Mar 05

Mets Matters: Colon Perfect In Loss To Nats

Bartolo Colon was perfect in his first exhibition start, retiring all six hitters in the Mets’ 5-4 loss Thursday to the Nationals.

“I felt pretty good today, but I’m not quite there yet – season-ready,’’ Colon told reporters. “I didn’t throw everything I needed to throw. It was my first time facing batters. But I was pretty happy with what I did. I had good control of all of my pitches.’’

mets-matters logoColon will next pitch Tuesday against minor league hitters. He is expected to throw over three innings.

At 41 entering the season, Colon said his goal is to exceed 200 innings for the second straight year.

METS MUST IMPROVE VS. NATS: Mets manager Terry Collins gives the edge to Washington’s rotation to that of his own team, “maybe because of experience.’’

If the Mets are to be competitive this year they must improve head-to-head against the Nationals.

“We can’t go 5-14 next year. You can’t,’’ Collins told reporters. “You’ve got to play better. … I think now our bullpen has settled down a little bit and I think we’re in a little bit better shape.’’

NEXT UP: The Mets host Detroit Friday at 1:10 p.m., with Matt Harvey getting the start. It will be his first game since Aug. 24, 2013. Noah Syndergaard will follow Harvey. … The sons of murdered NYPD officer Rafael Ramos will be the batboys.

Mar 04

Wright’s Apology Speaks Volumes

David Wright did the right thing when he lectured Noah Syndergaard for eating lunch in the clubhouse when his teammates were playing an intrasquad game.

WRIGHT: Stands up.

WRIGHT: Stands up.

Wright also did the correct thing Wednesday when he apologized to Syndergaard when the easy thing would have been not to have say anything. Wright already had the backing of manager Terry Collins, his teammates – including Syndergaard, who admitted he made a mistake – and most people who know anything about the dynamics of a team sport.

When Wright confronted Syndergaard, he did so unaware of several reporters standing nearby. That was his mistake.

“I didn’t notice the media was within earshot,’’ Wright told reporters. “So that’s what I apologized to Noah for. Now he has to answer questions; I have to answer questions; Terry has to answer questions. That’s not the way that I like to handle things. I wasn’t aware of my surroundings.’’

It’s about accountability, and that includes for the captain, also. Wright can’t justify getting on a teammate for making a mistake if he can’t stand up himself when he does the same.

It’s all part of doing the right thing.

ON DECK:  Dillon Gee rocked.

 

Mar 03

Wright Flashes Captain’s Bars To Syndergaard

David Wright gets it and always has. Now let’s see if the same can be said for Noah Syndergaard. The Mets’ captain reprimanded the young pitcher Tuesday for being in the clubhouse eating lunch instead of being on the bench for the intrasquad game.

Without getting in Syndergaard’s face, Wright let it be known Syndergaard’s place was in the dugout, not in an air-conditioned clubhouse. It’s something a team captain should do.

WRIGHT: Shows leadership skills. (AP)

WRIGHT: Shows leadership skills. (AP)

Syndergaard did not immediately move until Bobby Parnell picked up the rookie’s plate and dumped it in the trash.

Call that an exclamation point.

Wright is the captain for a reason, and that is to not only be a good example, but make sure his teammates understand.

“Being a young player, any chance you get to learn, you go out there and learn,’’ Wright told Newsday. “I’m not a big ranter and raver. When I get on somebody, it’s 99-percent private. I’m not going to yell and scream, but when I speak to somebody, when I get on somebody, the point needs to be taken.’’

The Mets have pointed to this year as when they could be competitive and possibly even challenge for the playoffs. Syndergaard is counted on to be a integral piece in the Mets’ development, and if he’s to become what they hope, he must learn how to win.

And, that includes learning the protocols of a clubhouse. If Syndergaard is to eventually be a leader, he can’t be if he’s eating in the clubhouse during a game – even an intrasquad game.

Wright was teaching. He showed Syndergaard there is a right way and a wrong way to being a teammate.

Syndergaard should have known better, but made a mistake. He said he didn’t think it was a big deal, and in the grand scheme of things, maybe it wasn’t. But, Syndergaard hasn’t been around long enough to make that decision.

Championship teams are built on little things, and that’s why Wright thought it was a big deal. Lecturing Syndergaard is as much a part of his job description as driving in runs and playing third base.

If he doesn’t step forward, then who will?

“I understand where David was coming from,’’ Syndergaard told Newsday. “We’re playing a team sport. I should be out there supporting my teammates.’’

Often, there is a mental turning point in a player’s career, as if a light switch was flipped. Maybe Wright turned it on for Syndergaard.

 

Feb 25

Mets Matters: Syndergaard Motivated

I really like what Noah Syndergaard told reporters in Port St. Lucie about his reaction to not being called up at the end of last season.

Realistically, it wasn’t going to happen as to protect his Super Two status.

mets-matters logoAfter getting the call from GM Sandy Alderson, Syndergaard refused to sulk, but instead used it a source of motivation.

“It was kind of heartbreaking,” Syndergaard told ESPN. “I went home, let things relax a little bit, and then got back in my workout program and just enjoyed time in the offseason.

“But it was disappointing. To be in the big leagues has been my dream ever since I was a little kid. … I use it as a little extra motivation, because I don’t want to hear that phone call again.’’

Syndergaard is expected to open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas and join the Mets in June.

Syndergaard, 22, needs to develop a secondary pitch because scouts say he relies too much on his outstanding fastball. Normally, pitchers move up to the next level when they begin dominating the competition, something he did not do evidenced by his 2014 Vegas numbers: 9-7, 4.60 ERA and 1.481 WHIP in 26 starts.

By his own admission, Syndergaard said he wasn’t ready.

“Being in Triple-A, you’ve got guys who have been in the big leagues for a number of seasons. So they can hit a fastball,’’ Syndergaard said. “Hitting is timing, and pitching is throwing off timing. If you throw three fastballs on the heart of the plate, they’re going to time one up.’’

Nobody knows how good Syndergaard will be, but he has the right idea.

HARVEY TO THROW FRIDAY: Matt Harvey’s come back from Tommy John surgery will take another step Friday when he throws to hitters for the first time.

The plan is to take batting practice, but there’s even the chance the hitters won’t even swing, but to stand at the plate to re-acclimate him to having a batter in the box.

DUDA UPDATE: Lucas Duda’s side injury has been changed from a strained oblique to a intercostal muscle. He’s not expected to resume swinging until Friday.

ON DECK TOMORROW: Among other things, I’ll project the Mets’ Opening Day roster.

Feb 09

Niese Faces Pivotal Season

Every spring there is that singular player whose career might hang in the balance as is Jonathon Niese’s with the New York Mets.

NIESE: Will it ever happen for him?

NIESE: Will it ever happen for him?

It was in 2012 when the Mets signed him to a long-term contract through 2016. They signed him for all the right reasons. He threw hard; is left-handed; the contract provided cost certainty; he had some degree of major league success; and at the time was relatively healthy.

In the three years since, he’s won just 30 games, hadn’t pitched 200 innings in any season, and sustained one form of injury or another every year.

With Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard and left-hander Steven Matz waiting in the wings – and let’s not forget Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee remain on the 40-man roster – it doesn’t take much to figure Niese’s value to the Mets is rapidly diminishing, especially since they put him on the block over the winter.

All the reasons why the Mets signed Niese, and why he was coveted by other teams in trade talks, aren’t as prevalent. If 2015 is anything like the last three seasons, next year at this time we might not even be talking about him in the rotation as Matz could supplant him.

Of all the Mets who need a big and healthy season, Niese ranks at the top of my list.