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

Niese Has Rough Outing; Says He’s Fine Physically

The Cardinals hit Jonathon Niese hard today, but not as hard as the Mets’ left-hander hit himself.

The Cardinals rapped Niese for 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.

Niese wasn’t happy with is fastball, which topped out at 89 mph., or his cutter, but took solace in not feeling discomfort his shoulder, which revealed substantial weakness in a Feb. 26 MRI.

“I’m at 50 pitches, so I’m halfway to 100,’’ Niese told reporters. “I would have liked to have done it in more than two innings. I guess it is what it is. I don’t feel like my pitches are as crisp.

“I think some of that might have to do with mechanics. But as far as my arm, it feels better and better each time. That’s a good sign.’’

As for his velocity, the Mets’ projected Opening Day starter said it should increase as he gets stronger in his final three exhibition starts.

Manager Terry Collins said if Niese is not being ready for Opening Day, March 31, against Washington at Citi Field, he would choose between Dillon Gee or Bartolo Colon.

Offensively, in addition to Lutz, Josh Satin and Kirk Nieuwenhuis homered for the Mets. Also, Wilmer Flores, who botched a potential double-play grounder in the first, reached base three times and scored twice.

ON DECK: Mets Wrap.

 

Mar 11

Today’s Mets’ Lineup Against Cardinals

Jonathon Niese makes his first start of the spring after dealing with a dead arm and Wilmer Flores will get the start at shortstop.

Here’s the lineup:

Eric Young Jr., lf
Juan Lagares, cf
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, rf
Josh Satin, 3b
Matt Clark, 1b
Travis d’Arnaud, c
Andrew Brown, dh
Wilmer Flores, ss
Omar Quintanilla, 2b

Jonathon Niese, lhp

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

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 09

Mets Wrap: Good Pitching News About Wheeler, Niese And Parnell

The Mets received good news on three pitching questions this afternoon, two of them were injury related.

Despite not liking his performance, Zack Wheeler threw three scoreless innings to highlight the Mets’ 8-2 victory over Atlanta. In addition, there were positive reports regarding Jonathon Niese and closer Bobby Parnell.

It was more than just numbers for Wheeler, who said he’d like to forget about his performance, adding he was overthrowing his change-up.

“Today was really just going out there and working on some stuff, just because you’re going to face those guys at times during the season,’’ Wheeler told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “I was trying to work on my changeup. I was a little erratic, because I was sort of rotating my shoulders a little bit.

“Every time you get out there on the mound, it’s been a little problem for me. There’s a little too much adrenaline, I guess.’’

In addition:

* Niese said he would be able to make his exhibition debut Tuesday against St. Louis in Jupiter, Fla. Niese is coming a strong performance in an intrasquad game Thursday. Niese complained of a sore shoulder earlier in camp and underwent a MRI, Feb. 26.

* Parnell made his first game appearance since last July, and gave up a run in one inning.  He was pleased with how he reached another level to blow away Tyler Greene to end the game.

* Veteran relievers Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde combined to throw three scoreless innings.

* Center fielder Juan Lagares threw out Andrelton Simmons attempting to advance from first to third. Lagares set a club-rookie record with 15 outfield assists last season.