PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Lucas Duda's representatives are discussing a long-term contract extension with the New York Mets, the New York Post reported.


Duda is earning $4.2 million this season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining, so he is not eligible for free agency until after the 2017 season.

Teams frequently discuss longer-term deals at this stage of a player's career. The deals typically cover one or two free-agency years.

Duda described any talks as "preliminary stuff" to the Post. Agent Dan Horwits told the newspaper talks would be tabled if nothing is concluded by Opening Day.

Duda hit .253 with 30 homers and 92 RBIs last season.

Mets 10, Nationals 2: Jacob deGrom dominates

March, 28, 2015
Mar 28
5:15
PM ET

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Curtis Granderson and David Wright consecutively homered against Stephen Strasburg, and Jacob deGrom had the longest outing by a New York Mets starter during spring training in a 10-2 win against the Washington Nationals on Saturday at Tradition Field.

Granderson’s three-run shot in the third inning opened the scoring.

[+] EnlargeJacob deGrom
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsJacob deGrom needed only 81 pitches to complete his seven innings of work on Saturday.

Wright, who followed with an opposite-field blast, has four spring training homers. He finished last season with a career-high 189 at-bat homerless drought.

Johnny Monell and Lucas Duda took Tanner Roark deep in the seventh. Monell also has four homers, trailing only Michael Cuddyer (five) among Mets players.

The Mets (15-11) have produced a Grapefruit League-best 35 homers.

Manager Terry Collins said he likes the team’s offensive approach, but he cautioned to make too much out of the long ball total.

“We can’t get too caught up down here,” Collins said. “The winds are blowing, the weather has been warm, and the ball carries. We’ve got some power. I’m not saying we don’t have any power. But you’ve got to be careful, because we aren’t playing at Citi Field -- especially in April, when the wind is blowing in and it’s cold [in Queens].”

DeGrom allowed one run on four hits and two walks while striking out four in seven innings. He required only 81 pitches.

“That’s the most stretched out I’ve been all spring, and I felt really good out there today,” deGrom said.

DeGrom took a scoreless effort into the sixth inning, when Bryce Harper delivered a solo homer that sliced Washington’s deficit to 4-1.

“I struggled today a little bit,” said deGrom, who sliced his Grapefruit League ERA to 2.45. “I don’t know if I lost concentration or something with those two four-pitch walks. That’s the main thing today, but the spring has been going pretty smooth. I’m still trying to work on things. I was getting under my changeup today. And that’s what I fell behind Bryce with before he hit the home run.”

DeGrom pitches against the Nationals on April 8, opposite Jordan Zimmermann in Game 2 of the regular season. Strasburg opposes Matt Harvey in the series finale the following day.

DeGrom said he did not mind facing Washington so close to the regular season. The Mets had avoided pitching Opening Day starter Bartolo Colon against the Nats and instead used him in a minor league game this week. Collins said it is more beneficial to have Colon dodge the Nats, since the 41-year-old right-hander is not a power pitcher, and familiarity with him is more likely to help Washington batters than with seeing deGrom.

Pen trouble: Collins summoned Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin to face Harper in the eighth. Gilmartin, who had a string of solid performances recently to seemingly become the internal favorite for a lefty relief role, walked Harper on five pitches.

The Mets may go outside the organization for lefty relief help. They have been scouting other teams’ lefty relievers -- particularly from the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Sinking feeling: Jeurys Familia’s struggles continued. He allowed a ninth-inning run as his Grapefruit League ERA rose to 6.75.

Collins said the issue relates to a loss of sink on Familia’s two-seam fastball, and not anything regarding velocity. The Mets have now abandoned trying to get Familia to throw four-seam fastballs up in the zone to allow the reliever to concentrate on his signature sinker.

“The only concern we have is the sinker is not there right now,” Collins said. “… I think it’s a mechanical thing more than anything.”

What’s next: Dillon Gee opposes St. Louis Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET in Jupiter.

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The New York Mets sent Scott Rice to minor league camp after Saturday's 10-2 win against the Washington Nationals, reducing the lefty relief candidates in camp to Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin and Dario Alvarez.

The Mets have been in desperate need of lefty relief help since Josh Edgin underwent Tommy John surgery last week. Team personnel are actively scouting the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers, and got a firsthand look at potentially available Nats southpaw Jerry Blevins on Saturday at Tradition Field.

Rice, 33, had a 9.64 ERA in seven Grapefruit League relief appearances.

He re-signed with the Mets on a minor league deal in December. He had been outrighted off the 40-man roster and became a free agent early in the offseason.

Rice underwent season-ending elbow surgery last July 23 to remove a bone spur and move a nerve.

