Mar 12

Mets Wrap: Alderson On Shortstop Situation; Lannan Sharp In Loss; Davis Still Out

New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said shortstop Ruben Tejada is not operating under “a microscope,’’ but it sure seems that way.

Alderson said there’s enough time remaining in spring training for Tejada to make his mark, but at the same time hasn’t ruled out signing Stephen Drew and rumors continue to percolate on a trade with Seattle for Nick Franklin.

Alderson did not discount Wilmer Flores, either. All this adds up to: Shortstop remains unsettled.

In addition:

* John Lannan retired the final eight hitters he faced in a 6-4 loss to St. Louis. The Mets are considering him for a bullpen job.

* First basemen Ike Davis (both calves) and Lucas Duda (left hamstring) remain sidelined. It is possible Duda could play as a DH tomorrow. Davis took grounders today, but still has to prove he can run before he plays.

* Reliever Kyle Farnsworth was hit hard again and his chances of making the Opening Day roster are dwindling. Farnsworth has a March 23 out in his contract.

* Daniel Murphy started for the first time since last Friday and went 0-for-3.

* Closer Bobby Parnell is being clocked at 89 mph., but said he’s not concerned.

* Manager Terry Collins said reliever Carlos Torres would make the Opening Day roster.

 

Mar 12

Mets Today: John Lannan Starts; Returns Of Duda And Murphy Possible

Fifth-starter candidate John Lannan will start today against St. Louis in Port St. Lucie.

Lannan, signed to compete for the fifth-starter role, is also being considered for a spot in the bullpen in the wake of lefty Josh Edgin being sent to the minor league camp.

Whatever happens this spring, Lannan said he’s not ready to give up starting, and at 29, has plenty of time remaining.

“I don’t think anything right now. I’m just going to take it as it is,’’ Lannan said of his role. “I think that I’m not done as a starter. I think the last few years I’ve kind of run into, I don’t want to say back luck, but some unfortunate circumstances – in 2012 getting sent to Triple-A and last year with the injury [surgery on left leg] I had.

“I don’t think I’m done [starting], but I’m looking forward to the possibility of pitching in the big leagues. Whatever capacity that is, I’m just looking forward to it.’’

In addition today:

* Daniel Murphy practiced outside Tuesday, so he might be able to play.

* Lucas Duda could return to the lineup today or tomorrow. He’s been bothered by a tight left hamstring, but has been hitting in the cage.

* Bartolo Colon and Jenrry Mejia are scheduled to start the two games in Las Vegas, Saturday and Sunday, respectively against the Chicago Cubs. Also expected on the travel squad are David Wright, Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, Travis d’Arnaud and Bobby Parnell.

ON DECK:  The need for a second lefty in the bullpen.

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

Revisiting Mets’ Primary Spring Training Issues

On the first day of spring training, I posed five Mets manager Terry Collins needed to answer by Opening Day. Now, halfway through – 20 days remaining to be exact – it is time to revisit those questions, which haven’t been done in the positive:

Q: WHO WILL BE THE FIFTH STARTER?
A: Ideally, they wanted Jenrry Mejia but his elbow remains an issue, and there’s a chance he could open the season in the bullpen or the minor leagues. Either way, the fifth starter role isn’t imminent. Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan are candidates. Without Mejia, Matsuzaka appeared to have the inside track, and that’s likely to remain. With lefty reliever Josh Edgin sent to the minor league camp, Lannan will get time working in relief (there will be a separate post on that later today).

PARNELL: Said he'll be ready (AP)

PARNELL: Said he’ll be ready (AP)

Q: WILL BOBBY PARNELL BE READY BY OPENING DAY?
A: Parnell, recovering from neck surgery, insists he’ll be ready, but he’s only made one appearance. Collins would like to give him at least seven or eight. Assuming Parnell is ready, Vic Black will get the set-up role, but his control hasn’t been good. Veterans Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde are competing for jobs in the bullpen and both have closer experience.

Q: WILL THE IKE DAVIS SAGA EVER END?
A: Not any time soon. The Mets tried to trade Davis since October, but their asking price was too high. Davis kept tabs on the rumors and acknowledged he is surprised to be in Port St. Lucie. He began camp the projected starter, but it hasn’t been a good spring. First, he acknowledged he hid an oblique strain last year to avoid the appearance of making an excuse. The following day he ripped into the reporter who had the audacity to write what Davis said. Next was tightness in both calves, caused by too much work in the weight room. He’s currently in a walking boot. About those 90-plus at-bats Collins wanted? Not happening. He’ll likely start the season on the disabled list.

Q: CAN RUBEN TEJADA BECOME THE PLAYER EXPECTED OF HIM?
A: That doesn’t look promising, either. Tejada has a strained hamstring and his defense has not been good. He’s also not hitting. The Mets aren’t close to signing free-agent Stephen Drew or trading for Seattle’s Nick Franklin. Wilmer Flores started today at shortstop and could get more time.

Q: WHO WILL BE THE LEADOFF HITTER?
A: Collins prefers Eric Young, who missed several games with tightness in his side. Collins prefers Daniel Murphy second and Tejada – if he plays – down in the order. Currently, it appears it will come down between Eric or Chris Young. The latter, however, strikes out too much to be a successful leadoff hitter. If Eric Young gets the job, we should see Juan Lagares in the minor leagues instead of languishing on the bench.

ON DECK: Lannan in the bullpen.

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.