Mar 14

So Far Flores Making The Grade

Wilmer Flores has done nothing to thwart the Mets’ confidence in him to open the season at shortstop.

He’s made several nice plays in the field, and will only get better as his knowledge of opposing hitters and his positioning improves. Look, he’s not going to be the second coming of Rey Ordonez, but for now the Mets want him to make the basic plays, and for the most part that’s what he’s done.

FLORES: Holding his own.

FLORES: Holding his own.

Flores short-hopped a ball to Eric Campbell for an error Friday (his second of the spring), but that throw could have been handled by an accomplished first baseman. However, Flores made a diving stop to start a double play in the sixth.

“He’s got to get comfortable at shortstop,’’ manager Terry Collins said after Friday’s 13-2 rout of Atlanta. “He’s got to relax and realize what it takes to play there. He’s got to slow the game down a little bit. It’s natural when you’re young to try to hurry things. … Last year he looked comfortable out there, and we’ve got to get him that way this spring.’’

Flores had three hits Friday, including a three-run homer, and overall is batting .455 with four extra-base hits and five RBI.

Currently, Flores is going unchallenged for the shortstop job. Ruben Tejada will make the team as a bench player an Wilmer Flores has done nothing to thwart the Mets’ confidence in him opening the season at shortstop.

Specifically, he’s made several nice plays in the field, and will only get better as his knowledge of opposing hitters and his positioning improves. Look, he’s not going to be the second coming of Rey Ordonez, but for now the Mets want him to make the basic plays, and for the most part that’s what he’s done.

Flores short-hopped a ball to Eric Campbell for an error Friday (his second of the spring), but that throw could have been handled by an accomplished first baseman. However, Flores made a diving stop to start a double play in the sixth.

“He’s got to get comfortable at shortstop,’’ manager Terry Collins said after Friday’s 13-2 rout of Atlanta. “He’s got to relax and realize what it takes to play there. He’s got to slow the game down a little bit. It’s natural when you’re young to try to hurry things.”

Flores had three hits Friday, including a three-run homer, and overall is batting .455 with four extra-base hits and five RBI.

Currently, Flores is going unchallenged for the shortstop job. Ruben Tejada will make the team as a bench player and Matt Reynolds – who has a game-winning homer – will go to the minor leagues.

Mar 07

Mets Matters: deGrom, Matz Sharp In Split Squad Games

There was more good news for the Mets concerning their young pitching with strong performances from Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz during Saturday afternoon’s split squad games.

The Mets beat Atlanta, 3-1, in deGrom’s start as he gave up one run in three innings; Matz pitched two scoreless innings in his start, with the Mets losing, 8-7, to Miami.

mets-matters logoLast year’s NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom, threw only 19 pitches in his two innings and was so efficient Terry Collins gave him a third inning.

“I feel like my command is there, so just staying consistent with my delivery,’’ deGrom told reporters. He is tinkering with a curveball, but didn’t throw any.

In the other game, Matz struck out two and hit a batter with a pitch.

“I was a little jittery,’’ Matz said. “I was excited to be out there, and it got the best of me. But I was able to settle down.’’

MURPHY UPDATE: Daniel Murphy confirmed his right hand injury to be a bone bruise and not a fracture. Murphy was hit on the hand by Detroit’s David Price Friday.

“It’s a little sore, but not as much as I thought,’’ said Murphy.

CONFORTO HAS BIG DAY: Michael Conforto, the Mets’ 2014 first-round draft pick out of Oregon State, went 3-for-4 with three RBI against the Braves.

Conforto had a RBI single in the second and two-run double in the fifth.

“I kind of surprised myself a little bit. I felt very comfortable,’’ said Conforto. “My goal was just to come out here and have fun and embrace the moment. The opportunity to be out here with these guys is pretty good. I had a lot of fun today.’’

Conforto was in the starting lineup and given the lineup card by manager Terry Collins. Conforto said he planned to send the card to his grandfather.

GEE WORKS OUT OF PEN: Ranked sixth in the rotation, Dillon Gee, will work out of the bullpen unless he’s traded.

Gee threw 2.2 scoreless innings Saturday against the Marlins. He last pitched out of the bullpen in 2011.

UP NEXT: Jon Niese will start Sunday against Boston at Port St. Lucie. The game will be telecast on WPIX.

 

Mar 05

Today In Mets History: Staub Ends Holdout

On this date in 1973, outfielder Rusty Staub ended a holdout and signed a three-year contract for $100,000 a season.

Staub played nine years with the Mets spanning two stints (1972-75 and 1981-85). He retired after the 1985 season with 2,716 career hits, including 709 with the Mets. He is the only player having at least 500 hits for four different teams (Mets, Montreal, Detroit and Houston).

