in the pen he knew when he was to enter the game and had time to warm up. This will be different.

“I want to see how I am when the phone rings and I don’t have any warning,’’ Lannan said. “You always hear about that adrenaline rush when the phone rings. If it does come to that point, I want to see how I react to that.’’

Lannan said he can get loose quickly, but there’s more to it than that, as he must see how his arm adjusts to: 1) warming up several times in the same game, 2) how he responds to back-to-back appearances, and 3) how he feels after pitching two or three innings one day and coming back the next.

Lannan is coming back from surgery in the offseason to repair a tendon linking the thigh muscles to his left knee. So far, he’s pleased with his camp, having given up two runs on hour hits with four strikeouts and zero walks in two appearances.

Lannan still believes he can start on this level, and at his age, he’s worth keeping around in whatever role. Pitching is such a commodity and the Mets have several issues in their rotation, so even if he makes the roster in the pen he could start again.

ON DECK: Mets vs. Cardinals result.

Mar 11

Mets Today: Jon Niese Gets The Ball

Left-hander Jonathon Niese, the Mets’ projected Opening Day starter, will make his spring debut against St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright.

NIESE: Makes spring debut (AP)

NIESE: Makes spring debut (AP)

Niese complained of a dead arm early in camp and the weakness was revealed in a MRI taking in New York, Feb. 26.

Niese threw two innings in an intrasquad game last Thursday and reported no pain or discomfort.

“It’s a great feeling to go out there and not feel any pain in your shoulder,’’ Niese said that day. “It was a great step forward to go out on the mound and feel very close to 100 percent.’’

In addition:

* Ike Davis, as you know, is hobbling in a walking boot on his right foot and isn’t ready to do anything.

* Will today be the day Wilmer Flores starts at shortstop?

* Daniel Murphy (bruised right shin) remains day-to-day.

* Lucas Duda hit in the cage Monday. Perhaps he could graduate to batting practice today?

* Here’s the rest of the week: Wednesday, St. Louis; Thursday, at Washington Nationals; Friday, at Miami Marlins; Saturday, Minnesota (SS) and Chicago Cubs at Las Vegas; Sunday, at St. Louis Cardinals and Cubs at Las Vegas.

ON DECK:   What to make of Mets’ spring training so far.

Mar 10

Mets Wrap: Davis Not Close; Mets Routed; Roster Cuts

There is more discouraging news about the Mets’ Ike Davis, who is wearing a walking boot on his right foot and doesn’t expect to play for at least another week.

Inexplicably, Davis hasn’t had a MRI, and to compound matters, took a swipe at the media, saying: “Obviously I could have went out there and blown out and dealt with more articles about not saying it’s hurt.’’

Of course, that was in reference to him saying he hid an oblique injury last season.

With three weeks until Opening Day, Davis won’t get close to the 90-plus at-bats the Mets hoped and appears he’ll likely open the season on the disabled list.

In addition:

* Bartolo Colon worked four innings and gave up three runs on five hits in an 11-1 rout by the Marlins. Offensively, the Mets managed six hits and struck out ten times.

* Dillon Gee threw four scoreless innings in a “B’’ game with Miami.

* Las Vegas manager Wally Backman interviewed to manage the Dominican winter-league team, Aguilas Cibaenas.

* Lefty-reliever Josh Edgin was in the first round of roster cuts, leaving the Mets with Scott Rice as the only lefty in the bullpen. It is possible John Lannan could give the Mets another lefty. Also optioned were left-handers Steven Matz and Adam Kolarek; pitchers Erik Goeddel, Logan Verrett and Chasen Bradford; catcher Kevin Plawecki; infielders Danny Muno, Wilfredo Tovar and Dustin Lawley; and outfielders Brandon Nimmo and Cory Vaughn.

 

Mar 10

Mets Routed By Marlins, 11-1.

Bartolo Colon worked four innings today for the Mets, giving up three runs on five hits in an 11-1 rout by the Marlins. Colon was followed by five relievers, with only Scott Rice expected to make the 25-man Opening Day roster.

“It was meaningful,’’ Colon told reporters through an interpreter. “I was happy I was able to locate my pitches today and was able to pitch well.’’

It was Colon’s first outing of the spring.

Jack Leathersich gave up two runs, including a homer to Giancarlo Stanton. The worst outing was by Ryan Ried, who gave up four runs on six hits to the nine batters he faced.

In what hopefully isn’t a sign of things to come, the Mets loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning, but Curtis Granderson, Josh Satin and Travis d’Arnaud all struck out.

Collectively, they struck out ten times.

ON DECK: Mets Wrap.