After ninth-inning singles by Mike Baxter, Jordany Valdespin and Matt den Dekker loaded the bases with one out, Vinny Rottino walked against Braves reliever Jairo Asencio to force in a run. But Josh Thole struck out and Lucas Duda flied out and the Mets stranded three in a 7-5 loss to Atlanta on Tuesday afternoon at Digital Domain Park.
Chris Schwinden started in place of R.A. Dickey, who instead worked a minor league game to avoid facing his season-opening opponent. Schwinden, who likely is ticketed for Triple-A Buffalo’s rotation, allowed four runs on five hits and two walks while striking out a batter in 2 1/3 innings.
Michael Bourn homered against Schwinden. Freddie Freeman later had a pair of opposite-field homers, off relievers Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez, the Mets’ primary setup men for Frank Francisco.
• Lucas Duda had an opposite-field homer for the Mets, off right-hander Buddy Carlyle. Duda has four of the Mets’ 11 Grapefruit League homers. Duda also made a sliding catch.
“I think Lucas Duda is going to be a dynamic talent,” Terry Collins said. “Obviously he’s power supreme. I just believe that he’s getting very, very comfortable with the fact that he’s a major league player and that he belongs here and that he can hit here. He’s already shown us that he can hit lefties. He can hit righties. He can hit the ball out of the ballpark. And what you’re seeing with some of his home runs is why I think the reconfiguration of Citi Field is going to be a big difference for him.”
As for Duda’s right-field play, Collins added: “[Outfield coach] Tommy Goodwin has done a great job. He’s moved him in so that he gets a little bit better read of the ball off the bat. There are going to be balls that get over everybody’s heads. That was a great play he made on that one -- that sliding catch. That ball drops in for a number of guys. He’s spent so much time in right field, I think he’s comfortable there.”
• Bobby Parnell tossed another scoreless inning, and now has not given up a run in 8 1/3 Grapefruit League innings.
• Left-hander Josh Edgin’s control was off, but he nonetheless worked a scoreless frame. After striking out righty-hitting Tyler Pastornicky, Edgin walked the lefty-hitting Bourn before inducing a double-play grounder from righty-hitting Jack Wilson.
Despite Edgin now having tossed 7 2/3 scoreless Grapefruit League innings, during which he has limited opponents to two hits and three walks (one intentional) while striking out nine, Collins candidly portrayed Edgin as not a likelihood to make the Opening Day roster.
The manager cited two reasons: Edgin has not pitched above Class A, and that’s a big jump. Even more relevant, Tim Byrdak only may miss the regular season’s first four games. And once Edgin is added to the 40-man roster, he likely will occupy a spot for years to come, so there’s no rush. Collins expects Byrdak to return during the second series of the season, against Washington.
“That has a lot to do with it,” Collins admitted about Byrdak’s projected short absence and the 40-man roster spot working against Edgin. “I think Tim Byrdak is not going to be out very long. If he misses a fraction of the first week, I wouldn’t be surprised. There are a lot of dynamics involved in making the right decision -- not just for us as a team, but for an organization also.”
As for jumping from the Florida State League to majors, Collins said: “There are guys who have come out of A-ball and pitched in the big leagues the next year, but there are some other dynamics involved. Certainly it’s a factor. But we’ve been very impressed with what we’ve seen.”
Edgin has seemed unfazed by the leap in competition.
“I had no idea I was going to come over to big league camp,” he said. “If I execute my pitch, the better hitters, they’re going to hit that better pitch. But it’s just doing the same things you’ve been taught how to do. I’m not going to say there’s not a difference, but I don’t really change my approach as far as that. I’m sure the more I get to know these guys, the more I’ll pitch them differently. But I just do what I do.”
As for his control issues Tuesday, Edgin said: “I don’t know whether I was just amped up today. I think that’s it. I was up in the zone, wasn’t following through. I settled down a little bit. I wouldn’t say I settled down the whole way, but I did what I needed to do to get the outs.”
Because of DL backdating rules, as long as Byrdak does not appear in a Grapefruit League game during the final week of spring training, he only needs to sit out the first six days of the regular season. And because MLB’s season officially starts next Wednesday, the day before the Mets’ season opener, and because the Mets have an off-day next Friday, Byrdak would be eligible to return for Game No. 5.
Byrdak, who underwent March 13 surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee, plans to begin throwing off a mound Wednesday.
The Edgin assessment from Collins continues to leave Garrett Olson as the likely Opening Day left-hander in the bullpen. Daniel Herrera also remains in camp. Olson was charged with one run in 1 2/3 innings Tuesday.
New York Mets
• David Wright played five innings at third base, a day after logging four innings at the position in his first Grapefruit League action. Wright originally was not scripted to play Tuesday, but felt good enough as he returns from a strained abdominal muscle that he requested to be in the lineup.
Wright and Collins both expect the third baseman to skip Wednesday’s game, then play a night game Thursday and day game Friday.
Wright went 0-for-2 with a sacrifice fly.
“I’ve had five at-bats so far,” Wright said. “So I guess I feel OK, considering I’ve had five at-bats. It’s a process. I’m happy with where I’m at now, but there’s a lot of room for improvement.”
• The Mets continued to make advancements on the medical front.
Scott Hairston is scheduled to play his first Grapefruit League game Wednesday as he returns from a strained left oblique muscle. Jason Bay also said he expected to return Wednesday, after a two-day absence following being drilled in the right forearm on a fastball from Washington’s Stephen Strasburg. Andres Torres (strained left calf) swung lightly in a cage Tuesday and, Collins said, “I don’t think we’re very far” from the center fielder returning to games.
• Chris Young is scheduled to join the Mets in camp on Wednesday and will work out of the major league clubhouse. He has agreed to a minor league deal.
• Johan Santana’s final exhibition start likely will be against minor leaguers, rather than traveling to Jupiter to face division-opponent Miami on Saturday.