Mar 08

Bobby Parnell Looks Good In Mets’ Defeat; Dillon Gee Wild

It is too soon to say much definitive about Terry Collins’ 2013 Mets other than it has the makings of a long year.

Twice this afternoon, the frustrated Mets’ manager answered seemingly innocuous questions about his roster with a curt, “It is March 8.’’

PARNELL: Making strides.

PARNELL: Making strides.

One silver thread out of today’s 3-2 loss to Detroit was reliever Bobby Parnell, who pitched a 1-2-3 sixth as he’s settling in to the closer job with Frank Francisco destined to open the season on the disabled list with a sore right elbow.

Parnell could always throw hard – sometimes in triple digits – but had trouble with command of his secondary pitches. That wasn’t the case against the Tigers.

“My curveball is working really well,’’ said Parnell. “Last year, I was inconsistent with my curveball. Today I was able to able to throw it for strikes early in the count.’’

Parnell was aggressive and attacked the hitters, and perhaps most importantly threw his curveball in counts where the hitter would normally be expecting a fastball.

“His breaking ball has really improved,’’ Collins said. “I loved his demeanor. He’s going after hitters like he knows he’s going to get them out.’’

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Mar 08

Mets In Lakeland To Face Tigers; Gee Gets Ball

Good morning from Lakeland. Just arrived. The drive was a little over two hours, straight highways all the way through past Yeehaw Junction, dozens of orange groves, junkyards, farms and dilapidated motels.

The weather is nice, but it wasn’t a pretty drive.

The Tigers play in a place called Joker Marchant Stadium, built in 1966. It has been renovated several times. There’s a hill behind the left field fence, much like what the Mets have at Tradition Field in right.

The Mets’ bus just arrived and I’ll be heading to the clubhouse in a few minutes. The Tigers are taking batting practice and there’s only a few people in the stands.

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Mar 07

Matt Harvey Overpowering In Mets’ Win

Here it was, the fifth inning and Terry Collins was sending out Matt Harvey again. With his pitch count down, Collins had sent Harvey out for the fourth and was doing it again.

Harvey’s command was that good.

HARVEY: Brilliant today.

HARVEY: Brilliant today.

“I was very impressed (by his pitch count),’’ Collins said. “If he’s going to pitch 215 innings, he’ll be getting deep into games and pitching to contact.’’

A lot of things will have to click for that to happen, notably his change-up. In today’s 4-1 victory over Miami, most everything did with his change-up being superb.

“Awesome,’’ was how catcher Anthony Recker described it. “He had solid command of everything. He was getting ahead of them. Everything was working well. He was definitely locked in.’’

Harvey threw 48 pitches, 35 for strikes. He struck out five and didn’t allow a hit. The Marlins’ only runner came on an error.

“If I’m going to pitch seven, eight innings, I need to have a decent walks-to-strikeouts ratio,’’ said Harvey, who spent a lot of time before this start studying video of his change-up.

“That was something I was looking at from the video,’’ Harvey said. “I was concentrating on staying back. I threw a lot of good ones.’’

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Mar 07

Zack Wheeler, Frank Francisco Injury Updates

Zack Wheeler said today is the first time he felt exceptionally good since straining his right oblique.

WHEELER: Feeling better.

WHEELER: Feeling better.

“Today was the first day I felt 100 percent,’’ Wheeler said. “ Every day leading up to today it felt a little better. It was 100 percent today.’’

Wheeler said he threw all his pitches at about 75 effort, but “I let it out a few times.’’

The plan is for him to rest for two days before throwing another bullpen. Ideally, they’d like to get him in a game sometime next week, but it is dependent on how he responds from this.

Wheeler will open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas even if Johan Santana is not ready for Opening Day.

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Mar 06

Terry Collins Not Worried About Johan Santana

terry collins baby

COLLINS: Says he is eye to eye with Santana.

This time, Terry Collins knew what Johan Santana was doing and seemingly both are on the same page, even though the left-hander was mum today on both his throwing and the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

After mugging with several friends on the Venezuelan WBC team, Santana long-tossed in the outfield, and followed that with several pitches off the mound from where he fielded bunts.

The timetable is a bullpen session, then batting practice and possibly pitching in a game, March 14. That would leave three starts before the start to the season.

“We’re not worried about April 1,” Collins said. “We’re worried about 30 starts. … This is about protecting him.’’

Collins and Santana didn’t appear on the same page Sunday when the latter threw off the mound and the manager questioning his reasoning later, saying he had nothing to prove.

MUPRHY UPDATE: Daniel Murphy, sidelined with a strained right side muscle, played catch, took grounders and hit in the cage. He followed that up by saying he didn’t have a timetable for when he’d take live batting practice and appear in a game.

“I want to play,’’ Murphy said. “But, I want to be smart. There’s three weeks left. There’s time.’’

THE GAME: Jon Niese gave up four runs on six hits in 2.1 innings, and Carlos Torres was hit for seven runs on eight hits in 1.2 innings as the Mets were beaten, 14-10, by the Venezuelan WBC team.

Collin Cowgill continues to impress, going 3-for-4 with two RBI as the DH. … Marlon Byrd hit a three-run homer and Lucas Duda was hitless in two at-bats.

K-ROD SEEKS REDEMPTION: Former Mets reliever Francisco Rodriguez did not distinguish himself during his tenure with the Mets. It wouldn’t be a reach to say the highlight of his stay was general manager Sandy Alderson’s ability to trade him the summer after his fight with his former father-in-law outside the family lounge at Citi Field.

The punch cost Rodriguez an injured hand and night in jail.

Yesterday, he visited with Collins as a member of Venezuela’s WBC team. He told reporters after the game he would like a chance to make amends with the Mets.

“I would love to,” Rodriguez said. “They’ve got a great coaching staff over there. To come back and redeem myself would be great, because I’ve got to be realistic and honest. You would have to be real blind to not see that I fell when I was there. That’s not even a question. To be able to get one more shot and get it done would be great.”

JUST WONDERING: With Mark Teixeira out eight to ten weeks, and to open the season on the disabled list along with Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez, nobody is projecting a hot start from the Yankees.

The media is expected to crush the Yankees assuming a slow start, which could take some of the negative attention away from the Mets.

METS NOTEBOOK: Despite the Mets scoring ten runs, Collins said he’s concerned about the offense. “We’re not swinging the bats very good,’’ he said. “But, we still have around 40 at-bats (per starter) to go.’’ … Kirk Nieuwenhuis is getting treatment on his bruised left knee and said there’s no timetable for his return. I’ll have something with Nieuwenhuis in the morning. … The Mets are in their 25th spring in Port St. Lucie, the seventh longest tenure in the majors. … Matt Harvey will start Thursday against Miami, followed by Greg Burke and Brandon Lyon. … Dillon Gee, Bobby Parnell and Josh Edgin will pitch Friday against Detroit at Lakeland. … Former Mets bullpen coach Guy Conti lives in nearby Vero Beach and is a guest instructor.