Mar 24

Looking At Mets’ Injuries

The one thing capable of derailing any team is injuries and the Mets aren’t any more immune than any other team. Fortunately for them, their starters haven’t been touched, although Jacob deGrom‘s velocity is down and Steven Matz has been pounded.

Both bear watching.

CONFORTO: Has sore back. (Getty)

CONFORTO: Has sore back. (Getty)

However, if the season started today the Mets have numerous health issues that would put the brakes on a fast start. The most pertinent are:

Michael Conforto: He’s dealing with lower back spasms that took him out of Wednesday’s game. He saw doctors today in Port St. Lucie and the prognosis is favorable.

“It was a little tight this morning,” Conforto told reporters. “Obviously, the ride home didn’t help. But I came in here and just got it loosened up pretty good. It feels a lot better.”

That’s encouraging, but it must be noted Conforto has a history of back problems, but he said it hasn’t kept him out for a significant period of time.

David Wright: Speaking of sore backs, there’s the third baseman, who was to play in exhibition games Thursday and Friday. That would leave him only a week, which isn’t enough time to get enough at-bats to get sharp.

Wright pushed it running the bases earlier in the week which resulted in his legs getting stiff, something manager Terry Collins said was to be expected.

Assuming Wright opens the season on the active roster, Collins said he’s not inclined to use him as a designated hitter, which would be a mistake. If the Mets’ intent is ease Wright into the season and take pressure off his back, then doing so as a designated would be a prudent option considering five of their 22 games in April are played in American League parks (two in Kansas City and three in Cleveland).

Doing otherwise would be ridiculous.

Asdrubal Cabrera: After missing much of spring training with a strained patellar tendon in his left knee, Cabrera is being eased in as a DH. When he was first injured, the thinking was Cabrera would open the season on the disabled list. That could still be the case, which appears likely considering he’s not even running.

Even with Cabrera injured, the Mets dumped Ruben Tejada, something they might eventually regret.

Yoenis Cespedes: He was bothered by a sore hit two weeks ago, but appears all right now. Even so, it’s a leg injury and that’s always something to watch.

Josh Edgin: He’s recovering from Tommy John surgery and won’t be ready until early May. He only recently got into a game. The Mets have lefty relievers Sean Gilmartin and Antonio Bastardo, so they can get by without Edgin for now.

Erik Goeddel: Was sidelined with a strained lat muscle earlier in camp, but there’s a chance he could be ready by Opening Day.

 

Mar 22

Wondering If Wright Will Be Ready

David Wright says he’ll be ready for Opening Day, but who can’t see somebody else being the Mets’ third baseman that day that night in Kansas City?

That’s the consensus I get from most Mets’ fans, who on a recent poll I conducted on Twitter responded with Wright’s health (57 percent), followed by the pressure on free-agent Yoenis Cespedes (22 percent), the defense up the middle, which includes playing Cespedes out of position (14 percent) and the bullpen (7 percent) being the most pressing Mets’ issues.

WRIGHT: Will he be ready? (Getty)

WRIGHT: Will he be ready? (Getty)

Wright, who won’t play Tuesday against the Yankees, has three hits in nine at-bats in three exhibition games. With only a week remaining, he won’t play in the dozen or so exhibition games originally projected he’d play.

Wright says he’s on pace for Opening Day, but admits there are days when the spinal stenosis doesn’t respond to his exercise program. There are times when he simply hurts. There are days when he wakes up feeling 60.

“It’s frustrating, but it’s out of my control,’’ Wright told reporters. “I learned a long time ago: You can control the things that you can control. And this is something that I can’t.

“I can give myself every opportunity to put myself in a position to play, and give my back every chance possible. But there are going to be some days where it’s just not possible.’’

Between now and Opening Day, Wright can accumulate another 40 or so at-bats, but most of them could come against minor-league pitchers. And, it wouldn’t entail getting much rest between games, which is a test he doesn’t need to take now. Is that really going to get him ready?

