Mar 14

Mets Today: Wheeler Starts; Vegas Bound

There’s a lot to like about Zack Wheeler, who really wants the ball Opening Day for the Mets. Manager Terry Collins said if Jonathon Niese isn’t physically ready, he would decide between Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee.

Colon is the most experienced, but with no goodwill stock in the organization. Gee is deserving based on 199 innings last year, but ambivalent to the prospect. Meanwhile, Wheeler wants that game, which are points in his favor.

WHEELER: Starts tonight. (AP)

WHEELER: Starts tonight. (AP)

Also to like about Wheeler is his perfectionist nature. Despite three scoreless innings Sunday against Atlanta, Wheeler wasn’t pleased with his changeup, which will be his focus tonight against Miami.

Wheeler said at times he opens up his shoulders too early.

“Every time you get out there on the mound, it’s been a little problem for me,’’ Wheeler said. “There’s a little too much adrenaline, I guess.’’

Too much adrenaline is an argument against starting Wheeler Opening Day.

In addition:

* A group of Mets will travel to Las Vegas for split-squad games Saturday and Sunday against the Chicago Cubs. Among those expected to go are David Wright, Curtis Granderson, Travis d’Arnaud, Bobby Parnell and starters Colon and Jenrry Mejia.

* Ike Davis (calves) and Lucas Duda (left hamstring) will continue to take batting practice and field grounders at first base. It is hoped they will play in DH roles this weekend. Neither has done any running.

* No word when Wilmer Flores will get another chance to play shortstop, but with two split-squad games this weekend there could be an opportunity.

 

Mar 13

Mets’ Alderson Bluffing On Shortstop Situation

There are times I’m not sure the New York Mets’ Sandy Alderson understands what it means to be a general manager in this market. Other times I am positive he doesn’t.

Take for instance, his caustic remark the other day when asked about the relevance to Atlanta’s signing of Ervin Santana – even if it meant forfeiting a draft pick – in contrast to the Mets sitting on their hands about the mess that is their shortstop situation.

TEJADA: Holding on (Getty)

TEJADA: Holding on (Getty)

“I’m not interpreting it in terms of ‘our situation,’ ” Alderson told reporters Wednesday. “I don’t know that we have a situation here.’’

You don’t? What else would you call it, then?

The Mets continue to say they have confidence in Ruben Tejada, yet their actions are to the contrary.

If they were enthusiastic about Tejada, then why do they keep monitoring Stephen Drew in the long-shot hope agent Scott Boras lowers the price? Would they still consider trading for Nick Franklin if they had confidence in Tejada? Would they wonder about Wilmer Flores if Tejada was their answer?

Meanwhile, Alderson said Tejada isn’t under a microscope, but considering what is swirling around him, what else would you call it?

“We continue to look at how he’s doing, but it won’t be a judgment based on one game or two games or three games,’’ Alderson said. “We’ve got a lot of spring training left. In the meantime, we’ll continue to look at our other options.’’

In classic GM speak; Alderson is saying everything is on the table, including Tejada not being the starter. There’s no other way this can be interpreted.

Meanwhile, of the internal options, Alderson won’t weigh in on Flores, although those in the organization and scouts continue to say he doesn’t have the range or footwork to play shortstop.

Alderson and manager Terry Collins must also buy into this, otherwise wouldn’t he get more of a chance?

As for when Flores might get another chance to play shortstop, Collins said: “You guys are asking me what’s going to happen in four days, and I don’t know what’s going to happen at 9 o’clock tonight.’’

That’s hardly comforting. By the way, two weeks isn’t a lot of time remaining. My guess is Tejada will be the Opening Day shortstop because Alderson is too paralyzed to pull the trigger on any other options.

ON DECK: Gamer/fifth starter situation.

 

Mar 11

Niese Has Rough Outing; Says He’s Fine Physically

The Cardinals hit Jonathon Niese hard today, but not as hard as the Mets’ left-hander hit himself.

The Cardinals rapped Niese for four runs on six hits and two walks in two innings in his exhibition debut, won by the Mets, 9-8, on Zach Lutz’s tie-breaking homer in the ninth.

Niese wasn’t happy with is fastball, which topped out at 89 mph., or his cutter, but took solace in not feeling discomfort his shoulder, which revealed substantial weakness in a Feb. 26 MRI.

“I’m at 50 pitches, so I’m halfway to 100,’’ Niese told reporters. “I would have liked to have done it in more than two innings. I guess it is what it is. I don’t feel like my pitches are as crisp.

“I think some of that might have to do with mechanics. But as far as my arm, it feels better and better each time. That’s a good sign.’’

As for his velocity, the Mets’ projected Opening Day starter said it should increase as he gets stronger in his final three exhibition starts.

Manager Terry Collins said if Niese is not being ready for Opening Day, March 31, against Washington at Citi Field, he would choose between Dillon Gee or Bartolo Colon.

Offensively, in addition to Lutz, Josh Satin and Kirk Nieuwenhuis homered for the Mets. Also, Wilmer Flores, who botched a potential double-play grounder in the first, reached base three times and scored twice.

ON DECK: Mets Wrap.

 

Mar 11

Today’s Mets’ Lineup Against Cardinals

Jonathon Niese makes his first start of the spring after dealing with a dead arm and Wilmer Flores will get the start at shortstop.

Here’s the lineup:

Eric Young Jr., lf
Juan Lagares, cf
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, rf
Josh Satin, 3b
Matt Clark, 1b
Travis d’Arnaud, c
Andrew Brown, dh
Wilmer Flores, ss
Omar Quintanilla, 2b

Jonathon Niese, lhp

ON DECK: What to make of Mets’ spring training so far.

Mar 11

Mets Today: Jon Niese Gets The Ball

Left-hander Jonathon Niese, the Mets’ projected Opening Day starter, will make his spring debut against St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright.

NIESE: Makes spring debut (AP)

NIESE: Makes spring debut (AP)

Niese complained of a dead arm early in camp and the weakness was revealed in a MRI taking in New York, Feb. 26.

Niese threw two innings in an intrasquad game last Thursday and reported no pain or discomfort.

“It’s a great feeling to go out there and not feel any pain in your shoulder,’’ Niese said that day. “It was a great step forward to go out on the mound and feel very close to 100 percent.’’

In addition:

* Ike Davis, as you know, is hobbling in a walking boot on his right foot and isn’t ready to do anything.

* Will today be the day Wilmer Flores starts at shortstop?

* Daniel Murphy (bruised right shin) remains day-to-day.

* Lucas Duda hit in the cage Monday. Perhaps he could graduate to batting practice today?

* Here’s the rest of the week: Wednesday, St. Louis; Thursday, at Washington Nationals; Friday, at Miami Marlins; Saturday, Minnesota (SS) and Chicago Cubs at Las Vegas; Sunday, at St. Louis Cardinals and Cubs at Las Vegas.

ON DECK:   What to make of Mets’ spring training so far.