Feb 20

Wrapping The Day: Harvey Cleared; Parnell Takes It Slow

Unquestionably, the most important item coming out of the New York Mets’ spring training camp in Port St. Lucie was the news recovering pitcher Matt Harvey was cleared to throw.

“[Dr. David Altchek] said everything was fine and basically that I can start throwing,’’ Harvey told reporters today. “So I don’t know exactly which date that is, but in the next couple of days. That was obviously good news for me.’’

Harvey acknowledged he can’t afford to rush his rehab, and spoke specifically with Altchek about that issue.

In addition:

* Closer Bobby Parnell is taking it slowly in his rehab (Harvey, please take note). Parnell was supposed to throw off the mound today, but pushed it back until tomorrow.

* Manager Terry Collins said reliever Jeurys Familia has the stuff to be a closer. However, does he have the command and mental make-up?

* ESPN reported the Mets are monitoring the Seattle Mariners about shortstop Nick Franklin. Mets’ back-up shortstop Omar Quintanilla reported to camp.

* Position players will have their physicals Friday, with the first full-squad workout scheduled for Saturday.

Feb 20

Mets’ Matt Harvey Cleared To Throw

Filed under the category of good news for the New York Mets: Matt Harvey is cleared to throw. It’s important to know this does not accelerate his timetable and should not be construed to mean he will pitch this season.

HARVEY: Green light.

HARVEY: Green light.

Harvey, who finally relented to Tommy John surgery after initially wanting to rest, is expected to miss this season but be ready for next spring training.

The way these things progress, it first starts with a game of catch on flat ground – like you did with your dad in the backyard – with the distance gradually increasing to build up arm strength.

Eventually, leads to throwing halfway up the mound for a few sessions until reaching the rubber. The initial times on the rubber will not be at full speed. It might not be until the end of spring training before Harvey reaches that objective.

You’ll hear often the most important days are not the ones he throw, but the day after to see how his elbow responds.

Harvey expressed a desire to be with the team during the regular season opposed to the staff in Florida. While this hasn’t been decided, he will spend some time in Port St. Lucie for extended spring training and possibly minor league games.

It’s a good idea for Harvey to rehab in New York because Terry Collins, Sandy Alderson and Dan Warthen can keep an on him, not just to see how he’s progressing physically, but to be able to put the brakes on him mentally and emotionally.

Twice already in his young career – that we know of – Harvey pressed the issue when it came to dealing with pain.

First, he pitched through a tweak in his back and subsequently missed a start. Next, he tried to pitch through discomfort in his forearm that led to his elbow injury and eventual surgery.

If Harvey resists the urge to push things, he should be all right.

Feb 20

Mets List: Top Ten Prospects

At least four of the New York Mets’ top ten prospects according to Baseball Prospectus are expected to play for the organization this season.

Baseball Prospectus, a website dealing with minor league prospects, to nobody’s surprise lists first pitcher Noah Syndergaard, whom manager Terry Collins said has a “hook from hell,’’ referring to the curveball to complement his 97 mph., fastball.

Here’s the list and their chances of playing for the Mets this season:

RHP Noah Syndergaard: As a Super Two, the Mets don’t foresee bringing up Syndergaard before June. Until then the Mets will use Daisuke Matsuzaka and/or John Lannan as the fifth starter.

C Travis d’Arnaud: Injuries derailed his opportunity last year. He goes into the season as the projected starter. The early returns were good on him defensively, but he needs to show something at the plate.

INF Wilmer Flores: He showed flashes of being able to hit, but the Mets must find a position for him. Manager Terry Collins left open the possibility of playing him at shortstop, but said he’ll likely open the season on the minor league level to get at-bats.

RHP Rafael Montero: As with Syndergaard, don’t expect to see him before June.

SS Amed Rosario: Was in the rookie year in 2013, and will be in Class A this season. He’s still at least three years away.

1B Dominic Smith: Last year’s first-round draft pick played for two Mets’ Rookie League teams last year and is expected to start the season in Single A. If he hits for the power expected of him, he could finish in Double A.

OF Cesar Puello: Is the Mets’ top outfield prospect outside of Juan Lagares. He hit .326 last year at Double A Binghamton and is expected to be in Triple A this season.

