Mar 17

Kirk Nieuwenhuis Having Miserable Spring; Vegas Bound

With two weeks to go before Opening Day, Kirk Nieuwenhuis should be thinking about where he would live in New York rather than Las Vegas.

Nieuwenhuis, who made a strong first impression with the Mets last year, came to camp penciled in as the center fielder and first in line to win the leadoff spot. However, a hitless streak at the start of the exhibition schedule punctuated with a rash of strikeouts followed by deep bone bruise on his left knee made this a washout spring.

NIEUWENHUIS: Taking that swing to Vegas.

NIEUWENHUIS: Taking that swing to Vegas.

It should be fun for a young player competing for a starting job.

“Fun?’’ Nieuwenhuis asked. “It should have been fun, but it’s no fun spending time in the trainer’s room. It’s no fun when you can’t get onto the field. This has been a very frustrating time.’’

Nieuwenhuis was injured two weeks ago, and yesterday participated in batting practice and outfield drills. Once he runs the bases, he’ll be cleared to play, but it will be a minor league game.

Perhaps early this week Nieuwenhuis will get in a game, but Collin Cowgill has already leaped past him as well as Jordany Valdespin. Matt den Dekker also made a strong impression defensively, and still has a chance to make the team if he finishes with a hot two weeks with the bat.

Nieuwenhuis doesn’t say it, but despite his youth and inexperience, he’s smart enough to know the score. All he has to do is look at the stat sheet and compare his at-bats to Cowgill’s.

“I haven’t seen a lot of pitches,’’ Nieuwenhuis said in about as direct an admission that he’ll open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas. “You need at-bats in spring training. You need repetition, and I haven’t gotten them.’’

Nieuwenhuis was brought up early last season after Andres Torres was injured and got two hits in his first game. Then he rattled off a seven-game hitting streak. Three times he had three hits in a game and at the end of April was hitting .325 with a .386 on-base percentage.

Nieuwenhuis remained productive in May – hitting .294 at the end of the month – and carried it into June and was emerging as an early Rookie of the Year candidate hitting .297 while playing a near flawless center field.

However, by the middle of the month, pitchers started figuring him out and his average plummeted. Anybody can hit fastballs, but Nieuwenhuis was having trouble with breaking balls and off-speed stuff and his strike zone widened for pitchers, who didn’t have to be so fine.

Nieuwenhuis sustained a hand injury in July and at the end of the month was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo, where he injured his foot and was lost for the remainder of the season.

At the time of his demotion, Nieuwenhuis was down to .252 with a .315 on-base percentage, and in 282 at-bats had more strikeouts (98) than hits (71).

Although general manager Sandy Alderson had his apprehensions with Nieuwenhuis, his early success last year coupled with the Mets’ wide-open outfield situation, enabled him to come to camp with a fresh start and high expectations.

“Strikeouts are acceptable to a point,’’ Alderson said. “If a player has a high on-base percentage and produces a lot of runs, you can take the strikeouts.’’

Nieuwenhuis got off to a slow start this spring with only one hit and seven strikeouts in 20 at-bats. He was quickly removed from the leadoff spot as manager Terry Collins searched for other options, including Valdespin and Cowgill.

“I know the strikeouts have been a problem,’’ Nieuwenhuis said. “I don’t want to strike out. I need to put the ball in play. Seeing pitches is very important, and you get that through repetition.’’

And, you don’t see pitches when you’re not on the field.

Mar 15

Who Is To Blame For Wright’s Injury?

There are conflicting reports as to how David Wright’s rib injury was handled, and they don’t make the team or the player look good.

General manager Sandy Alderson told reporters this morning at the Mets’ spring training facility in Port St. Lucie, Fl., that the team will not know the nature or severity of the injury sustained while playing with Team USA in the World Baseball Classic until Wright is examined by club physicians today in New York.

Wright was scratched from Thursday night’s game after taking batting practice. Alderson said he talked to Team USA officials around 6:40 p.m.

Alderson said there’s no timetable for Wright other than to say he’s expected back in Florida on Saturday. Unquestionably, he’s out of the WBC.

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Mar 15

Wright’s Injury Raises Questions

The hits just keep on coming for the New York Mets. It remains to be seen when they’ll resume for their All-Star third baseman, David Wright, who was a leading MVP candidate for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

Wright was scratched from Thursday night’s game against the Dominican Republic with rib soreness in his lower back left side. He was to be examined this morning in Port St. Lucie, but will now travel directly to New York, which could denote the Mets believe the injury is worse than originally speculated.

WRIGHT: What's he thinking now?

WRIGHT: What’s he thinking now?

Initially, Wright expressed optimism he would be able to continue to play, but that won’t happen now.

“I wanted to play tonight, but I understand the decision,’’ Wright said in Miami, where the game was being played. “I’m disappointed. That goes without saying. But I completely understand the direction that they’re going.’’

Wright started experiencing soreness a week ago and said recently he had difficult sleeping. This was reported to the Mets, but he was not told to immediately report to his team or club physicians. When the pain persisted the Mets pulled the plug on Wright’s WBC experience.

Why the Mets didn’t force the issue early needs to be questioned, as does Wright’s willingness to play through the injury.

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Mar 14

Dillon Gee Wild In Mets 9-1 Loss To Tigers

dillon gee

The Detroit Tigers defeated the New York Mets this afternoon by the score of 9-1 at Tradition Field. Most of the damage came against starting pitcher Dillon Gee who was absolutely awful and completely out of sync.

Gee had no control as evidenced by his four walks, two hit batters and three wild pitches in just two innings of work. The right-hander will need to get things sorted out very quickly if the Mets are to improve their MLB betting odds for this season. Gee was charged with six earned runs and didn’t beat around the bush after the game when he was asked if any particular pitch was giving him trouble. “All of them [gave me trouble], terrible.”

The  finally tally on balls and strikes told the story; 53 pitches and only 24 strikes.

According to Adam Rubin of ESPN, Gee said he did not care to throw additional pitches in the bullpen after the outing. He instead just wanted to turn the page on a lousy day.

I agree, turn the page…

Mar 13

Mets Should Have Interest In Brennan Boesch

We’re heading into the time in spring training when players get released, and the Mets should be all over this: Brennan Boesch was released this morning by the Tigers.

BOESCH: Worth a look

BOESCH: Worth a look

He’s an outfielder. He has some power. And, he’s still breathing. What’s not to like? And, he’s coming off a strained oblique muscle, so he should fit right in with the Mets.

Boesch is a lifetime .259 hitter with 42 homers in three years as a role player with the Tigers. He can play both outfield corners, which is an obvious need for New York.

Boesch is to make $2.3 million this year and is arbitration eligible for next winter. At 27, he’s not, well, he’s not Marlon Byrd. Boesch appeared to have a breakthrough season in 2011 when he hit .283 with 16 homers, but he missed the postseason with a thumb injury.

He regressed last year, and his strikeouts spiked to 104. Maybe it was just a bad year or perhaps there were lingering effects from the thumb injury. Whatever, he’s still young enough where he can rebound.

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