In 2013, he had a storybook season. He debuted in the majors at 31 years, 192 days old -- becoming the second-oldest U.S.-born player ever to debut with the Mets, trailing only Shawn Gilbert (32 years, 82 days in 1997). He ultimately made 73 relief appearances that season.

Rice's reassignment leaves 36 players in major league camp. That includes Zack Wheeler and Edgin, both of whom are out for the season.

Daniel Murphy bats in minor league game

March, 28, 2015
Mar 28
1:55
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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy, who might open the season on the disabled list with a pulled right hamstring, ramped up his rehab on Saturday.

Murphy took five at-bats in a minor league intrasquad game. In his first plate appearances, against right-handers Matt Koch and Kevin McGowan, Murphy produced opposite-field hits.

He still took things gingerly, though. Each time after making contact, Murphy jogged to first base and then proceeded off the field.

GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins both sounded pessimistic Friday that Murphy will be ready for Opening Day, while not ruling it out.

Murphy has not appeared in a Grapefruit League game since March 19, when he injured the hamstring.

Eric Campbell officially becomes a catcher

March, 28, 2015
Mar 28
1:48
PM ET

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Utility player Eric Campbell can now officially place "catching experience" on his résumé.

Campbell caught an inning in a minor league intrasquad game Saturday. It marked his first experience as a catcher in a game at any level.

[+] EnlargeEric Campbell
ESPN.com/Adam RubinEric Campbell caught an inning of a minor league intrasquad game on Saturday. It was the first time he's been a catcher on any level.

It's highly unlikely the 27-year-old Campbell will ever appear in a major league game behind the plate. Still, the Mets have been preparing him as a third catcher in case an in-game emergency arises. In fact, Campbell worked out exclusively with the catchers before position players reported to camp last month.

Campbell had an uneventful inning catching right-hander Matt Koch, who throws a fastball, slider and changeup. Campbell was untested during the frame. He caught every pitch without issue. Koch topped out at 93 mph.

Campbell did fail to break down the line and back up first base during an inning-ending double play, which was noted to him by bench coach/catching instructor Bob Geren.

Still, as Campbell headed off the field after the one inning behind the plate, Triple-A manager Wally Backman shouted to him: "You looked like a pro out there, buddy!"

Geren and Campbell then drove back to the main stadium in a golf cart. As they whisked by, Geren pretended to be a public-address announcer and said: "Now catching, 'Soup' Campbell.'"

Campbell appeared at six positions last season with the Mets: first base, second base, third base, shortstop, left field and right field. Back in 2013, he pitched an inning with Triple-A Las Vegas and served up a grand slam.

Mets' Vic Black feels fine after mound work

March, 28, 2015
Mar 28
12:06
PM ET

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- New York Mets pitcher Vic Black threw 24 pitches off a mound Saturday and expressed hope the team will let him begin the season on the Opening Day roster. Still, days are dwindling for Black to be ready.

Black, who was dealing with an impingement and weakness in his throwing shoulder, said he plans to return to the mound Monday for another bullpen session.

He hopes the Mets will let him throw in a Grapefruit League game on Wednesday and then in Texas on Friday and Saturday, and be active on April 6 in Washington. He understands a more conservative track might be more likely, though. That could include a backdated disabled-list stint and missing the season-opening road trip.

Black hasn't appeared in a game since March 9.

"I'm good with what they end up deciding to do, but the joy here is that my arm feels great, which means I can help the team out when the time comes," Black said.

Said manager Terry Collins: "He'd have to make huge strides fast. I don't see him facing hitters until Wednesday. So how many innings can you get him in four games?"

Nats line up Strasburg to face Harvey

March, 28, 2015
Mar 28
11:52
AM ET
[+] EnlargeStephen Strasburg
AP Photo/Luis M. AlvarezStephen Strasburg will start the Nationals' third game this season, squaring off against Mets ace Matt Harvey.

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Stephen Strasburg will start for the Washington Nationals in the third game of the season on April 9 in a likely showdown with New York Mets ace Matt Harvey.

Nationals manager Matt Williams made the announcement Saturday. Barring any setbacks from a twisted ankle, Strasburg will face Harvey, who was bypassed as his team's opening day starter in favor of Bartolo Colon.

Max Scherzer, the 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner, will start on opening day for the Nationals.

He'll be followed in the rotation by Jordan Zimmermann, Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Doug Fister.


(Read full post)


PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Although the New York Mets are providing cautious return-date estimates involving Bobby Parnell, including labeling May 1 as a potential target, the ex-closer is expected to be activated from a season-opening disabled-list stint within a couple of weeks of Opening Day.

