June 2013

Wheeler: “I don’t think I’m the savior at all”

Zack Wheeler just held a 14-minute introductory press conference, a day before he is slated to make his big league debut at Turner Field. Here’s a sampling of what was said:

wheelercroppedWhat kind of turnout are you expecting tomorrow?
“From what I hear and see, it’s going to be a huge turnout. I grew up in Smyrna and that’s about 30 minutes away from here. I moved out to where I live now [Dallas, Ga.] my eighth grade year. I’ve got both sides coming, so it’s going to be a lottttt of people.”

How do you feel about people expecting you to be the savior here?
“I don’t think I’m the savior at all. We’ve got great arms here and we’ve got great players. We might not be doing too well right now, but I know the talent of these guys and hopefully we can turn it around soon. I’m just trying to come up here and help the team any way I can.”

Can you enjoy this considering how much the Mets are struggling?
“Obviously you’re getting pulled up to the big leagues so it’s going to be a good time in your career, a good time in your life. You can enjoy it. I’m up here trying to help the team any way possible, good or bad.”

What did you learn at Triple-A Las Vegas?
“It was definitely an experience just seeing balls fly and the ground’s really hard, so some balls get through the infield. I think it makes you battle a little bit more, puts a little bit more pressure on you. That’s what I took away from that league is it puts you in situations that you might not be in sometimes, like those ground balls getting through one after another, then you’ve got to stay out there and just battle. You get out of it sometimes, and sometimes you don’t, so it might boost your confidence a little bit. That’s what I take away from that league.”

How do you feel about following in Matt Harvey’s footsteps?
“That’s the thing. He set the bar so high because he just took off once he came up here. Some people expected it. Some people didn’t. I’m just going to go out there and do the best that I can. People can take it how they want it. Hopefully I’ll do well and just be up there with him.”

Why did you choose uniform No. 45?
“Just growing up, I think I’ve always had 12 or 21 or something like that. And then Adam [Wheeler], the one who played baseball, my brother, he always had 45 for some reason. I don’t even know why he had it, but I just grew up liking it. I took it over when I was about 12 or 13.

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Zack Wheeler preparing for call-up

From Twitter:

 

 

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Mets PR guru flies across country to prep Zack Wheeler

Here’s the latest evidence that Mets top prospect Zack Wheeler is nearing his big league debut: Mets vice president of media relations Jay Horwitz flew across the country on the team’s off day Monday to meet Wheeler face to face in Fresno, Calif.

The Daily News first reported Horwitz’s five-flight, 6,000-mile journey, which included a middle seat in coach and a 30-minute meeting with Wheeler lasting barely more than 24 hours all told. His mission: to assure Wheeler in person that everything will be taken care of once he arrives in New York, which could happen as soon as next weekend.

Once the trip became public Friday morning, Horwitz tweeted about it:

You may recall that the Mets were also cautious with Matt Harvey when he first came up last summer, shielding him from interview requests in the days between his first few starts. It was not until Harvey proved adept beyond his years with the media that the team loosened his shackles.

Wheeler’s personality is quite different than Harvey’s. He is quieter and more laid-back, so how that plays in New York City remains to be seen.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets draft high school first baseman Dominic Smith

With the 11th overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, the Mets selected first baseman Dominic Smith, a left-handed power hitter who grew up not far from Darryl Strawberry’s old neighborhood south of Los Angeles.

Strawberry, coincidentally, was one of the Mets’ Draft reps in Secaucus, N.J. Here’s a photo of the two together at MLB Network Studios, courtesy of the Mets:

domsmith

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Who should come out of the rotation when Zack Wheeler arrives?

No one seems to want to come out of the rotation, with Dillon Gee and Jeremy Hefner both pitching well of late. Obviously Matt Harvey and Jon Niese are here to stay, and the Mets have four million reasons to keep Shaun Marcum in the rotation as well.

What would you do?

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Mets 10, Nationals 1: Three Up, Three Down

Well that was unexpected.

Three Up:
1. RHP Dillon Gee:  Another nice job by Gee, who kept pace with Jeremy Hefner in the competition to keep his rotation spot. When Zack Wheeler comes up, the Mets will have quite an interesting decision on their hands.