C Kevin Plawecki: Some scouts say he might have a higher upside than d’Arnaud. He’ll start the season in Double A.

CF Brandon Nimmo: One of Sandy Alderson’s draft picks. Hit .273 last season at Single A, which doesn’t warrant an immediate promotion.

RHP Marcos Molina: Has a 1.25 WHIP in two seasons of Rookie League ball. Could start there again or possibly in Single A.

Note: Each Thursday I plan to post a Mets’ related list.

 

 

Feb 18

Mets’ Zack Wheeler Likes Low Profile

One of the highlights for the New York Mets last season was a double-header sweep of Atlanta anchored by future aces Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler.

If you weren’t reading about Harvey last summer you were reading about Wheeler. This spring most of the ink is going to Noah Syndergaard, whom the Mets expect will be in the major leagues in June.

WHEELER: That night in Atlanta.

WHEELER: That night in Atlanta.

“That’s fine with me,’’ Wheeler told reporters Tuesday in Port St. Lucie when asked about the spotlight being on Syndergaard. “I don’t have to have all the attention.’’

Actually, in Wheeler’s perfect world, he would rather have little, if any. Wheeler is extremely quiet and shy, and if given the choice, he’d rather not talk if he didn’t have to.

Wheeler was 7-5 with a 3.42 ERA last season in 17 starts. Manager Terry Collins doesn’t presently see an innings limit on Wheeler, and believes his composure and natural stuff will enable him to progress.

Collins said at the Winter Meetings Harvey showed he could make adjustments on the run and thinks Wheeler has that same capability.

Wheeler was matter-of-fact when asked today what he needs to do to improve: “Just being more consistent, throwing more strikes and stuff.’’

Ask any veteran pitcher and he’d say the same thing. That’s one of the things the Mets like about Wheeler.

 

Feb 18

Wilmer Flores Could Be Viable Shortstop Option

The New York Mets have long touted Wilmer Flores as one of their future stars. To some degree, having Flores and Ruben Tejada made it easier to let Jose Reyes walk.

FLORES: Could get shortstop time.

FLORES: Could get shortstop time.

With Tejada coming off a bad year and striking out in the free-agent shortstop market, the Mets are considering giving Flores another chance at shortstop.

And, it’s a good idea.

The Mets drafted Flores as a shortstop, but moved him to other positions because he lacked the quickness in making the first step.

Even so, manager Terry Collins suggested at the Winter Meetings Flores might get a look at shortstop in spring training. Collins reiterated that intent after Flores’ success at a Michigan fitness camp, where he dramatically improved his quickness and speed.

With his quickness and speed improved, it makes sense to experiment with Flores. Shortstops don’t need speed. Cal Ripken wasn’t fast, but relied on quickness and positioning.

It could be the same for Flores, who suffered with ankle injuries last year.

“We did a lot of ankle exercises,’’ Flores told reporters about his work at the fitness camp. “We worked on things that we needed to work on, like speed, agility and getting stronger. I’d be happy to go again.’’

Flores played shortstop for four years in the minors, and is willing to try again.

“It’s not going to be a new position,’’ Flores said. “I’m sure I can play.’’

That confidence and Collins’ willingness to experiment are no guarantees Flores can play shortstop on the major league level.

Because the Mets are giving Tejada every chance to redeem himself, he’ll get most of the time at shortstop during spring training. The remaining time Flores gets won’t be nearly enough to show he can play the position.

However, Flores has greater offensive potential than Tejada, thereby giving the Mets a dilemma. Because the Mets need offense, it’s possible Flores could make the Opening Day roster as a role player off the bench.

Assuming Flores makes the team, he probably won’t play enough, certainly at shortstop, to make a substantial impact.

What then, is the best option?

The Mets’ options are to carry Flores as a bench player or to send him back to Triple-A. If it is the latter, it must be under the provision he only plays shortstop, and not second, third or first.

Collins suggested as much today.

“I think with what we have on the infield – you know what? – if he’s not going to get a lot of a playing time, he’s got to go play at his age,” Collins said. “Because the ceiling on his bat is too high. He’s got to go get at-bats.”

Flores needs to learn to play shortstop, and that takes repetitions. Lots of them.