Why the mass cuts Thursday?

Some readers wondered why the Mets dispatched so many of their younger players to minor league camp Thursday.

There's a very good reason, aside from whittling the number of players to focus on those who eventually will make it to New York.

Assistant GM John Ricco explained that any player on the 40-man roster who is still in major league camp on March 20 cannot be optioned to the minors if they are injured and unable to perform -- regardless of when the injury actually occurred.

If the player does not heal by Opening Day, he has to go on the major league DL. That means major league service time and major league salary are accumulated.

So, say, Jeurys Familia or Kirk Nieuwenhuis were to be injured in a Grapefruit League game the final two weeks of camp, he would have to land on the major league DL. That's a major reason why, say, you will not see Familia or Nieuwenhuis in a Grapefruit League after March 19, but you very well could see non-40-man roster guys such as Matt Harvey or Matt den Dekker return as a borrowed player from the minor league side.