Mar 25

Viola To Have Heart Surgery, Unable To Continue As Pitching Coach

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York is reporting that former Cy Young winner Frank Viola is scheduled to undergo open-heart surgery next Wednesday and will be unable to serve as pitching coach of the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s.

Viola, 53, had a heart issue detected during his initial spring-training physical. Viola spent the past three seasons as a Class A pitching coach for the Mets.

Ron Romanick is expected to replace Viola as the pitching coach for the Pacific Coast League team.

Very sad to hear, my thoughts and prayers go out to him.

Mar 19

Mets Today: Goin’ Fishing

Today is one of the most anticipated days of spring training for the New York Mets. It is their off day, which means they can sleep in, play golf, take in a movie, go out to lunch and dinner.

Outside of those needing treatment – hello Ike Davis and Lucas Duda – a few pitchers might throw to maintain their routines.

Other than that, the Mets’ complex will be closed.

Davis and Duda will assuredly receive treatment because manager Terry Collins said either could play in Thursday’s exhibition game against Atlanta.

Neither player has run in minor league and intrasquad games. They have only run in conditioning drills.

Collins announced his rotation following the off day:

Thursday vs. Atlanta: Zack Wheeler.

Friday vs. Minnesota: Dillon Gee

Saturday vs. Miami: Bartolo Colon

Sunday (split squads) vs. Atlanta and Washington: Jenrry Mejia and John Lannan, respectively.

Monday vs. St. Louis: Daisuke Matsuzaka

Mar 16

What Is The Plan For Jenrry Mejia?

The New York Mets have never settled on a role for Jenrry Mejia, which could be the case again this spring.

At 24, Mejia is one of those promising young arms the Mets are boasting. Coming off elbow surgery, they are treating him with kid gloves, but there have been no signs of a setback.

Most starters want to pitch 30 innings in spring training, but with only two weeks left has only worked two. He could get four today against the Cubs in Las Vegas, but won’t get close to 20, much less 30.

Originally, Mejia was to compete with Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan for the fifth-starter role. But, if building for the future is the objective for 2014, it should be Mejia because he has the greatest upside.

Without Matt Harvey, this would have been the perfect chance to develop Mejia. Instead, it is turning out to be a lost opportunity, either to use him for their rotation or showcase him for a trade.

With Mejia in the rotation, they’ll have a better idea of where they stand heading into 2015. If Matsuzaka gets those starts, they still won’t know about Mejia as a starter.

But, how about as a reliever?

The Mets tried that route without success in 2010. Then-manager Jerry Manuel, knowing his job was in severe jeopardy, wanted Mejia on the major league roster to work out of the bullpen to start that season. That was for Manuel’s interests, not Mejia’s.

However, Manuel wouldn’t use him in pressure situations, so Mejia languished without work when he could have been getting starts in the minor leagues.

Understandably, Mejia struggled and was eventually optioned to Triple-A to go back in the rotation. His arm didn’t adjust to the back-and-forth and he was eventually injured and required elbow surgery.

Entering that season, Mejia was a highly sought prospect, but his value was greatly reduced because of how he was used. The Mets couldn’t promote him as a reliever if they were afraid to use him in pressure situations. They also couldn’t promote him as a starter because they wouldn’t use him in that role, either.

After he was hurt, he missed all of 2011.

The Mets are again considering Mejia for their bullpen, but already have seven candidates without him. Just how much work would he get?

If not up here, they should use him as a starter in the minors, which is probably in their best long-term interest because that would hasten his development and possibly build his trade value.

I see him starting the season in Triple-A, but where ever he ends up, just pick a role and stick with it. In the end, I also see it never happening for Mejia with the Mets. They blew this one.

 

Mar 10

Davis’ Saga Continues; This Won’t End Well

Nobody knows what to expect from Ike Davis this season. Not him, not the Mets, but we can speculate, which considering Davis’ history with the media this spring, won’t go over well.

Davis walked into camp this morning in a walking boot on his right foot, something not unfamiliar with him, having done so in 2011 after his collision with David Wright. He was off to a good start at the time, but hasn’t consistently hit since.

DAVIS:  We're all frustrated with Ike. (AP)

DAVIS: We’re all frustrated with Ike. (AP)

Reading Davis’ comments to reporters in Port St. Lucie, did nothing to assure anybody, 1) he will be ready for the start of the season, 2) this is being handled properly, and 3) he has a clue about what it takes to play in New York.

