The Mets begin playing games shortly after noon today, with the first of as many as three straight days of intrasquad games. Dillon Gee, Jeurys Familia, Daniel Herrera, Tim Byrdak, Matt Harvey, Miguel Batista, Jeremy Hefner and Frank Francisco are scheduled to pitch. (For the pitching assignments for the next week, click here.)
Friday's news reports:
• Johan Santana tossed 40 pitches over two simulated innings while throwing batting practice to Mets hitters Thursday. It was his first time facing batters since the fall instructional league in Fort Myers, Fla. Santana will advance to a Grapefruit League game Tuesday against the St. Louis Cardinals at Digital Domain Park. Pitching coach Dan Warthen said Santana ideally will throw 25 to 35 pitches over two innings. Terry Collins reiterated the real test will be whether the southpaw can make starts on a regular five-day schedule throughout spring training. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and Daily News.
• Justin Turner worked out at first base for the first time this spring training Thursday. He is the primary backup to Ike Davis. Collins said even if there were a 15-day DL trip for Davis during the season, he would not juggle fielders and use either Lucas Duda or Daniel Murphy at first base. In fact, Collins suggested he would not move Duda from right field under virtually any circumstance, since it will be difficult enough for him to get acclimated to the outfield position without shuffling around. So if Davis were to miss an extended period, Collins said, Murphy likely would move over from second to first base. The Mets, in that scenario, have enough depth to cover second base. Read more in Newsday and the Post.
• Wright and teammates approve of the new playoff format that includes an extra National League wild-card team. The two wild-card teams meet for a one-game playoff, with the winner advancing to face the division winner with the best record. "It's about five years too late," Wright dryly said. In addition to increasing the number of playoff participants, it also places a premium on winning the division. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Post.
• Brian Costa in the Journal talks to Mets about the part-time jobs they held before they established themselves as major leaguers. Unless you're a high-round draft pick who gets a major signing bonus, your minor league salary is generally not enough to sustain you through the offseason. Byrdak, during an interuption in his major league career, worked the graveyard shift at a Target. "When I applied for the job, my boss asked me to write down my previous employers, so I wrote Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals," Byrdak told Costa. "He goes, 'Are you serious with this?' I said, 'Yeah, I don't have any money coming in. I got bills to pay.'" Even Wright had a real job once. Writes Costa:
David Wright, the Mets' first-round pick in 2001, signed for $960,000. But his parents wouldn't let him touch the money until he was older. So the following winter, he worked as a substitute teacher at his former high school in Virginia. "If they needed me, they'd call me in the morning and I'd come in," Wright said. "Mostly it was like if a gym teacher was out. They would never put me in a real class."
• The organization may have more conservative plans, but the 2010 first-round pick Harvey's goal is to reach the big leagues soon -- if not Opening Day, shortly after that. "The biggest goal is to get to the big leagues, whether it's when I want to, in April, or hopefully a month or two after that," Harvey told columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post. "That's my goal."
• The Mets underwent blood testing for HGH this week as part of MLB's upgraded drug prevention program, and Josh Thole -- the team's 2011 union rep, before passing the torch to Byrdak -- approves. "It's not an issue at all for me, whether they do it in spring training or during the season," Thole told Peter Botte in the Daily News about drug testing. "The one thing that's important for us as a unit is we should all want an even playing field. I can't speak for everybody, but I can speak for myself and I can tell you this: Most guys are just saying whenever we do [the testing], we do it, but let's just be sure there's no gray area. During the steroid years, it was definitely becoming an unfair playing field. For the guys that actually spend all the time in the gym and really bust their butt and work hard, there should be a little reward at the end of not being overtaken by guys sticking a needle in themselves."
• Andrew Keh in the Times catches up with Long Islander Steve Matz, the Mets' top pick in the 2009 draft, who had a slow recovery from May 18, 2010 Tommy John surgery. Matz was working his way back last season when he was shut down, although he and team officials say the integrity of the surgically repaired ligament was not an issue. Matz had microfiber tears in the area from ramping up activity. He arrived early to Port St. Lucie and should pitch this season for the first time in actual minor league ganes.
TRIVIA: Which pitchers have won the Cy Young while playing for the Mets?
(Thursday's answer: Wright ranked third on the Mets in steals last season with 13, trailing only the departed Jose Reyes' 39 and Angel Pagan's 32.)