Morning briefing: Off to Minnesota

FIRST PITCH: The Mets spend an off-day today in frigid Minnesota before beginning a weekend interleague series against the Twins.

Thursday’s news reports:

Jeremy Hefner surrendered two homers in a five-run first and the Mets lost to the Phillies, 7-3, Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park. John Buck belted his fifth homer of the season and Lucas Duda went deep twice in the loss. Read game recaps in the Daily News, Star-Ledger, Times, Newsday, Record and MLB.com.

• Zack Wheeler, who has experienced recurring blisters underneath the nail of his middle finger throughout his professional career, was sent for an MRI by the organization. He is not due to miss any starts. Read more in the Post and Newsday.

• Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post reviews seven players who could be acquired by the Mets via trade to man the outfield: Carlos Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, Chase Headley, Giancarlo Stanton, Carl Crawford, Josh Willingham and Alfonso Soriano. Andy Martino in the Daily News wonders if the Mets could trade Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud for Stanton.

Shaun Marcum should pitch two innings in a simulated game as soon as Friday and toss five innings the start after that. He then could be activated from the DL. Read more in the Daily News.

• Jared Diamond in the Journal asked MLB senior VP Katy Feeney about MLB’s less-than-ideal schedule, which includes Northeast teams playing at home the first week of the season against teams from warmer climates.

"People tend to look at their team's schedule and don't realize it's a 30-team schedule, not a one-team schedule," Feeney told Diamond. "Everything you do has a ripple effect that affects everybody. This is not an easy flowing puzzle."

Writes Diamond:

Teams in Miami or San Diego don't want extra April home dates any more than Chicago or Boston do, Feeney said, both for competitive and financial reasons. For starters, extra home games at the beginning of the season mean more road games during the pennant race in September. Meanwhile, every team draws better crowds after schools let out for summer, no matter the climate.

Several years ago, Feeney said they attempted to write the schedule that way as an experiment, trying to prevent early games in the cold. It hit 70 degrees on the East Coast the first week of the season, and then snowed when all the Northeast and Midwest teams returned home.

"If you could tell me which week is going to be the week it snows in April, I'll gladly work around that," Feeney said.

Josh Satin produced his third homer of the season, but Las Vegas lost at Fresno, 6-3. Read the full minor league recap here.

• The Mets have used four leadoff hitters in the past five games. Read more in the Times.

From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report writes the Mets need help at the back end of their rotation. … Shannon from Mets Police wonders if the Mets will wear throwbacks on Tuesday when the Rockies wear theirs.

BIRTHDAYS: Bret Saberhagen and Wally Whitehurst turn 49. … Bobby M. Jones turns 41. … Trot Nixon turns 39.


YOU’RE UP: Which of the outfielders mentioned above would you most like the Mets to acquire? And would you part with Wheeler and/or d’Arnaud to make it happen?