Mar 12

Lannan Sharp In Loss To Cardinals

Lefty John Lannan scored points again today in his effort to land a role with the New York Mets. Signed to compete for the fifth-starter job, Lannan could make the Opening Day roster out of the bullpen.

Lannan gave up two unearned runs in four innings, but retired his last eight hitters in a 6-4 loss to St. Louis.

Lannan struck out five, but perhaps more importantly, got nine ground-ball outs. What’s next for Lannan, he doesn’t know, but sounded as if he’ll start again.

“The possibility of [relieving] has been brought up to me, just in conversation,’’ Lannan told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “I started today, and I’m going to act as if I’m starting five days from now, until I’m told otherwise.’’

The Mets are projected to carry seven relievers, but currently Scott Rice would be the only left-hander unless Lannan makes the roster.

ON DECK: Mets Wrap.

Mar 11

Mets Could Use John Lannan In Bullpen

Starter or reliever, it doesn’t matter to left-hander John Lannan, who just wants to be on the New York Mets’ Opening Day roster.

Lannan, 29, was brought into camp to compete for the fifth-starter role with Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jenrry Mejia. Matsuzaka appears to have the inside track, but Lannan will start Wednesday against St. Louis.

LANNAN:  Will pitch for food. (AP)

LANNAN: Will pitch for food. (AP)

However, the demotion of reliever Josh Edgin to the minor league camp leaves Scott Rice as the only lefty in the pen, and the Mets are seriously considering Lannan in that role.

“I think that’s been the plan since Day 1. They’ve been pretty transparent with that,’’ Lannan told reporters in Port St. Lucie Tuesday morning about working in relief. “TC asked me how I felt about it. Obviously I’ll do anything to help the team, in any capacity.’’

Lannan has appeared in 148 major league games, all as a starter. He’s only worked out of the bullpen seven times in 95 minor league games, so there’s obviously a lot to learn.

The times Lannan did work in the pen he knew when he was to enter the game and had time to warm up. This will be different.

“I want to see how I am when the phone rings and I don’t have any warning,’’ Lannan said. “You always hear about that adrenaline rush when the phone rings. If it does come to that point, I want to see how I react to that.’’

Lannan said he can get loose quickly, but there’s more to it than that, as he must see how his arm adjusts to: 1) warming up several times in the same game, 2) how he responds to back-to-back appearances, and 3) how he feels after pitching two or three innings one day and coming back the next.

Lannan is coming back from surgery in the offseason to repair a tendon linking the thigh muscles to his left knee. So far, he’s pleased with his camp, having given up two runs on hour hits with four strikeouts and zero walks in two appearances.

Lannan still believes he can start on this level, and at his age, he’s worth keeping around in whatever role. Pitching is such a commodity and the Mets have several issues in their rotation, so even if he makes the roster in the pen he could start again.

ON DECK: Mets vs. Cardinals result.

Mar 04

Mets Today: Zack Wheeler Gets The Ball; Injury Updates

After Jonathon Niese was scratched from today’s start, the New York Mets moved up Zack Wheeler against the Houston Astros.

Wheeler was shut down last summer by a combination of a tight shoulder and innings count. All reports have him throwing well this spring.

With Matt Harvey out for the season, Wheeler will draw the bulk of the focus when it comes to the Mets’ pitching. However, Wheeler grabbed his fair of attention last summer, going 7-5 with a 3.42 ERA in 17 starts that spanned 100 innings.

Wheeler cited improved fundamentals as his 2014 goal, saying earlier this spring: “Just being more consistent, throwing more strikes and stuff.’’

In addition:

* Kyle Farnsworth, John Church, Vic Black, Adam Kolarek, Scott Rice and Cory Mazzoni are also scheduled to pitch.

* Ike Davis, who was scratched from yesterday’s game, is expected to play. Also expected to play is shortstop Ruben Tejada (tight left hamstring) and Eric Young (tightness in his side).

* Today’s game will be telecast by SNY.

Feb 28

Mets Wrap: Drop Exhibition Opener; Ike Davis homers

The New York Mets (0-1) dropped their exhibition opener Friday, 5-4, to the Washington Nationals in Port St. Lucie.

It’s just the first game, but the Mets have to be encouraged by the performances of pitchers Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom, who each threw two perfect innings.

The Mets also got a two-run homer from Ike Davis.

Neither Montero nor deGrom are expected to make the Opening Day roster, but both could be brought up in June. Each is expected to open the season in Triple-A Las Vegas.