STAUB: A great Met. (TOPPS)

STAUB: A great Met. (TOPPS)

Mets fans remember Staub for his gritty performance in the 1973 postseason. In Game 4 of the NLCS against Cincinnati, Staub separated his right shoulder when he plowed into the outfield fence while robbing Dan Driessen of extra bases. In the World Series against Oakland, Staub was forced to throw the ball underhand, but hit .423 with a homer and six RBI.

A six-time All-Star, Staub ended his career as one of the game’s best pinch-hitters with 99 hits, including eight homers with 72 RBI.

Staub originally signed with the expansion Houston Colt .45s (later Astros), but was traded to Montreal before the 1969 season and became an original Expo. After three years he was traded to the Mets in exchange for first baseman Mike Jorgensen, shortstop Tim Foli and outfielder Ken Singleton.

Staub also played with Detroit and Texas.

A noted wine connoisseur, in retirement Staub owned two restaurants in Manhattan and founded the “Rusty Staub Foundation,’’ which raised over $112 million for New York City police and fireman following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

ON DECK: Mets On Tap Today: Bartolo Colon starts against Washington.

Mar 04

Mets Matters: Nieuwenhuis Has Big Day

As far as first impressions go, Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a great one going 4-for-4 with a RBI in the Mets’ 8-2 rout of Atlanta.

mets-matters logoNieuwenhuis, who is out of options, is competing Matt den Dekker for a reserve outfield spot. Not having options gives Nieuwenhuis an edge.

“He’s out of options, so it’s nice to see him have a big day,’’ manager Terry Collins told reporters. “He’s had to battle so many injuries in the last couple of years. The one thing we saw both he and Matt do, that’s shorten their swings up a little bit to where they can put the ball in play more consistently.’’

Today’s box score: Mets 8, Atlanta 2

GEE ROCKED: Dillon Gee, whom the Mets are trying to deal, gave up two runs in a two-inning, 35-pitch debut.

Gee is next scheduled to pitch Sunday out of the bullpen.

EXTRA INNINGS: Wilmer Flores left the game in the fifth inning when he was hit by a pitch on his left pinkie finger. … Flores’ replacement, Matt Reynolds had a RBI single. … Leadoff hitter candidate Juan Lagares had two hits, including a double, with a walk and run scored. … Lucas Duda, out with a left intercostal muscle strain, swung the bat. … Former Met Eric Young, stole a base on Travis d’Arnaud. … The Mets play Washington Thursday (5:05 p.m.), with Bartolo Colon getting the start. Gabriel Ynoa, Cory Mazzoni and Josh Edgin will also work for the Mets.

Feb 22

Wright’s Comeback Is Key Met Issue; Acknowledges He Must Adjust

Numerous times I’ve said the most pressing issue with the Mets is David Wright’s health – regardless of what happens with Matt Harvey.

Wright is entering the third season of an eight-year, $138-million, an award for being the face of the franchise and the promise of what he could bring to the Mets through the 2020 season. When Wright is whole, the Mets have a chance of being the same.

WRIGHT: Change in the air. (AP)

WRIGHT: Change in the air. (AP)

He had a decent 2013 season hitting .307, but injuries limited him to 112 games. A shoulder injury cut last year short and held him to eight homers and only 63 RBI. He hasn’t hit at least 25 homers with 100 RBI since 2010, and that’s the basis for him being the key issue – if he doesn’t start post real All-Star numbers then the contract becomes a burden and consequently a distraction.

That’s why what he told reporters Sunday was important. He acknowledged the need to slow it down from time to time. Only twice in the last five years has he played as many as 155 games, and even that might be too much.

“I think it is probably to the point where I have to be a little more realistic that it’s probably not in my best interest or the team’s best interest to go out there and play 162 games,’’ Wright said. “I think a good off day here and there probably can be beneficial for both me and the team.’’

But, that’s up to Terry Collins. If he left it up to Wright, he’d play. Collins must be disciplined enough to have a plan with Wright and stick to it. Usually, that means resting him the day before an off day. That’s a two-day rest.

Wright also acknowledged he must modify his game, meaning being more selective and concentrate on driving the ball in the gaps and not worrying about pulling.

“I remember our first year in Citi Field [in 2009], I think I hit 10 [homers] and I felt like I had a very productive season – and it was because of driving runs in, scoring runs,’’ Wright told reporters today in Port St. Lucie. “I don’t judge a season by how many home runs I hit. It’s more being productive, more being a middle-of-the-order-type hitter, where I’m driving in runs, scoring runs.

“The thing that bothered me last year wasn’t the lack of home runs. It was more that I just didn’t feel like I was the hitter I’m capable of being.’’

At 32, Wright’s best days are behind him, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be good ones ahead of him. After all, he has six more years, and with the Mets thinking playoffs, they can’t afford Wright being a shell of what he has been. He’s at the stage of his career when he knows he has to adjust. Professional hitters are able to do that – which is what he acknowledged this afternoon.

Wright has always been a pro, and I wouldn’t expect anything less of him now.