Mets morning briefing 5.28.12

Courtesy of New Era

The Mets, along with the rest of baseball, will wear special caps on Memorial Day. This time, the team colors will remain and camouflage will fill the logo.

R.A. Dickey, Tim Byrdak and Frank Francisco combined on the shutout as the Mets upped their scoreless streak to 26 innings and moved six games over .500 for the first time since July 18, 2010 with a 2-0 win Sunday against San Diego. The Padres, who were shut out by Johan Santana the previous day, did not score after Jesus Guzman's first-inning sacrifice fly against Dillon Gee on Friday.

The scoreless streak is the longest by a Mets staff since going 35 innings from May 25-28, 2010 -- which came primarily during three straight shutouts of the Phillies. The franchise record, if you want to get greedy, is 42 straight scoreless innings from Sept. 23-28, 1969.

After consecutively facing the Pirates and Padres, the Mets now see a major upgrade in competition. The next eight series all come against teams with winning records: Philadelphia (25-24), St. Louis (26-22), at Washington (29-18), at the Yankees (26-21), at Tampa Bay (29-19), Cincinnati (27-20), Baltimore (29-19) and the Yankees again, at Citi Field. Then, finally, comes a reprieve at Wrigley Field against the Cubs, who currently own a 15-32 record, tied with Minnesota for worst in the majors.

Cole Hamels (7-1, 2.17 ERA), who is tied with Dickey, St. Louis' Lance Lynn and Los Angeles' Chris Capuano for the National League lead in victories, opposes Jon Niese (3-2, 4.29) in Monday's 1:10 p.m. series opener against Philadelphia.

The Mets, along with the rest of Major League Baseball, will wear special Memorial Day caps today. In a departure from the previous four seasons, though, the caps will remain in Mets colors. Instead, the logo will be filled with camouflage.

Monday's news reports:

• The Mets' revival of Banner Day, which had been shelved after 1996, appeared a success. Olivia Nuzzo and Stephanie Giangrande, cousins from Brooklyn, were declared winners by a celebrity panel of Dwight Gooden, Rusty Staub, Howie Rose and Evan Roberts. They won a trip to next year's spring training for capturing Mike Piazza's homer in the first game in New York after 9/11. More than 300 banners were entered. Gooden then threw out the ceremonial first pitch and shook hands with Dickey before departing the field. View a photo gallery in the Times. Read more in Newsday and the Daily News.

• Dickey fanned 10 Padres on Sunday, becoming the first Met with consecutive double-digit strikeout games since Pedro Martinez from May 9-14, 2006. Umpire Tim Tschida, who has called major league games since 1986, including 13 of retired knuckleballer Tim Wakefield's appearances, told Terry Collins he had never seen a baseball move like Dickey's did Sunday, according to the manager. Byrdak, now on pace for 95 appearances, had another major contribution -- stranding a pair of runners inherited from Dickey in the eighth by retiring lefty hitters Alexi Amarista and Will Venable. Francisco had a 1-2-3 ninth and has now retired 12 straight batters. Lefty batters are now hitting .103 (3-for-29) against Byrdak this season. The players sang "Happy Birthday" to Collins in the clubhouse postgame. He turned 63 Sunday. Read game recaps in the Times, Record, Star-Ledger, Newsday, Post and Daily News.

Courtesy of New York Mets

Cousins Olivia Nuzzo and Stephanie Giangrande show off the winning entry in the revival of Banner Day.

David Wright was hitless for a third straight game as his average, which had climbed to .415 in Pittsburgh last week, slipped to .382. Columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News, by the way, thinks it's going to take 10 years to get Wright signed -- although Ryan Zimmerman's six-year, $100 million extension on top of the $26 million that remained for two seasons when the Nats third baseman agreed to the new deal seems like the actual baseline. Madden also asserts Wright will need to be convinced the Mets are building a sustained winner. Writes Madden:

That’s what’s going to take -- a 10-year, Derek Jeter/Joey Votto-like contract. And, if Wright does decide go into free agency after the 2013 season, the Mets can probably kiss him goodbye. That’s why this season is so imperative for them.

Wright, in case you missed it, is bending on his one-time claim to hold off on marriage and children until after his playing career. Wright told Steve Serby in the Post in a Sunday Q&A: "You see the guys bring their kids into the clubhouse and kinda hang out with them in the clubhouse and stuff, and that’s really cool. So, hopefully that’s in the cards for me."

As for Wright's 0-for-10 "slump," read more in the Post, Record and Daily News.

Bob Ojeda writes about the pain he went through as a major league pitcher in the Times. In a lengthy piece, Ojeda writes this about this medical intervention leading up to his start in Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS:

The team doctor was in Washington. I was in New York. The game was in Houston. So the team trainer called and told me to meet him at Shea Stadium. I went into the trainer's room, and he gave me two needles and two vials: one with a numbing agent and the other with cortisone. I stuffed them in my leather jacket, grabbed a cab over to La Guardia Airport and hopped the shuttle down to Washington. I met the doctor at the hotel, where he was attending a conference. He probed my elbow because, for the best result, he needed to hit the spot where it hurt most. ...