The ultimate test will come on defense, which features bending, stretching, diving and quick responses under game conditions. Those can’t be simulated.

Wright is known for being notoriously optimistic, and his desire to be ready Opening Day might be a stretch.

I’m thinking this might be one of those times.

 

Mar 17

No Brainer Harvey Opening Day Starter

In a decision best described as a “no-brainer,’’ the Mets announced this morning Matt Harvey will be their Opening Day starter, April 3, at Kansas City.

So, let me be the first to say, “Harvey will be coming out for the tenth inning.’’

HARVEY: Gets Opening Day call. (AP)

HARVEY: Gets Opening Day call. (AP)

I wonder how much Harvey’s ninth-inning, Game 5 meltdown went into manager Terry Collins’ decision to go with Harvey. After all, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard were also viable options. If there was any “we want top re-establish his confidence’’ thinking – which I doubt – Collins wouldn’t admit to it. I’m sure he’ll be asked about it until the season starts.

For the past three years, the Mets have done things to project Harvey as the team’s ace, not the least of which is his $4 salary, which exceeds the combined amount of the rest of their young rotation. This excludes, of course, Bartolo Colon, who is seemingly ageless.

Based on service time, sure, Harvey has to be the one. Also playing into the decision has to be some ego. Harvey can be brash at times, but he’s also sensitive and probably would take being passed over as a slight. That’s not a bad thing, but why would Collins want to ruffle his feathers?

Harvey was thrilled with the appointment.

“It’s a huge honor,” Harvey told reporters. “A year after surgery, I’m 100 percent. It’s interesting how the schedule took place. It’s going to be a great atmosphere. It will bring back a lot of memories, but also bring out a lot of fire.”

Maybe that was part of Collins’ thinking.

There have been no issues surrounding Harvey based on protecting his surgically-repaired elbow, which is a great sign. I wrote several weeks ago Harvey should get the ball, and before that, projecting him to win 20 games this summer.

I was right on one. Hopefully, I’ll be correct on the other.

 

Mar 16

Interesting Fallout Created With Tejada Cut

When St. Louis shortstop Jhonny Peralta injured his left thumb there was immediate speculation the Cardinals would make a run at the Mets’ Ruben Tejada. It was thought the Mets might hang on to him after Asdrubal Cabrera hurt his knee, but that thinking was quickly dashed.

With Tejada clearing waivers and subsequently waived Wednesday, the initial thought of Tejada to the Cardinals seems like a slam dunk now since they don’t have to give up any players.

Another possibility, which would be the ultimate irony are the Los Angeles Dodgers with their shortstop Corey Seager is currently out with a knee injury and might not be ready for Opening Day.

With Cabrera possibly opening the season on the disabled list, and Tejada now gone, Wilmer Flores could be the Opening Day shortstop for the Mets. This scenario also opens the way for Matt Reynolds and Eric Campbell making the Opening Day roster, something nobody could have anticipated.

 

Mar 14

Mets Handling Wright Correctly

The Mets continue to handle David Wright with kid gloves, which is the only way to go. Wright, who has yet to play in an exhibition game this spring, singled in five at-bats in a minor-league intrasquad game today. Wright didn’t play in the field.

As of now, the plan is to get Wright into a dozen exhibition games, and there’s no idea as to how many games he’ll play this season.

Wright will play in minor league games Tuesday and Thursday, and possibly getting in a regular season game for the first time on Friday.

“You don’t know what to expect your first time taking at-bats as far as timing and stuff, and that was really secondary to going out there, simulating some at-bats in a game-like situation,” Wright told TCPalm.com. “Taking some swings, trying to run to first base, run the bases a little bit – I thought it went great. Obviously, the biggest thing now is try to get some timing, but I feel mechanically health-wise, I thought it worked out great. Now it’s just a matter of doing it over and over again.”

Wright does up to 90 minutes of stretching and exercising prior to each game, so even if he’s not playing his body is taking a toll.

So, even if you don’t notice Wright’s name in a box score, understand he’s still working and his body is being taxed. Hopefully, it will pay off.