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.

 

Mar 07

Mets Wrap: Tie Cardinals; Wright And Murphy Play

The New York Mets and St. Louis played to a 5-5 tie today in Port St. Lucie. Wilmer Flores and Eric Campbell singled in runs in the ninth inning to tie the game.

Fifth-starter candidate Daisuke Matsuzaka, in his second appearance of the spring, gave up two runs on six hits in two innings. Another fifth-starter John Lannan candidate, gave up two runs on three hits in two innings.

Rookie Rafael Montero also worked two innings and gave up on run.

In addition:

* David Wright and Daniel Murphy played in their first exhibition games of the spring. Murphy went 1-for-2 while Wright was hitless in three at-bats.

* Anthony Recker and Andrew Brown homered for the Mets.

* Manager Terry Collins said Flores would get a start at shortstop early next week.

* Bartolo Colon and Bobby Parnell pitched in an intrasquad game Thursday and are scheduled to pitch Monday against Miami in Port St. Lucie.

Mar 07

Mets Today: Wright, Murphy Playing; Davis, Duda Still Sitting

David Wright and Daniel Murphy are scheduled to return to the New York Mets’ lineup this afternoon against St. Louis at Port St. Lucie.

Both experienced strained oblique muscles in previous spring training camps and manager Terry Collins took the approach of easing them into the exhibition schedule.

They each played in an intrasquad game Thursday, with Wright homering against Bartolo Colon.

In addition:

* Neither Ike Davis (both calves) nor Lucas Duda (tight left hamstring) will not play.

* Closer Bobby Parnell, who threw off the mound Thursday, will not be available.

* The instant replay testing will be used.

Mar 06

Mets Wrap: Game Rained Out; Davis, Duda Ailing; Wright Plays Intrasquad Game

The New York Mets’ game against the Houston Astros was rained out today, forcing them to alter their pitching rotation.

Fifth-starter candidate John Lannan, scheduled to start, will now work Friday against St. Louis at Port St. Lucie. Daisuke Matsuzaka will also pitch against the Cardinals. Rafael Montero and Steven Matz, also scheduled to pitch today, will go tomorrow.

In addition:

* Recovery for first basemen Ike Davis and Lucas Duda from leg injuries remain slow, with neither expected to play soon. Davis hit against live pitching in an intrasquad game, but did no running.

* Bartolo Colon, who has been bothered with a tight calf, threw three scoreless innings in an intrasquad game and said he will be ready to pitch Monday against Miami.

* David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada hit in the intrasquad game. Wright homered. Jonathon Niese and Bobby Parnell pitched after Colon.