On Oct. 15, I went to the bullpen and started to throw. It was not going well. It felt like I had two sandbags stuffed in my elbow. I was in trouble, I remember thinking, but I figured I had to try. I gave up three runs in the first inning. Davey Johnson, the manager, stayed with me. A big deal. For him. For me. For my elbow, from which the sand had started, grain by grain, to run out. I went five innings. We won in 16. My left arm and I were going to the World Series.

Chris Young will move to Triple-A Buffalo for his fourth minor league appearance since May 16, 2011 surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his right shoulder. Young is due to pitch on an extra day of rest Thursday, following starts by Matt Harvey on Tuesday and Jenrry Mejia on Wednesday and preceding a start by Jeurys Familia on Friday. Young's start will come in a 10:35 a.m. game against Columbus (Indians) and will be televised by MLB Network.

In three starts with Class A St. Lucie, Young went 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA. He allowed 17 hits and two walks while striking out seven in 17 innings. He did require nine days before his final Florida State League start, because of "dead arm" as well as the birth of a child, but apparently feels well enough to move to the higher level. Young has an opt-out in his contract on Friday. He has another opt-out on July 1 if he is not in the majors by then and wishes to declare free agency. Chris Schwinden, Miguel Batista and Jeremy Hefner have combined to go 1-2 with a 6.23 ERA in six starts in the rotation slot initially owned by Mike Pelfrey.

• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News writes about the upcoming schedule:

Beating up on inferior opponents is a vital first step for any team that wants to be a contender. The Mets just won five of seven against the Pirates and the Padres to raise their record to 27-21, the first time they’ve been six games over .500 since July of 2010. But now we’re about to find out if they can take the next crucial step in the evolution, as the schedule dares the Mets to prove they’re for real over the next few weeks.

Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post also addresses the games ahead.

Ruben Tejada's return from a right quadriceps strain is not going as smoothly as desired. Tejada experienced tenderness trying to run the bases in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Instead of a rehab game today, Tejada may be limited to grounders. Tejada's replacement at shortstop, Ronny Cedeno, sat Sunday with the same left calf issue -- officially labeled a cramp -- that forced him to depart Saturday's game. Justin Turner started at shortstop in the series finale against the Padres.

Josh Thole (concussion) should play for the first time in an extended spring training game Monday. Batista (oblique/lower-back strain) is due for a rehab start Tuesday. Pedro Beato, on a rehab assignment after opening the season on the DL with a shoulder issue, made his first appearance for Triple-A Buffalo on Sunday after moving from St. Lucie. He retired two batters and issued a walk. Read more injury coverage in the Star-Ledger and Daily News.

Incidentally, when Thole returns, the Mets likely will have a Mike Nickeas or Rob Johnson issue to sort out in terms of whom to demote. Johnson does have a minor league option remaining though, so he -- like Nickeas -- does not need to be exposed to waivers if the Mets decide to go that route and retain Nickeas at the major league level as Thole's complement.

• Right-hander Kevin Mulvey, who re-signed with the organization in March after being released by the Arizona Diamondbacks, has retired. Mulvey, 27, had compiled a 5.59 ERA in 13 relief appearances with Double-A Binghamton. The Mets' top pick in the 2006 draft (second round/62nd overall) and a favorite of former pitching coach Rick Peterson, Mulvey was packaged with Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber and Deolis Guerra in the trade that returned Santana on Feb. 2, 2008.

• Left-hander Mark Cohoon limited New Hampshire to one run in seven innings and Robert Carson tossed two scoreless innings in his return from the majors as Binghamton won, 6-1. Read Sunday's full minor league recap here.

Jordany Valdespin went 2-for-4 Sunday for Triple-A Buffalo while again manning second base. Mike Harrington in the Buffalo News notes Bisons manager Wally Backman and other staffers met with Valdespin last week, dissatisfied with his concentration level. "He's got all the tools in the world and it's our job to develop him and get talent out of him," Backman told Harrington after Saturday's game. "We had a good heart-to-heart talk with the kid. This kid has the ability to be an all-star in the major leagues if he puts it all together and that's what we're trying to do. The last three games he's played like that kind of player."

• Francisco discusses his turnaround in the Post.

Gary, Keith and Ron are making their annual pilgrimage to call a game from the Pepsi Porch on Wednesday, according to the Post's Rumble. SNY, by the way, revamped its scoreboard on the upper left corner of the TV screen this weekend to make it more readable. Now, the numeral displaying the inning has been moved to the right and made smaller. It formerly was between the scores of the Mets and their opponents and of comparable font size, confusing viewers.

TRIVIA: Hamels has 10 career losses against the Mets, in 14 decisions. Which player -- active or retired -- has the most career losses against the Amazin's? (Hint: He also had Phillies ties.)

Sunday's answer: Like Jack Egbert, Larry Bearnarth also born in Staten Island and pitched for the Mets, from 1963-66.