Mets morning briefing 6.23.12

Justin Turner delivered a two-run single and Ike Davis eked out a three-run homer that went off the glove of Nick Swisher and over the wall in the right-field corner in a five-run first inning. And Frank Francisco, fresh off labeling the Yankees "chickens," allowed a pair of batters to reach in the ninth but ultimately notched his 18th save in 21 chances as the Mets won, 6-4, Friday at soggy Citi Field. The output, off Andy Pettitte, marked the highest scoring first inning by the Mets at Citi Field since April 27, 2009 -- with a six-run outburst against the Marlins during the opening month of the stadium.

Saturday's news reports:

• Francisco said pregame that he did not think the chicken comment would become such a big deal. He said he has respect for the Yankees, but still noted that he meant they are chronic complainers. His teammates got a ton of mileage out of the stir Francisco created. They greeted Francisco's arrival in the clubhouse with "The Chicken Dance," and blasted in the clubhouse any song they could find with lyrics that included "chicken." Tim Byrdak, it turned out, even went to Chinatown and bought a live chicken, which he brought into the clubhouse. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Journal, Newsday and Times.

Francisco originally created the stir when he said in the Post: "I can't wait to strike out those chickens. I want to strike out the side against them. I've done it before." The tabloid then slapped Derek Jeter's head on a chicken body and made it the front cover on Friday, with the headline "CLUCK YOU!" Writes ESPNNewYork.com's Wally Matthews about Jeter's reaction:

"Why is my head on there?" a bemused Jeter said when shown the paper. Informed he was one of the three Yankees who Francisco struck out -- along with Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi -- as a member of the Texas Rangers, Jeter reacted with incredulity. "When did this happen?" he asked. "You're talking about five years ago, man. When was the last time we faced him? 2007? 2004?" Told the game in question took place on May 21, 2004, a 9-7 Rangers win in Arlington, Jeter shook his head. "I've got nothing for you. Really," he said. "The good story's over there. I have no comment. I really don't." The media wasn't going away that easily, of course, and Jeter was pressed to respond to Francisco's comments, which he later expanded to say that the Yankees are "chronic complainers" when it comes to balls and strikes calls. "I don't understand what that means," Jeter said. "I can't be insulted by something I don't understand."

Read more Yankees reaction in Newsday.

• Writes columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post on the chicken saga:

And thus ended another chapter in the wonderfully unpredictable and entirely unscripted world of Frank Frank, the Mets closer who not only enjoys turning the ninth innings of baseball games into something straight out of a Six Flags, he has now become the first participant in this 15-year Subway Series to dare to engage in a little bit of trash talk. Sure, you can ask: does calling someone a “chicken” actually qualify as trash talk? Do six-year-olds called chicken in sandboxes even get their feelings hurt over that kind of thing anymore? Do you even need to summon the sticks and stones to salve those wounds? And, yes: in the long history of intramural New York baseball, this hardly qualifies as a ripple. Hell, back in the day, back before there was even a name for it, the Giants and the Dodgers used to engage in epic spasms of trash talk.

• Writes columnist John Harper in the Daily News:

The question is whether it’s merely a sign that Francisco is fearless, perhaps even a little wacky, or a sign of something bigger, perhaps even mystical, transpiring with these Mets in 2012. Call out the big-brother Yankees, call them chickens and proceed to escape with a 6-4 victory , Francisco blowing away Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira with the tying runs on base? What’s next, a no-hitter? Oh, that’s right ...

• Here's columnist Tara Sullivan's take in the Record.

• Read game recaps in the Post, Times, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Daily News and Journal.

Ronny CedeƱo started at shortstop after being activated from the DL. The Mets demoted Elvin Ramirez to clear the roster spot and temporarily will operate with six relievers.

Jason Bay stopped by Citi Field on Friday, a week after suffering a concussion. Read more in the Post.

• Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented Johan Santana with a key to the city in recognition of the southpaw's June 1 no-hitter. Read more in the Record and Daily News.

R.A. Dickey is downplaying his hyped Sunday night matchup on ESPN with CC Sabathia. "You know, I'm really no more excited about it than it would be if I was starting against the Pirates or the Padres," Dickey said. "It's really for me another game on the schedule. I think that it helps me put it in perspective. I mean, it's one of three games that we have to play in this series against a good team. Every team in the big leagues is a good team, for that matter. I think it's been built up to some kind of crescendo, probably, but for me, I will attack it no differently." Read more in Newsday.

• Dickey obviously is a strong candidate to start for the NL in the July 10 All-Star Game in Kansas City. And Tony La Russa confirmed as much to Ken Rosenthal at Foxsports.com. La Russa said he doesn't decide such things until closer to the game, “but it’s definitely accurate that he’s getting as much consideration to start that game as any of the other guys.” San Francisco's Buster Posey currently leads St. Louis' Yadier Molina in fan balloting at catcher, and La Russa said he is confident either could handle Dickey's knuckleball.

Ruben Tejada went 2-for-4 with a walk, scored three times and played a third full game at shortstop for Triple-A Buffalo as his rehab assignment following a quadriceps injury continued. Meanwhile, reliever Ramon Ramirez, after two appearances with Class A St. Lucie, also joined the Bisons. He was lit up for three runs on four hits and a walk while recording only two outs.

• Read Friday's full minor league recap here.

Daniel Murphy sat for the third time in four games, but Terry Collins pledged to start him Saturday against right-hander Ivan Nova. Read more in Newsday.

• Davis went 1-for-4 with the three-run homer. His average still sits at .191, but he clearly is beyond his swoon. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Post.

Steve Serby in the Post did a Q&A with Josh Thole. The exchange includes:

Q: What is the key to catching his knuckleball?

A: Waiting till the last second, I think, as it is any knuckleball. That advice I got from Doug Mirabelli last year when we were in Colorado. He just said, “Catch the ball at the last possible second.” So, in my mind, I relax my glove, I don’t give him a target, I limp-wrist it, and I just track the ball with my eyes, and where I think it’s going to end up, I just go there.

Chris Young (1-1, 3.06 ERA) opposes Nova (9-2, 4.32) Saturday. Read more on Young's successful return from surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his pitching shoulder in the Post.

TRIVIA: Which other Mets have been presented a key to the City of New York besides Santana over the years?

Friday's answer: The last time Derek Jeter did not start against the Mets at shortstop should be an easy one. It came only two weeks ago, in the June 10 Subway Series finale in the Bronx, when Jeter served as DH and Jayson Nix started at shortstop.