Parnell, who started throwing in games this week, is again due to pitch on the minor league side on Sunday.

"Make sure you get your tickets," Parnell joked.

He underwent Tommy John surgery last April 8 and was slowed earlier in camp by a left hamstring strain.

Mets' Vic Black set to resume mound work

March, 28, 2015
Mar 28
9:21
AM ET

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- New York Mets pitcher Vic Black is set to resume throwing off a mound on Saturday. He last appeared in a Grapefruit League game March 9. Afterward, Black underwent an MRI and officially was diagnosed with shoulder "weakness."

Black's availability for the Opening Day bullpen is questionable.

He is scheduled to throw 20 pitches off a mound Saturday morning.

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The New York Mets trimmed the number of players in major league camp to 37 on Saturday morning by sending utility player Alex Castellanos and right-handed reliever Chasen Bradford to minor league camp.

Castellanos, 28, signed as a minor league free agent with the Mets in November. He has appeared in 24 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He hit .222 with one homer and four RBIs in 36 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Bradford, 25, had a 4.15 ERA in nine Grapefruit League appearances. He likely is ticketed for Triple-A Las Vegas' rotation to open the season.

Saturday's Mets-Nationals lineups

March, 28, 2015
Mar 28
8:30
AM ET

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Here are the lineups as the New York Mets face the Washington Nationals on Saturday at 1:10 p.m. ET at Tradition Field (WPIX).

Mets

Juan Lagares, CF

Curtis Granderson, RF

David Wright, 3B

Lucas Duda, 1B

Michael Cuddyer, LF

Wilmer Flores, SS

Travis d'Arnaud, C

Ruben Tejada, 2B

Jacob deGrom, RHP

Nationals

Yunel Escobar, 2B

Bryce Harper, RF

Wilson Ramos, C

Ian Stewart, 3B

Tyler Moore, LF

Clint Robinson, 1B

Danny Espinosa, SS

Tony Gwynn Jr., CF

Stephen Strasburg, RHP

Morning Briefing: Stephen Strasburg visits

March, 28, 2015
Mar 28
7:11
AM ET

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. --

First pitch: Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg ’s twisted left ankle apparently has healed. So the New York Mets will get a preview of Strasburg on Saturday when he is due to visit Tradition Field for a 1:10 p.m. ET game opposite reigning NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom (WPIX).

DeGrom will face the Nationals in Game 2 of the regular season, on April 8 in Washington opposite Jordan Zimmermann. Strasburg faces Matt Harvey the following day, in the series finale.

Bartolo Colon opposes Max Scherzer on Opening Day.

DeGrom has a 0.80 WHIP in 15 Grapefruit League innings (10 hits and two walks in 15 innings). He has struck out 17. DeGrom has so effectively moved his fastball around the strike zone to keep hitters off-balance that a scout on Friday said it reminded him of Greg Maddux’s use of the changeup during the pitcher’s Hall of Fame career.

Saturday's news reports:

  • Matt Harvey increased his pitch count to 80 and limited the St. Louis Cardinals to one run in 4 1/3 innings, but the Mets’ ninth-inning rally fell short in a 5-4 loss. Jenrry Mejia surrendered a three-run homer in the eighth to Rafael Ortega. Manager Terry Collins used a lineup with the pitcher batting eighth, although it did not prove beneficial on Day 1. Harvey has a 1.45 Grapefruit League ERA and has issued only one walk all spring training. Read more on Harvey in the Times, Post, Daily News, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.
  • Daniel Murphy looks increasingly likely to open the season on the disabled list with a pulled right hamstring. General manager Sandy Alderson reiterated that Matt Reynolds and Danny Muno would be the considerations to be the starting second baseman if Murphy opened the season on the DL. The GM again omitted Ruben Tejada. Murphy will only play in minor league games if he is able to return to action next week, to preserve the ability to backdate any DL stint into spring training by as many as nine days.
  • If Reynolds or Muno starts on Opening Day, he would become the Mets’ 11th second baseman in 15 openers. The others: Edgardo Alfonzo (2001), Roberto Alomar (’02, ’03), Ricky Gutierrez (’04), Kazuo Matsui (’05), Anderson Hernandez (’06), Jose Valentin (’07), Luis Castillo (’08, ’09, ’10), Brad Emaus (’11), Murphy (’12, ’13) and Eric Young Jr. (’14). Murphy missed last season’s opener for the birth of his first child.

Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post outlines why Murphy is expected to be elsewhere next season, or even by the July 31 trade deadline. Murphy is earning $8 million in 2015. He is eligible for free agency next winter. Writes Sherman:

"Daniel Murphy can hit, but not for power or with the ability to draw walks. Murphy can play a lot of positions, but none of them particularly well. Murphy can steal a base, but might run into the most outs on the bases of any Met. Murphy is not old, but he crosses the threshold into his 30s on April Fools’ Day. Murphy is not expensive, but he is the fifth-highest-paid player on the nickel-squeezing Mets and the meter is running for more. Murphy was an All-Star last year, but mainly because every team has to be represented and David Wright was struggling and Matt Harvey was out."

Read more about Murphy’s potential DL stint in the Post, Daily News, Journal, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.

  • Like one that was erected on Interstate 95 in Florida, a billboard imploring Mets owners to sell went up near Citi Field on Friday. Read more at NJ.com.
  • A group of automotive businesses adjacent to Citi Field has agreed to drop a lawsuit and vacate the property, which had been claimed under eminent domain in order to build a mall, Joe Anuta reports at Crain’s New York. Writes Antu:
    "Under the agreement dated March 19, all litigation was dropped and a $5.8 million escrow fund was created to aid in the businesses’ move to the Bronx. The businesses, known as the Sunrise Cooperative, have agreed to vacate Willets Point by June 1, though many have already left. In return, the city will pay a total of $4.8 million into an escrow fund, while the development team of the Related Cos. and Sterling Equities will chip in $960,000. The cooperative, a collection of nearly 50 businesses that have operated along the unpaved streets in a part of Corona, will also be required to contribute $143,000 into the fund."

  • Jon Heyman at CBSSports.com reviews “Baseball Maverick,” the book about Alderson having “revived” the Mets. Writes Heyman:
    "According to the book, Alderson is maybe just a tad too competitive. He wants to win too badly. Is that even a flaw? If that's Alderson's only imperfection, then maybe the book's accomplished and facile author should want to ask how Alderson has come to guide as GM nine straight teams to losing records -- his last five with the A's and first four with the Mets -- without going nuts, throwing fits, or even quitting (in fact, he signed up for a two-year extension after last year). I come away with no belief in a special competitiveness that is noticeably above anyone else in such a high-pressure job."

  • Mike Vorkunov at NJ.com does a Q&A with Travis d’Arnaud.
  • The Mets are 34-19 in organization history on Opening Day, and that’s with losing every opener in the ’60s -- eight straight at the outset of the franchise. The Times outlines the history.
  • Anthony DiComo at MLB.com speaks with Jeurys Familia about diversifying the reliever’s repertoire to include pitching more up in the zone.
  • From the bloggers: Faith and Fear can't believe it feels nostalgic for 2007. … Mets Report offers its take on batting the pitcher eighth.

 

Birthdays: Emaus, the first Opening Day second baseman of the Alderson era, turns 29. ... Generation K member Paul Wilson is 42.

Tweet of the day:


You're up: Who should be the Opening Day second baseman if Murphy is unavailable: Reynolds, Muno, Tejada or Tim Teufel?

JUPITER, Fla. -- The New York Mets produced three ninth-inning runs against St. Louis Cardinals reliever Jordan Walden. However, the Amazin’s left the tying run at second base in a 5-4 loss at Roger Dean Stadium on Friday when Alex Castellanos flied out on a shot into the right-center alley.

Closer Jenrry Mejia, pitching for the second straight day, allowed a three-run homer to Rafael Ortega in the eighth as St. Louis took a four-run lead into the final frame. Ortega earlier homered against Carlos Torres.

Matt Harvey limited St. Louis to one run on three hits and struck out five in 4 1/3 innings. Cardinals starter John Lackey limited the Mets (14-11) to one run on six hits in seven innings.

Eighth wonder: Manager Terry Collins batted Harvey eighth to test out that configuration. Day 1 with that alignment did not prove beneficial.

Harvey came up as the leadoff batter in the third and grounded out. No. 9 batter Danny Muno then singled. Curtis Granderson, placed atop the order, lined out to right field and Muno was doubled off first base. Otherwise, David Wright would have batted with two outs and Muno on first base.

The next time through the order, Harvey came up with two outs and a runner on second base after Eric Campbell’s double. Harvey produced an inning-ending groundout.

Looking better: Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin passed a third straight audition for a left-handed relief role. Gilmartin entered to face lefty-hitting Scott Moore with two outs in the seventh and struck him out looking. If the Mets stick internally for a left-handed reliever, Gilmartin might be earning the edge over Scott Rice.

What’s next: The Mets host the Washington Nationals at 1:10 p.m. ET Saturday (WPIX). Jacob deGrom opposes right-hander Stephen Strasburg.

