Johan Santana faces the Miami Marlins today in the southpaw's second Grapefruit League appearance. Santana, who opposes Mark Buehrle, is looking to continue ramping up his activity after a two-inning, 29-pitch outing Tuesday against the St. Louis Cardinals. This time, Santana hopes to toss three innings and 45 to 50 pitches.
Jose Reyes will not make the trip after initial indications he was coming to Port St. Lucie. Reyes put the no-show onus on his team, and insisted to the Palm Beach Post it was not his decision. The Mets and Marlins meet in spring training twice more, on March 15 and 31 -- both times in Jupiter, home of Miami.
Also scheduled to pitch for the Mets today: Jeurys Familia, Chris Schwinden, Jon Rauch, Manny Acosta, Chuck James and Ramon Ramirez.
Sunday's news reports:
• David Wright will not make his first Grapefruit League appearance until at least next weekend, Terry Collins said. Wright has neither swung nor thrown a baseball as he rehabs from a left rib-cage issue. He is due to be examined in Port St. Lucie by team doctor Struan Coleman, after which he may be able to begin ramping up activity. Wright has been fielding groundballs. Read more in the Record, Post, Star-Ledger and Times.
• Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger profiles hitting coach Dave Hudgens' approach to hitting, which centers on on-base percentage. Dick Scott, who coordinates the minors, preaches the same thing in the team's farm system. In fact, during the fall instructional league, minor leaguers were required to take a strike. Writes McCullough:
In the first year of Alderson's reign, the Mets offense raised their collective on-base percentage 21 points from the year before and vaulted from 14th in the National League to second in that category. They went from the team third-most prone to swing at a pitch outside the strike zone to the second-least. Both Alderson and manager Terry Collins had lauded Hudgens for his influence.
• The Mets want to get Miguel Batista on the team as the final bullpen piece, sources have told ESPNNewYork.com, where he seemingly would join Bobby Parnell for the final two spots. So D.J. Carrasco, who has a $1.2 million contract, could get traded late in camp, Andy Martino reports in the Daily News. (Of course, the Mets could always eat Carrasco's contract if he underperforms in spring training and cannot be traded. They ate $18 million for Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo last spring training. But so far Carrasco has tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings in Grapefruit League play. Injuries always occur, which could get Batista and Carrasco on without complication if a reliever ultimately requires opening the season on the DL.) Parnell has a minor league option remaining, but it is hard to fathom him going from closer candidate in 2011 to the minors to open 2012. Parnell has validated his worthiness so far with two scoreless Grapefruit League innings, having allowed one hit and having faced the minimum number of batters. So that leaves Batista and Carrasco for one spot, barring an injury. Frank Francisco, Rauch, Ramirez, Tim Byrdak and Acosta are the virtual locks.
• Mike Kerwick in the Record speaks with Rick Ankiel about Adam Loewen following the same path from pitching to outfielder. Loewen's motivation was different -- Loewen had suffered a couple of stress fractures in his pitching elbow -- but he admired Ankiel's ability to make the conversion. They have never met, according to Kerwick. "I don't think I would have had as much confidence in the process if I didn't see him go through it first and be successful," Loewen told the newspaper. Said Ankiel: "I'm always paying attention or trying to look at those guys and rooting for them as much as I can to make it. It's a special thing and there's a lot to be proud of."
• Kevin Mulvey, the Mets' top pick in the 2006 draft (second round/62nd overall), has re-signed with the organization and will head directly to minor league camp. Mulvey was one of four prospects sent to the Minnesota Twins on Feb. 2, 2008 for Santana. He later was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Rauch, and was released early this spring training.
• R.A. Dickey allowed five runs in three innings Saturday as the Mets lost to the Washington Nationals, 8-2, at Space Coast Stadium. Chien-Ming Wang allowed both Mets runs. Afterward, the ex-Yankee briefly discussed taking two years to return to the majors after surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his pitching shoulder -- the same surgery Santana underwent on Sept. 14, 2010. Read more on the game and Wang's comments relative to Santana in the Post, Newsday and Times.
• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post offers high praise for Collins, comparing him favorably with Bobby Valentine and Buck Showalter, while suggesting the fruits of Collins' labor with an undermanned team may be setting up the next Mets manager for the glory. Writes Sherman:
Collins finished second three straight years with the Astros and passed the baton to Larry Dierker, who won four of the next five NL Central titles. Collins produced two more second-place finishes with the Angels before losing the clubhouse and his job in Year 3. Mike Scioscia followed the next season and the Angels were champs two years later. The first call Collins received after resigning was from Showalter. The message: "What's wrong with caring too much?" Showalter, like Collins, never rose above Triple-A as a player, and understands the Type-A managerial persona. Now it feels as if this version of Collins, a bit more patient, but still Type-A, is on a familiar path. He was hired as the right man to clean up a mess. But he knows someone else may be the beneficiary once more. That being compared to Valentine and Showalter -- high grades in my book -- may say something about shelf life in this job, too.
• David Lennon in Newsday notes that Dickey's autobiography, "Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball," goes on sale March 29. The movie "Knuckleball!" that features Dickey will be shown outdoors at Battery Park on April 21. The flick is part of the Tribeca Film Festival. Writes Lennon:
Movie roles, book deals. It's a good thing Dickey pitches only every fifth day. "I think what I'm anxious to see more than anything is just the end product," he said. "The culmination of putting in the time, dedicating yourself to an end and seeing what comes of that end. ... Any time you risk putting yourself out there in a very transparent way, you're opening yourself up for criticism or judgment, there's a little bit of anxiety there. But I knew when I did this that I had to be equipped to be able to deal with whatever that was going to be or I would never have done it. I would never have put my family or myself under a microscope in those two different places -- the documentary or the book -- unless I felt like I could handle it."
• The Star-Ledger has a Q&A with Andres Torres. Among the topics: Torres discusses dealing with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). "A doctor used to say it's like you have a pinball in your head," Torres told the newspaper. "You've got so many thoughts going that when you go out there, and sometimes things happen, and you don't focus. This game, it's just concentration. It's mental. Can you imagine, you go out there with all these distractions in your head, going everywhere? It's tough."
• Andrew Keh in the Times looks at promising hitter Reese Havens, the 22nd overall pick in the 2008 draft out of the University of South Carolina, who continues to have his pro career plagued by injuries. Havens has barely participated in camp because of back soreness. He has played only 213 games since being drafted in the same first round the Mets also selected Ike Davis. Of the top 22 picks in the '08 draft, only five others have yet to appear in the majors. Four of those were selected out of high school. "It has been extremely uncanny, the injuries he's had, because he was never hurt as a youngster," his father Brent Havens told Keh. "His high school and college careers were basically injury-free. And if he did have an injury, he always healed quickly."
TRIVIA: Who was the last player to homer in a 1-0 win by the Mets?
Saturday's answer: The eight players to have three-homer games in Mets history are Carlos Beltran (2011), Reyes (2006), Edgardo Alfonzo (1999), Gary Carter (1985), Darryl Strawberry (1985), Claudell Washington (1980), Dave Kingman (1976) and Jim Hickman (1965).