Mar 18

Mets’ Injury Updates And Today’s Batting Order

The Mets can realistically expect to have three, perhaps four, significant players open the season on the disabled list: David Wright, Johan Santana, Frank Francisco and possibly Daniel Murphy.

Murphy remains sore after playing five innings of defense in a minor league game last Friday. Terry Collins said to expect him to play no sooner than Wednesday, and if he’s not playing by the weekend he’ll open the season on the disabled list. Although Murphy has taken batting practice, he has not played in an exhibition game so he hasn’t faced game pitching.

Wright said he’s shooting for Opening Day, but is uncertain. He’s telling Collins he’s ready, but that could be wishful thinking. Since this has been fouled up enough as it is, the prudent thing is to make the decision to DL him where he’ll miss the least amount of time. That includes playing him in minor league games if he’s available to get on the field before Opening Day. If Wright were to play in major league spring training games and be injured, his DL time would be backdated from then.

Justin Turner, the projected third baseman while Wright is down, hopes to play by Thursday after spraining his right ankle last week. X-Rays were negative and he’s moving around, so the disabled list is unlikely,

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who is out with a bruised left knee, hopes to bat in a minor league game today, but will not run the bases. That means no inside-the-park homers.

The following is today’s lineup against St. Louis at Jupiter:

Jordany Valdespin, cf: It is clear he has made the team, with his versatility being an asset. He’s also been hot at the plate, with another homer yesterday. Will play second if Murphy is not ready.

Ruben Tejada, ss: Hit well last year, but is on a miserable stretch this spring. Is it a slump or regression?

Lucas Duda, lf: Not hitting as the Mets hoped. Will bat lower in the order during the season. Strike outs and low on-base percentage remain issues.

Zach Lutz, lb: Wright’s injury has given him an outside chance of sticking early.

Matt den Dekker, rf: He would have a spot if he could hit.

Brandon Hicks, 3b: Getting the audition while Turner is ailing.

Omar Quintanilla, 2b: With injuries to Wright, Murphy and Turner, his versatility is a definite plus.

Matt Harvey, rhp: Lining up as the No. 2 starter behind Jon Niese.

Also pitching today for the Mets are LaTroy Hawkins, who looks like he’ll make it in the set-up role. Bobby Parnell will also go today as will Josh Edgin and Scott Rice.

 

Mar 16

Justin Turner Taking Over Third Base; Mets Lineup Against Marlins

If there was any doubt of Justin Turner making the Opening Day roster, that’s gone.

Because Turner has a greater upside offensively, he’s David Wright’s replacement at third base and will get more reps than Zach Lutz, Brandon Hicks and Brian Bixler.

He is starting and hitting second in today’s game against Miami in Port St. Lucie.

Wright was examined yesterday in New York and will return to Florida tonight and be in camp Sunday. As of now, he will be idle from three to five days, but could open the season on the disabled list.

The Mets have a history of strained intercostal and oblique muscles, including Wright missing a month last year. Daniel Murphy had one earlier this spring and has been out almost a month. Considering the history of this injury with the Mets, Terry Collins is planning not to have Wright for Opening Day.

Here’s today’s lineup and the Opening Day projection for each player:

Mike Baxter, rf:  Expected to make team and compete with Marlon Byrd for right field job. Has speed but doesn’t offer much offensively.

Justin Turner, 3b: Wright’s replacement at third base. Versatile player who is a tough out. Likes to work the count and drive up the pitch count.

Ike Davis, 1b: Safe at first. Mets looking for another 32 homers. Needs of cut down on strikeouts and improve on-base percentage. With two halves like his second half last year, 40 homers is within reach along with 100 RBI.

Marlon Byrd, cf: Veteran presence who’ll make team. Doesn’t give away outs.

Lucas Duda, lf: Starting in left. Expected to be main power source, but has to cut down on strikeouts. Needs to take the ball to the opposite field, be patient and increase his walks totals. He strikes out too much for what he gives the Mets offensively. Not Carl Yastrzemski in left field, either.

Travis d’Arnaud, c: Projected to open season in minor leagues, but to be called up after May. Coming off knee and back injuries but has been healthy so far.

Brian Bixler, 2b: Should open season in minors. Ability to play second helps him with Murphy recovering.

Omar Quintanilla, ss: Could make team as reserve infielder. Little offensive threat.

Shaun Marcum, rhp: Projected fifth starter. Mets thinking of him as innings eater, which will be imperative with Johan Santana not in the rotation.

LINEUP ANALYSIS: Turner’s ability to make contact is why he’s hitting second today, and perhaps at the start of the season. Davis moves up to third in the order with Wright out. Byrd sandwiched between Davis and Duda, two hitters with high strikeout totals.

Mar 10

Zack Wheeler Among Roster Cuts; Mets Lineup Against Cardinals

Zack Wheeler was one of the ten the Mets re-assigned to the minor league camp this morning.

In addition to Wheeler, also sent down were: Collin McHugh, Gonzalez Germen, Darin Gorski, Elvin Ramirez, Wilfredo Tovar, Hansel Robles, Juan Lagares, Cesar Puello and Reese Havens.

WHEELER: Sent down today.

WHEELER: Sent down today.

The highly-touted prospect acquired from San Francisco for Carlos Beltran two years ago expressed disappointment, but not surprise at the demotion. After all, GM Sandy Alderson has said several times Wheeler would not be rushed.

“I expected it,’’ said Wheeler. “They told me this at the start of spring training.’’

Wheeler, who has been sidelined with a strained oblique, threw off the mound this morning at Port St. Lucie.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen spoke with Wheeler this morning to offer some homework advice.

“I told him to work on his secondary pitches and fastball command on both sides of the plate,’’ Warthen said.

Here’s today’s lineup against the Cardinals:

 

Marlon Byrd, rf

Justin Turner, 2b

Collin Cowgill, cf

Lucas Duda, dh

Andrew Brown, lf

Brandon Hicks, 3b

Zach Lutz, 1b

Landon Powell, c

Omar Quintanilla, ss

Shaun Marcum, rhp

Mar 07

Jordany Valdespin Saying Right Things

Jordany Valdespin sat by his locker, his eyes glued to a television showing Phillies-Nationals highlights. However, his mind seemed elsewhere, but apparently not on his quest to be the Opening Day leadoff hitter in center.

“They have a decision to make, and the only thing I can do is keep playing hard and give them something to think about,’’ Valdespin said.  “I can’t make the decision. I have to play hard and see what happens in spring training.’’

Valdespin rarely made eye contact, instead kept on watching the television.

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Feb 26

Thoughts About Today’s Mets Lineup

Jordany Valdespin, 2b

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf

Justin Turner, dh

Mike Baxter, rf

Zach Lutz, 1b

Brian Bixler, 3b

Landon Powell, c

Juan Lagares, lf

Omar Quintanilla, ss

Jenrry Mejia, rhp

LINEUP THOUGHTS: Interesting to see Valdespin leading off and playing second. The Mets are looking at him as a potential Plan B if Daniel Murphy is unable to start the season. If he starts, leadoff is a good spot for him because of his speed. … Also, the Mets want to see Nieuwenhuis at second if he doesn’t win the leadoff spot. There he’ll need to work the count and advance runners which require patience and bat control, two things Nieuwenhuis needs to improve. … Zach Lutz, playing first today, has a chance to make the roster as a bench player. … Quintanilla is also competing for a bench spot. … Regarding Mejia, in his first start they want to get an idea of his arm strength and command. He will work on his secondary pitches later. … There’s a rule the travel squad in an exhibition game must have five major leaguers. The Mets are stretching it a bit.

NOTE: I will have another post or two this afternoon.