David Wright needs one RBI to surpass Darryl Strawberry and take over sole possession of the franchise record. Baring a day off, he’ll get his first chance to move into the top spot on Friday night, when the Mets begin a four-game series with the Giants at Citi Field. It will be Jon Niese (2-0, 2.13 ERA) against Barry Zito (1-0, 1.13). The Mets were off Thursday.
Read more on Niese -- “The Stopper” -- in the Record.
Friday’s news reports:
• The Post reports the Mets could use Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the lineup against Zito, because lefties are hitting .294 off the southpaw.
• Why has Wright been able to get off to such a hot start? According to the Post, it’s his offseason hitting sessions with Nick Boothe, the longtime baseball coach at Virginia Wesleyan College.
“He’s like a son,” Boothe said [Thursday]. “I looked at David when he came last winter and the first thing I said is, ‘What are you doing?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’ Here’s a big league guy saying ‘I don’t know.’ That tells you how far he had gotten away from things.”
• Newsday writes about how the Mets are using the vast amounts of data afforded to them by technology in order to better position their defense.
• The Star Ledger’s Andy McCullough has a nice feature on closer Frank Francisco.
One amusing anecdote:
On Opening Day, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson sat with a pair of WFAN radio hosts, Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts, for an occasionally contentious interview. Early on, Roberts harangued Alderson for bequeathing the closer’s job to Frank Francisco.
When Alderson explained Francisco could lose the role if he was ineffective, Roberts harkened back to 2004.
“But you’re not afraid of Francisco throwing a chair at you if you take that closer’s job away from him?” Roberts asked.
Alderson played along. “No, that could happen,” he said. “But hopefully it’s a lawn chair.”
• The Mets will give away a Tom Seaver bobblehead on Sunday to the first 25,000 fans attending the 1:10 p.m. game.
• Daily News baseball columnist Bill Madden writes that the Mets can’t afford to let Wright get away:
Nobody blamed Mets ownership for not wanting to go for six years and more than $100 million to retain Jose Reyes, just as nobody blamed them for wanting to be sure that the back issues that sidelined Wright for a third of last season weren’t something chronic before engaging him on a new contract. In these first two weeks, however, Wright has demonstrated just how vitally important he is to the Mets. Without him, they are a starless and seriously flawed team. With him, performing as he is, the rest of the lineup the Ike Davises, Dudas, Tejadas and even the Jason Bays has better hitters, and there is hope that things don’t necessarily have to be as bleak at Citi Field this summer as everyone has predicted.
Whether he realizes it or not, Wright, who has said consistently he doesn’t want to leave New York, is starting to put pressure on Mets ownership to get negotiations going to enssure that he does indeed stay. For, no matter what happens this season, the Mets can’t afford to allow even the perception of him following Reyes out the door which would be the case if they announce at some point this season they are merely picking up his $16 million option for 2013.
No matter what, Wright is in a strong position . There is a dearth of All-Star-caliber third basemen in baseball, and three of the wealthiest teams — the Phillies, Cubs and Dodgers — will be looking to invest there.
It all adds up to why the Mets cannot dare to allow him to get into a free agency situation after 2013.
TRIVA: Curtis Granderson hit three home runs for the Yankees on Thursday night. Name the Mets players who have accomplished the rare feat.
Thursday’s answer: Angel Pagan is the current major leaguer who was a member of the 2001 Cyclones.