The Nationals scored four runs in the final three innings off several pitchers, including Gonzalez German and Jeff Walters. Gonzalez is competing for one of the Mets’ seven bullpen spots, but Walters, who saved 38 games last season for Double-A Binghamton, is expected to open in Triple-A.

We should all temper our enthusiasm for Davis, but that being said, it is better than striking out four times. Manager Terry Collins said he wants to give the struggling and often-times frustrated first baseman at least 90 at-bats in spring training.

Wilfredo Tovar left the game in the seventh inning with a right hamstring injury.

On deck: Left-hander John Lannan will start Saturday against Miami’s Kevin Slowey. The Mets will also pitch Vic Black, Scott Rice, Kyle Farnsworth and Ryan Reid.

Feb 12

Analyzing Mets’ Bullpen After Jose Valverde Signing

For each of the past three winters New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has tried to construct a bullpen. Until Bobby Parnell showed signs of being the first reliable closer since Billy Wagner was traded to Boston in 2009 in a salary dump, it has been a ninth-inning adventure.

Francisco Rodriguez and Frank Francisco were tried, but their best days were in the rear view mirror. Alderson brought in another retread today with the signing of Jose Valverde to a minor league contract.

PARNELL: Lead domino in bullpen.

PARNELL: Lead domino in bullpen.

He’ll compete against the masses for a spot in the bullpen. Alderson said he other day the Mets had money to spend, but after striking out on Grant Balfour and Fernando Rodney, he hopes to catch an encore from Valverde.

Valverde, 35, was on the top when he converted 49 of 49 opportunities in 2011 for Detroit, but spit the bit the following year in the playoffs. He had an unimpressive nine saves in 12 opportunities with a 5.59 ERA last year.

The construction of the Mets’ bullpen depends on Parnell, who saved 22 of 29 games before undergoing surgery last September to repair a herniated disk in his neck. Parnell lost 30 pounds after the surgery, but told reporters in Port St. Lucie he’s doing fine.

“Everything is feeling great, no pain,’’ Parnell said. “I mean, I haven’t done it yet, so obviously, you want to know. But we’re doing little things every day to get to that point. I’ve had no setbacks or pain or anything like that.’’

Parnell won’t be cleared for two weeks, and there is reasonable doubt he won’t be ready for the start of the season. There hasn’t been an announcement of how many innings manager Terry Collins wants to give him this spring. Normally, starters hope to get 30 innings with relievers nearly half that amount.

Vic Black, whom the Mets acquired from Pittsburgh last year in the Marlon Byrd-John Buck deal, is first in line after Parnell. Black is 25 and throws in the mid-90s, which is a lot to like.

If Black doesn’t make it, presumably Kyle Farnsworth and Valverde are next. Assuming Black pitches well and wins the closer job, Valverde and Farnsworth will compete for the set-up role, vacated when LaTroy Hawkins left as a free agent.

In large part because of Parnell’s emergence and Hawkins’ resurgence, the Mets’ bullpen finished 22nd in the majors with a 3.98 ERA in 2013. They ranked 29th and 28th in Alderson’s first two years.

Alderson has built on the cheap, but that approach would have changed had he signed Balfour or Rodney. Joel Hanrahan is available should Alderson have the urge to spend.

Truth is, you can’t have too many pitchers – starters or relievers – in the system because there are always injuries and pitching slumps. In addition, a guy like Valverde, if he shows something, could be a July trade chip.

You never know.

Outside of the 29-year-old Parnell, Farnsworth and Valverde, we’re not talking about significant experience. The rest of the pen includes Jeurys Familia, 24, who throws in the mid-90s, Gonzalez Germen, Carlos Torres, Ryan Reid, Jeff Walters and Cory Mazzoni, all whom throw from the right side.

The Mets’ left-handers are Josh Edgin and Scott Rice, the latter whom was a 32-year-old rookie last season after 14 years of knocking on the major league doors. The Mets also invited prospect lefty Jack Leathersich to compete for a spot.

That makes 13 relievers competing for seven slots.

“We’ve got a lot of good young arms that we like; they just don’t have much experience,’’ Alderson said. “Acquiring someone with some experience would give us some comfort going into Spring Training, but we don’t want to preclude some of our younger pitchers from getting a solid opportunity either.’’

How much comfort Valverde gives remains to be seen. He certainly didn’t make Jim Leyland’s job easier the past two years.

But, that’s what you get when you shop in the bargain bin.