2. OF Marlon Byrd: Byrd may or may not be the word. Whatever it is, he just continues to hit, bashing two more home runs in the blowout.

3. C Anthony Recker: How about some love for the backup catcher? Not only does Recker seem to have established a groove with Gee as his batterymate, but he also rapped out two hits and drove in three runs.

Three Down:
1. SS Omar Quintanilla: Every Mets starter recorded at least one hit, so tonight’s downs go to those who only finished with one. Consider this also some belated punishment for his string of errors at shortstop.

2. OF Lucas Duda: Nope, this one isn’t fair either. But that’s the nature of the game; Duda lands on this list not for his offensive-sparking double, but for the three strikeouts that followed.

3. INF Justin Turner: Turner was the only Mets hitter to appear in the game and not record a hit. Of course, he was the only Mets hitter to receive only one at-bat. But Turner has actually been slumping at the plate for weeks now.

Three Up, Three Down Season Standings:
+6
RHP Matt Harvey, OF Marlon Byrd
+5
C John Buck, 2B Daniel Murphy
+4
RHP Jeremy Hefner
+3
SS Omar Quintanilla, INF Justin Turner

+2
RHP Greg Burke, LHP Jon Niese, OF Mike Baxter
+1
LHP Robert Carson, RHP LaTroy Hawkins, OF Juan Lagares, 3B David Wright, LHP Scott Rice, OF Lucas Duda
-1
RHP Brandon Lyon, RHP Bobby Parnell, C Anthony Recker
-2
LHP Aaron Laffey, RHP Scott Atchison, OF Jordany Valdespin, RHP Shaun Marcum, RHP Collin McHugh
-3
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis, RHP Dillon Gee

-4
LHP Josh Edgin, SS Ruben Tejada, OF Rick Ankiel
-13
1B Ike Davis

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Nationals 3, Mets 2: Three Up, Three Down

Jeremy Hefner just may be the unluckiest man in baseball.

Three Up:
1. RHP Jeremy Hefner:  With Zack Wheeler waiting in the wings, Hefner just keeps on thriving. He holds a 3.60 ERA over his last eight starts, the first uninterrupted stretch of his career spent as a starting pitcher.

2. SS Omar Quintanilla: Have the Mets found their new leadoff man? Quintanilla’s history suggests that his hot streak is a fluke, but the Mets will certainly ride it for as long as it lasts.

3. RHP Brandon Lyon: On a night when the closer did not do his job, the setup man certainly did. These guys get even less love than closers when they do their job, but the same amount of blame when they don’t.

Three Down:
1. 2B Daniel Murphy: Is the league’s streakiest hitter (or one of them, at least) heading into a cold snap? Just like that, he’s 0-for-13, dragging his average down 20 points or so.

2. OF Rick Ankiel: Terry Collins bumped Ankiel down to eighth in the lineup, but he might soon consider leaving him off the card altogether. If not for Adam LaRoche’s error, Ankiel would have finished 0-for-3 with a popup, a strikeout and a double play.

3. RHP Bobby Parnell: Parnell can’t be perfect every time. But his propensity for allowing leadoff doubles, even when he does convert the save, is somewhat troubling.

Three Up, Three Down Season Standings:
+6
RHP Matt Harvey
+5
C John Buck, OF Marlon Byrd, 2B Daniel Murphy
+4
INF Justin Turner,
RHP Jeremy Hefner, SS Omar Quintanilla
+2
RHP Greg Burke, LHP Jon Niese, OF Mike Baxter, OF Lucas Duda
+1
LHP Robert Carson, RHP LaTroy Hawkins, OF Juan Lagares, 3B David Wright, LHP Scott Rice
-1
RHP Brandon Lyon, RHP Bobby Parnell
-2
LHP Aaron Laffey, RHP Scott Atchison, OF Jordany Valdespin, C Anthony Recker, RHP Shaun Marcum, RHP Collin McHugh
-3
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis

-4
LHP Josh Edgin, SS Ruben Tejada, RHP Dillon Gee, OF Rick Ankiel
-13
1B Ike Davis

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Nice night for baseball at Nationals Park

natsparkmets

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Marlins 11, Mets 6: Three Up, Three Down

David Wright said “there’s probably a lot of teams” who think they can beat the Mets right now. The Marlins are certainly one of them.