Mets now labeling Daniel Murphy DL candidate

March, 27, 2015
Mar 27
5:09
PM ET

JUPITER, Fla. -- After expressing optimism only a few days earlier, New York Mets officials now sound like Daniel Murphy is more likely to open the season on the disabled list.

Murphy pulled his right hamstring eight days ago.

"Look, any hamstring is typically a minimum of a couple of weeks," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "For him to come back sooner than roughly Opening Day would be a little surprising. But given the way he felt -- and the fact that it was a very mild strain -- it's still a possibility he will be ready. I don't think it's anything we can predict right now."

Alderson indicated that Murphy will not appear in Grapefruit League action next week if he is able to re-enter games then. If Murphy is confined to minor league games, the Mets can backdate his 15-day DL stint nine days into spring training. That would mean Murphy could miss as few as the first six days of the regular season and be eligible to be activated for the April 12 road-trip finale in Atlanta.

Murphy resumed running on Thursday.

"He's running out of time," manager Terry Collins said. "... We don't have a lot of time. I'm going to talk to Dan tomorrow. We don't have a lot of time to get him ready. I got word of what he did today, and we certainly have to speed it up a little bit. So I'm getting a little concerned he's not going to have enough time."

Asked precisely what Murphy did on Friday back at the Mets' complex in Port St. Lucie, Collins said: "He didn't do enough."

Although Collins has mentioned Ruben Tejada as a starting second-base candidate, Alderson reiterated Friday that the considerations are Matt Reynolds and Danny Muno. Although not set in stone, a team official recently painted Reynolds as the more likely choice if Murphy landed on the DL and a starting opportunity existed. Muno would be the favorite if a bench role would be available, since the Mets want Reynolds regularly playing somewhere. Reynolds otherwise is ticketed for Triple-A Las Vegas to be the starting shortstop.

Reynolds is hitting .378 with two homers and six RBIs in Grapefruit League play. Muno is hitting .390 with one homer and five RBIs.

Matt Harvey continues dominance on birthday

March, 27, 2015
Mar 27
2:57
PM ET

JUPITER, Fla. -- Matt Harvey celebrated his 26th birthday with another dominant performance.

Harvey allowed a first-inning run on Peter Bourjos' leadoff double and Matt Holliday's sacrifice fly to lose a 9 2/3-inning scoreless streak. The New York Mets ace then blanked the St. Louis Cardinals for the remainder of his outing.

Harvey limited St. Louis to one run on three hits, striking out five in 4 1/3 innings in his second-to-last tuneup for the regular season. His Grapefruit League ERA is 1.45 after the 80-pitch effort on Friday at Roger Dean Stadium. His fastball ranged between 95 and 98 mph.

[+] EnlargeMatt Harvey
AP Photo/John BazemoreMatt Harvey had another strong outing Friday against the Cardinals.

"I think the command was good at first," Harvey said. "Really, at the end, I was just trying to work on stuff and throw everything. So I was happy about it. We got our 80 pitches in. That was what we tried to accomplish."

Harvey departed after surrendering a one-out double to Scott Moore in the fifth. Carlos Torres entered and stranded Moore in scoring position.

"He is obviously healthy," manager Terry Collins said about Harvey. "I'm not concerned, but there is a process involved, and that is now to work on his endurance -- to get the pitch count up to where when you start the season that 90 to 95 pitches is easy."

Harvey did not issue any walks. He has allowed only one walk in 18 2/3 innings during spring training.

That control has pleased him. He noted that the team charts the percentage of strikes thrown. Harvey estimated he is in the 75-to-80-percent range for spring training -- "which I think at any point you're excited," he added.

Harvey's last Grapefruit League start will come Thursday in Jupiter, again against the Cardinals, in the Mets' final game in Florida. The Mets are aiming for Harvey to increase his pitch count to 90 that day.

"It's pretty nice knowing that there's one more start and then we can start playing some regular-season games, which we're all here getting prepared for," said Harvey, who is due to face the Washington Nationals on April 9 in his first regular-season game since undergoing Tommy John surgery. "... I feel like I'm definitely ready for the start of the year."

Harvey said he planned to spend his birthday on Friday night at home with his parents, watching college basketball.

On his return from surgery, Harvey said it is not something he thinks about.

"Like I said all along, I try to put that in the back of my mind, like it didn't even happen," Harvey said. "For me, coming out facing hitters, I feel just as normal as I ever have -- like I haven't skipped a beat.

"For me, that's exciting."

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Bartolo Colon
WINS ERA SO IP
15 4.09 151 202
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Murphy .289
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187