February 2014

Dispatches from Port St. Lucie, 2/28

Grapefruit League Game 1 is in the books. The Mets lost, 5-4, after leading most of the afternoon.

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What we learned: Rookie fifth-starter candidates Rafael Montero (above, on mound) and Jacob deGrom may be legit. Those two combined for four scoreless innings against the Nationals with six strikeouts in their spring debuts. … Jon Niese may have set himself up for his recent bout with shoulder soreness due to focusing too fully on strengthening his rotator cuff — and not the surrounding muscles — this winter.

What we wrote:

Around the league:

They said it:

“What you saw were guys throwing strikes with good stuff. That plays anytime.” –Manager Terry Collins on Montero and deGrom

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo

Dispatches from Port St. Lucie, 2/27

Breathe a sigh of relief, Mets fans. Jon Niese is okay, and Grapefruit League games start tomorrow.

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What we learned: Niese’s MRI came back clean, meaning there is no structural damage in his shoulder. Expect him to miss his next start, but probably not much more.

What we wrote:

Around the league:

They said it:

“Usually when our guys have gone up to get looked at, they’ve come back with bad news. I’m happy I’ve given people some peace of mind.” –Niese

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo

The best Instagrams of Mets photo day

Some of the best of Instagrams of Wednesday’s Mets’ photo day, from the accounts of those who were there:

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Dispatches from Port St. Lucie, 2/26

A touch of bad news out of Mets camp today, when the team sent Jon Niese home for an MRI on his left shoulder. The image below is from photo day, an annual rite of spring:

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What we learned: Niese is spending the night in New York, where he will undergo an MRI on his sore left shoulder Friday. The Mets’ presumptive Opening Day starter, Niese told MLB.com that he does “not foresee it being serious at all.”

What we wrote:

Around the league:

They said it:

“A stud.” –Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud, when asked to describe Noah Syndergaard in a single word

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo

Meet Mets’ Thor, god of thunder

If you haven’t yet, check out my profile on Mets prospect Noah Syndergaard. Here are a couple of expanded anecdotes that didn’t make it into the story:

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Mets vice president of amateur scouting Paul DePodesta:

“I think Roy Smith put it really, really well when we were in talks with Toronto to trade for him a year and a half ago. Roy said you just don’t see that many guys that size at that age with that stuff with that command. That combination of four things, you just don’t see very often. You might see two of the four, you might see three of the four, but to see all four things in that package is really rare. That’s not typical. And it’s different even in some of the guys, the big, strong right-handed power pitchers who have come out of there didn’t have all of those elements.”

Syndergaard’s high school coach, David Walden:

“I really don’t know what happened, but about halfway through his senior year he jumped from probably 82 miles per hour to 87, 88, and we don’t know why he finally started cutting it loose or why he was holding it back or what. We don’t know. And then it started getting warm and we got into the playoffs, and all of the sudden he starts throwing the ball hitting 92, 93, stuff like that and just blowing hitters away. He really wasn’t even throwing a breaking pitch or a changeup, he was just blowing hitters away with his fastball. And then we got through another round or two and all of the sudden he started hitting 95, and all of the sudden there are scouts all over the place. The last pitch that he threw in high school was in the seventh inning, he had just given up a no-hitter on a flare with two outs in the fourth round of the playoffs here in Texas, and his last pitch was 97. … It was just crazy around here until the draft with all these people. He went from a guy who really didn’t even know if he wanted to pitch to, in the course of four months, a first-round pick.”

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo

Dispatches from Port St. Lucie, 2/25

One more day of workouts before Thursday’s intrasquad game and Friday’s Grapefruit League opener.

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What we learned: David Wright, Curtis Granderson and Travis d’Arnaud will all participate in next month’s Las Vegas exhibitions against the Cubs, but Daniel Murphy will not. … Terry Collins still expects to be ejected next year, probably more than once.

What we wrote:

Around the league:

They said it:

“That would be like the ultimate jinx.” –Fifth-starter candidate John Lannan on apartment hunting in New York City before making the team

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo

Which young pitcher do you most want to see in the Opening Day bullpen?

