Morning briefing: Crunch time for roster


FIRST PITCH: Prospect Domingo Tapia starts for the Mets as they make a trip to Viera to face left-hander Gio Gonzalez and the Washington Nationals today at 1:05 p.m.

Tapia, a 21-year-old right-hander, went 6-5 with a 3.98 ERA in 20 appearances (19 starts) with Class A Savannah last season.

Thursday’s news reports:

Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Justin Turner suffered a left calf strain Wednesday.

Justin Turner suffered a strained left calf and now may end up on the disabled list to open the season. The Mets had been debating carrying Kirk Nieuwenhuis over Omar Quintanilla on the Opening Day roster. Now, both may fit if Turner opens the season inactive. Read more in Newsday and the Times.

• The Mets plan to have Shaun Marcum (neck) start Tuesday in a minor league or simulated game, then presumably have him activated from the DL to start the sixth game of the regular season, April 7 against the Miami Marlins. That would alleviate the need to carry Aaron Laffey and open a 40-man roster spot -- and presumably allow the Mets to squeeze relievers Greg Burke and Jeurys Familia on the Opening Day roster. Read more in the Post, Newsday and Record.

Daniel Murphy should play in his first Grapefruit League game today, signaling he will be ready to break camp with the club. David Wright, similarly optimistic, will stick to a minor league game. Read more in the Record, Daily News, Star-Ledger and MLB.com.

• See ESPNNewYork.com’s updated roster projection here.

Jeremy Hefner survived Tuesday’s sharp comebacker that struck him in the right elbow and is slated for Game 4 of the regular season. Read more in the Times.

Jonathon Niese tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings in a 74-pitch effort in his final work before facing the San Diego Padres on Opening Day. Marlon Byrd homered and had a two-run double and the Mets beat the Astros, 6-2, Wednesday. Read more in Newsday and MLB.com.

• Niese opposes Edinson Volquez on Monday at Citi Field. Matt Harvey and Dillon Gee also face the San Diego Padres. Check the projected pitching matchups for the first two series here. Read more in the Daily News and Star-Ledger.

Courtesy of New York Mets

Reliever Elvin Ramirez has been traded to the Angels.

• The Mets traded Elvin Ramirez to the Angels for cash to clear a 40-man roster spot. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.

• Forbes values the Mets at $811 million. The Mets annually dispute the assessment. Read more in the Post and Newsday.

Bobby Parnell struck out the side in closing out Wednesday’s Grapefruit win. “I felt pretty strongly about him last year, going into the season, but still worried about him being the guy we wanted late in the game,” pitching coach Dan Warthen told Mike Puma in the Post. “But I think that maturity showed up toward the end of last year and hopefully it will carry on for the rest of his career.”

Pedro Feliciano, who accepted a minor league assignment, said he will pitch with Class A St. Lucie, not Triple-A Las Vegas. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Sports Illustrated has a lengthy piece this week remembering former Mets top prospect Brian Cole, who died in an automobile accident departing spring training in 2001. The Herald-Tribune has a summary.

• Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post describes the Mets as undermanned but keeping the faith. Writes Kernan:

These Mets, of course, had better be ready because there is no help coming over the hill. The Yankees run into major injuries and the next thing you know, they’re dropping $14 million on trying to salvage Vernon Wells’ career. The move may not work, but the Yankees are throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks.

That is not happening here. This is it as far as talent coming through the Mets’ clubhouse door. And make no mistake: It is going to be a supreme challenge.

“It’s going to be a long year for the Mets,’’ a scout who has followed the team all spring told The Post last night. “I like Matt Harvey and I like Jon Niese, but the other guys in the rotation are all the same kind of guys. They don’t have enough offense and they will have trouble catching the ball.’’

• Jared Diamond in the Journal is unimpressed with the Mets’ options for a second lefty in the bullpen to complement Josh Edgin.

From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report writes the club should back off readying Wright for Opening Day. … At Mets Police, in 2002 Mets fans were greeted by long post-9/11 security lines and Mo Vaughn.

BIRTHDAYS: Brad Emaus, the Opening Day second baseman two seasons ago, turns 27. … Generation K member Paul Wilson turns 40.


YOU’RE UP: Do you think Shaun Marcum will be ready to start Game 6 of the season?