Here we are, three weeks from Opening Day, and the only certainty is Davis won’t get the 90-plus at-bats manager Terry Collins wanted for him.

He just won’t, regardless how he spins things.

“It’s just a walking boot,’’ Davis said matter-of-factly. “Nothing crazy happened. … Hopefully I’ll get two weeks of games in before the season starts. I can still get a lot of ABs.’’

Please explain how.

That comment says he won’t play this week. And, after not playing all this time, don’t think for a moment Davis will jump right in and get four at-bats a day for two weeks. It doesn’t work that way. He’ll be eased in after this week, but then have moments of sitting to make sure he doesn’t re-injure himself.

So, assuming Davis doesn’t play until next Monday – it’s Davis, so bet the over – that might leave him eight or nine games to get ready. At this rate, he might not get 30 at-bats, much less close to the 90 Collins wanted.

Also irritating is Davis saying he hasn’t yet had a MRI. Huh?

“I’m sure we’ll do that at some point,’’ Davis said about the MRI. Davis said his calves are tight, the right being more painful.

What are they waiting for, the traveling MRI show to come to town, much like the traveling carnivals you see throughout the south in mall parking lots this time of year?

First base is an important decision for the Mets, and here it is, halfway through spring training and there’s no clue. None.

Last season, Davis said he didn’t disclose a strained oblique because he was afraid it would come off as making an excuse. His comment this morning was worse.

“I want to play,’’ Davis said, then took a shot at the media, as if the writers forced his bad habits upon him. “Obviously I could have went out there and blown out and dealt with more articles about not saying it’s hurt.’’

C’mon Ike, give it a rest. You’re coming off as being too sensitive to what people say about you. That’s not a good quality to have if you’re a New York athlete.

For those who might have forgotten, Davis hit all of .205 last season with only nine homers and 33 RBI.

His approach at the plate is lost and one of desperation. There’s little patience; the habit of trying to pull everything; a nasty hitch and big loop to his swing; and he pulls his head off the pitch and seemingly refuses to go up the middle or to the opposite field. He’s a big-time mess fundamentally. Last summer’s excursion to Las Vegas accomplished nothing.

My guess is Davis will begin the season on the disabled list and his saga will continue to its inevitable sour end. When that happens, one can only wonder what will be written.

ON DECK: Mets routed by Marlins.

 

 

Mar 07

Good Idea To Ease In David Wright

There will be a David Wright sighting this afternoon for the New York Mets. Manager Terry Collins, referring to an oblique strain in previous springs, took the approach of easing Wright and Daniel Murphy into the lineup this spring.

WRIGHT: Easing into it. (AP)

WRIGHT: Easing into it. (AP)

My first impression is Wright doesn’t need to be rushed and if this helps him stay healthy, I’m behind it all the way. Spring training is a grind as it is, so resting is a good strategy since Wright will get the necessary at-bats needed to get ready.

“Spring training is so long. It’s really for the pitchers’ benefit, to get them stretched out,’’ Wright said earlier this week. “Terry approached me even during the offseason and kind of told me, `Don’t be surprised if in spring training I slow you down a little bit and push you back.’

“The last couple of years I’ve had the abdominal/oblique injuries. So to kind of slow it up this year, to kind of take those baby steps before ramping it up, I think helps me out.’’

Hitters normally get close to 90 at-bats in the spring. If they feel like it isn’t enough, they can always be scheduled in simulated games where they can get up to seven in a game. Wright, as he usually does, shows up several weeks earlier. He’s been taking batting practice since the Super Bowl.

“I felt like I got good work in,’’ Wright said. “I felt I’m a lot more prepared now than I have been in recent spring trainings to enter games, and I think I’ll get a little more out of it.’’

Wright’s work entails hitting, defense and conditioning. It’s been a concentrated effort since the games began; an effort he wouldn’t have been able to do had he been playing all this time.

There has been more intense training this spring compared to last year because then he was playing in the World Baseball Classic.

As always, everything is up for review. If, during the season, Wright feels fresher, then this has been a good routine. If he doesn’t feel as sharp at the start of the season, he can always change next year.

Either way, this is a useful experiment.