For simplicity’s sake, I included all pitchers in Mets camp age 25 or younger who primarily served as relievers last season:


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Dispatches from Port St. Lucie, 2/24

It was only a matter of time before something contentious happened at Mets camp. The spring’s first squabble came in the form of a New York Post report revealing that Ike Davis played through injury for much of last summer. Davis responded with venom.

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What we learned: Davis played through injury from mid-May until one if his right oblique muscles “popped,” in his words, in late August. What we don’t know is how much the pain played into his season-long struggles; Davis says not at all. … Unlike fellow veterans David Wright and Daniel Murphy, Curtis Granderson will not shy away from early Grapefruit League action, preferring to see as much live pitching as possible after injuries severely shortened his 2013 season. … The new rule thought to ban home plate collisions will actually only prohibit the most egregious ones, in which runners or catchers are clearly and actively seeking contact.

What we wrote:

Around the league:

They said it:

“I sucked last year because I sucked. It’s not because I had an injury. You always have injuries and now it just looks bad. I didn’t want the article to come out and it did, so whatever.” –Davis on the New York Post report

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo

Full transcript: Ike shoots back at NY Post

Ike Davis had the following response to a New York Post report suggesting he played hurt most of last season:

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Were you hurt for all of last year?

“The bottom line where it says I played all year hurt is not right, because I told you [addressing Post reporter Mike Puma directly] for the first two months it didn’t hurt. Actually you knew that because I said that. There you go. So that’s a lie.”

But you said you were hurt.

“I said not all year. That’s exactly what I said was ‘Not all year,’ because we had talked about it for 20 minutes. I said it’s basically a pointless story to talk about because it doesn’t matter.

“If you hurt something, your oblique, and it pops, there’s a time in between. It doesn’t automatically go, ‘Oh, I’m healthy and then I pop.’ There’s a time where it hurts. But you can’t be like, ‘Oh, I feel a little something here.  It’s a little tight. It hurts a little bit.’ I can’t pull myself out of the game. But you made it look like it’s an excuse. It shouldn’t have been a story anyway, because that’s what we talked about before you wrote this, was we shouldn’t write about it because it doesn’t matter. But that was nowhere in the article. It’s just an overblown thing. Everyone has injuries and they get hurt, so it was pointless to write an article.

“I sucked last year because I sucked. It’s not because I had an injury. You always have injuries, and now it just looks bad. I didn’t want the article to come out and it did, so whatever.”

It wasn’t a reason for why you didn’t play well?

“No, not at all. Not at all. Nope. I never once made an excuse that my oblique hurt.”

You never told Sandy Alderson or Terry Collins?

“You can’t tell people stuff because you won’t play. You always hurt. We always hurt. You play 162 games in how many days? You hurt all the time. Unless you can’t physically actually go out and play, you can’t say anything. So that’s what we do, and we have injuries that last a little longer and they don’t. Sometimes they never pop. I wish it didn’t but it did. I even told you guys when we had a meeting last year, ‘It finally went out. I’ve been feeling it for a little bit and it finally popped.’ What am I going to do, not play? And so it doesn’t make sense.”

Looking back, did it affect you at all?

“No. I already said that, it didn’t have an effect. So now I’m going to be very sharp. I’m not going to say anything. We’re not going to have one-on-one [interviews]. We’re going to have group meetings so it’s not blown out of proportion.”

Did you address is with Terry or Sandy today?

“No. It wasn’t even supposed to be an article. I told [Puma] as soon as he came up, I go, ‘No, we’re not talking about that, it’s pointless.’ That’s exactly what I said. Then it’s back page of the Post, whatever. All right, thanks guys.”

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo

Dispatches from Port St. Lucie, 2/23

The games start soon, beginning with an intrasquad matchup on Thursday. Buckle in.

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What we learned: The Mets will hold back some of their regular starting pitchers early in the Grapefruit League season, in an attempt to see as many arms as possible. Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee in particular will not pitch the first time through the rotation.

What we wrote:

Around the league:

They said it:

“What is comfort? Is it money? I’ve made an ungodly amount of money. That’s the only way to describe it. We’re in a really cool spot with a child coming on the way, that’s exciting. That would be the way I would describe where we’re at — a very exciting time. But comfort comes and it doesn’t really last.” –Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo

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