The Mets are closer to settling on their Opening Day roster, and being the Mets, some of their decision-making is predicated on injuries.
Half their infield – third baseman David Wright and second baseman Daniel Murphy, both of whom are slowed with strained intercostal muscles – will be determined at the end of the week, but the disabled list remains very much in play for both.
Wright reported no problems after taking live batting practice today, but how he felt after his swings is not the story.
“It’s the next step,’’ Wright told reporters. “Any time you get to the next step, it’s a significant step. It’s one step closer. … It’s important that I see how I feel tomorrow. I’ve said all along that Opening Day is my goal.’’
In all probability, Wright and Murphy will open the season backdated to the disabled list, meaning they would miss only the first five games of the season. It they were to play in a major league exhibition game and are injured, their DL stints would be backdated to the day after the injury.
Murphy played in a minor league game today and saw his first meaningful pitch since last season said it was “like trying to hit an aspirin.’’ Murphy went 1-for-2 with a walk, but said the biggest test might have been when he checked his swing and didn’t feel anything.
Because of the structure of minor league spring training games, Murphy could get as many as five or six at-bats a game, but that could increase the possibility of overdoing things and sustaining another injury.
If both Wright and Murphy go on the DL, one scenario has Justin Turner playing third and Jordany Valdespin at second. Another has Zach Lutz playing third and Turner at second.
Brandon Hicks is no longer a third base option as he was outrighted to the minors today, leaving way for Omar Quintanilla to make the team.
In addition, the Mets optioned to the minor league camp left-hander Aaron Laffey, Andrew Brown, Brian Bixler and Jamie Hoffman. By sending down Laffey, the Mets are reasonably sure Shaun Marcum – who missed his last start and took a cortisone injection in his shoulder – will be able to rejoin the rotation Thursday. Of course, if he’s not, it’s easy enough to recall Laffey.
A long shot to make the Opening Day roster, despite their need for defense in the outfield, was center fielder Matt den Dekker. That’s not going to happen now as broke his right wrist attempting to make a catch today. Compared to Jim Edmonds, den Dekker has had an exceptional spring in the field, but has struggled until recently at the plate.
METS OPTION d’ARNAUD: The Mets’ key to the R.A. Dickey was getting catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who was sent to Triple-A Las Vegas.
The Mets gambled keeping d’Arnaud around this week because had he been injured he would have opened the season on the major league disabled list, which would have started the clock on his service time. Should d’Arnaud, who hit .343 this spring, spend the first 20 days of the season in the minor leagues, his free agency would be delayed from after the 2018 season to after the 2019 season. His arbitration status would also be delayed a year if he’s not one of the top 22 percent of rookies called up.
That’s irrelevant insists GM Sandy Alderson.
“I know people talk about control and all of that,’’ Alderson said. “If John Buck gets hurt tomorrow, Travis d’Arnaud is the front-line catcher.’’
THE GAME: Matt Harvey’s next-to-last spring training start was not a good one, as he was hit for four runs in five innings in a 9-4 loss in a split-squad game to Detroit. In the other game, the Mets rallied from six runs down to beat St. Louis as Jamie Hoffman, Lutz and Mike Baxter homered.
Harvey struck out the side in the first, including Triple-Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, but it was all uphill from there. Harvey said he let his emotions get away from him and overthrew after the first inning.
“Definitely something I learned is try not to get too pumped up for a team and a lineup like that – back off and let everything work,’’ Harvey said.
Also not having a good day was set-up reliever Brandon Lyon, who gave up five runs on six his in one third of an inning.