Mets morning briefing 4.13.12

David Wright visited a hand specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery on Thursday, who reiterated that Wright could test his broken pinkie swinging Friday and play if pain tolerance allows. Wright suffered the fracture Monday, diving back into first base on a pickoff throw from Washington's Edwin Jackson.

If Wright remains unavailable, Ronny Cedeno could start at third base in tonight's series opener in Philadelphia, which features R.A. Dickey against Cliff Lee. If Terry Collins thought Wright would miss any length of time -- which the manager now does not -- Daniel Murphy would shift to third base. Read the series preview here.

Friday's news reports:

Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger retells the story of why rookie center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis picked playing baseball at Azusa Pacific University rather than football at the University of Colorado. On a recruiting trip to Boulder, Nieuwenhuis spotted an intimidatingly sized player working out. It turned out to be the kicker, Mason Crosby, now of the Green Bay Packers. “I was like, ‘If this guy’s the kicker, what am I getting myself into?’" Nieuwenhuis told McCullough. Nieuwenhuis also was recruited by Colorado State and Air Force for football.

Tyler Kepner in the Times notes the Phillies, despite a 3-3 record, are having difficulty scoring runs. In fact, minus Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, the Phillies have scored 18 runs through six games -- with seven of those coming in one game. Yet Philadelphia is stocked at pitching with Roy Halladay, Lee and Cole Hamels atop its rotation, and able to compensate. “Runs are down, they continue to be down, and it’s going to get worse, probably, as far as offense is concerned, because pitching is the most important part of the game," Phillies GM Ruben Amaro tells Kepner about baseball's current landscape."I believe in it.” Adds Kepner:

As the Phillies’ general manager, Amaro has built teams that increasingly reflect that belief. As the team has collected aces, the offense has slipped by comparison. The 2009 Phillies scored the most runs in the National League and allowed the sixth fewest. The 2010 team was fairly balanced, and by 2011, the rankings had virtually flipped. The Phillies ranked only seventh in runs scored but allowed the fewest runs in the league. When their pitchers were not at their sharpest in the playoffs against St. Louis, a feeble offense doomed them to defeat. Now the disparity seems to be growing.

• Wright is under the Mets' control through 2013, including a team option. And Andy Martino in the Daily News notes the Mets are holding off conducting extension talks now. The reason: It makes sense to see if Wright will be the player who can produce like he was in the season's first four games, or whether as a player who turns 30 in December he is at a stage where his production may irreversibly slip. Read more on Wright's pinkie/status in Newsday, the Record, Post and Times.

Collin McHugh limited Portland to one run in 6 2/3 innings and Jefry Marte had three RBIs in Binghamton's 5-1 win. Read the full minor league report here.

• After Justin Turner shoved a shaving-cream pie in Murphy's face following Monday's walk-off win, rather than the preferred whipped-cream pie, Brian Costa in the Journal investigated the origins of the pie-to-the-face tradition. Writes Costa:

There are newspaper references to players being doused with shaving cream after wins as early as the 1960s. But pieing is a more recent phenomenon. Ron Darling, who pitched for the Mets from 1983 to 1991, said it was unheard of when he played. "If somebody had thrown a pie in my face, I would've hit them," Darling said. Dave Racaniello, the Mets' longtime bullpen catcher, recalled former closer John Franco lobbing a few pies in the early 2000s, but only occasionally.

Ken Belson in the Times profiles Ralph Kiner, who turns 90 on Oct. 27. Writes Belson:

Ralph Kiner’s 50-year career as a Mets announcer started with a bang in 1962. During his first postgame show, Kiner’s guest was Casey Stengel, the omnipresent manager of the fledgling Mets who could fill an entire show with tales tall and small. They sat in a makeshift studio beneath the stands at the Polo Grounds. The interview went smoothly until Kiner thanked Stengel, who got up to leave even though they were still on air. Stengel also forgot to take off the microphone around his neck and, in his haste, pulled down the entire set as he exited.

Belson also recalled Kiner charmingly once saying on air: “It’s Father’s Day today at Shea, so to all you fathers out there, happy birthday.” Gary Cohen told Belson: “He is as comfortable in his skin as anyone I know. While he never played for the Mets or another New York team, he embodies the history of the Mets.”

TRIVIA: Cole Hamels lost consecutive 1-0 starts to the Mets in August 2010. Which starting pitchers did he face in those two games?

Thursday's answer: A.J. Burnett is the current major leaguer who had the most career starts against the Mets before finally picking up a win. Burnett was 0-5 with six no-decisions in his first 11 starts against the Mets before finally notching a victory as a Marlin on Sept. 7, 2004.