Three Up:
1. SS Omar Quintanilla:  His three-hit night included a home run, but also another fielding error. Still, the Mets have been starved for this type of offensive production atop their order.

2. 1B Ike Davis: Is he finally on track? It’s way too soon to tell, but Ike’s home run to center field was a monster, and his multi-hit day was his second in the past two weeks.

3. OF Marlon Byrd: A nice day for Byrd, who walked twice, drove in a run and, unlike both of his fellow outfield starters, did not do anything embarrassing in the outfield.

Three Down:
1. RHP Matt Harvey: Not a good start from Harvey, who gave up a season-high 10 hits in a season-low five innings. Not everything was his fault — the defense played poorly behind him. But Harvey certainly struggled.

2. LHP Scott Rice: The Mets were in the game until Rice walked the bases loaded in the sixth, then gave up Marcel Ozuna’s back-breaking double. He probably shouldn’t have still been on the mound at that point, but still.

3. OF Rick Ankiel: Breaking forward (instead of back) on Ozuna’s double in the first inning was unacceptable, costing Harvey big time. What Ankiel has done at the plate is not entirely unsurprising, but his defensive struggles have been a bit of a shock.

Three Up, Three Down Season Standings:
+6
2B Daniel Murphy, RHP Matt Harvey
+5
C John Buck, OF Marlon Byrd
+4
INF Justin Turner

+3
RHP Jeremy Hefner, SS Omar Quintanilla

+2
RHP Greg Burke, LHP Jon Niese, OF Mike Baxter, OF Lucas Duda
+1
LHP Robert Carson, RHP LaTroy Hawkins, OF Juan Lagares, 3B David Wright, LHP Scott Rice
-2
LHP Aaron Laffey, RHP Scott Atchison, OF Jordany Valdespin, C Anthony Recker, RHP Brandon Lyon, RHP Shaun Marcum, RHP Collin McHugh
-3
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF Rick Ankiel

-4
LHP Josh Edgin, SS Ruben Tejada, RHP Dillon Gee
-13
1B Ike Davis

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Marlins 8, Mets 1: Three Up, Three Down

Today’s Three Up should consider themselves lucky.

Three Up:
1. SS Omar Quintanilla:  Two singles accounted for two-thirds of the Mets’ offensive output against Marlins starter Jose Fernandez. They were also his third and fourth consecutive hits since snapping an 0-for-34 in the Majors.

2. SS Justin Turner: Pinch-hitting for Quintanilla, he knocked in the only run of the game with a double. That was enough for an “Up” on this day, despite Turner’s subsequent error in the field.

3. OF Lucas Duda: Duda got a hit. Most of his teammates did not. Good for Duda.

Three Down:
1. 3B David Wright: The captain’s 0-for-4 sunk him into an 0-for-13 funk at the plate. Accountability for a team-wide lack of offense must begin here.

2. C John Buck: Another 0-for-4 for Buck, this time with three swinging strikeouts. He probably should not be hitting fifth at this point, but problem is, the Mets have no obvious candidate to move up in the order.

3. RHP Collin McHugh: I have a hard time giving a “Down” to a pitcher making a spot start on short notice, but McHugh was facing the worst offensive team in baseball. The Mets were hoping for better than four runs in four-plus innings.

Three Up, Three Down Season Standings:
+7
RHP Matt Harvey
+6
2B Daniel Murphy
+5
C John Buck
+4
OF Marlon Byrd, INF Justin Turner

+3
RHP Jeremy Hefner

+2
RHP Greg Burke, LHP Jon Niese, LHP Scott Rice, OF Mike Baxter, SS Omar Quintanilla, OF Lucas Duda
+1
LHP Robert Carson, RHP LaTroy Hawkins, OF Juan Lagares, 3B David Wright
-2
LHP Aaron Laffey, RHP Scott Atchison, OF Jordany Valdespin, C Anthony Recker, RHP Brandon Lyon, RHP Shaun Marcum, OF Rick Ankiel, RHP Collin McHugh
-3
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis

-4
LHP Josh Edgin, SS Ruben Tejada, RHP Dillon Gee
-14
1B Ike Davis

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

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