Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard started opposite each other in the Futures Game. Now, a day after Syndergaard wowed in an intrasquad game, Montero takes the mound for the Grapefruit League opener.PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.
FIRST PITCH: Rafael Montero will throw the first pitch of the Mets’ Grapefruit League schedule at 1:10 p.m. Friday, as the Amazin’s face the Washington Nationals (SNY/WOR).
Friday’s news reports:
• Jonathon Niese received favorable news after undergoing an MRI on Wednesday in New York. Terry Collins said Niese’s shoulder even looked better than at this point last year, before suffering an in-season rotator-cuff strain. Niese, who does have weakness in the scapula in the back of the shoulder, should resume throwing this weekend.
“Usually when our guys have gone up to get looked at, they’ve come back with bad news,” Niese told Marty Noble at MLB.com. “I’m happy I’ve given people some peace of mind. … Dr. [David] Altchek told me not to pitch, but I can throw for a few days and then get back to my normal routine. There’s just some weakness in the back. It’s nothing bad, nothing like last year when I had the MRI. ... I pretty much knew I was OK before I went up to New York, but it’s not a bad thing to make sure.”
• Noah Syndergaard struck out five and displayed a wicked curveball in two innings in Thursday’s intrasquad game. Columnist John Harper in the Daily News suggests the Mets avoid delaying Syndergaard’s promotion to June or beyond and strongly consider using him in the rotation early on. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Danny Muno went 2-for-3 with a homer, walk and steal and Carlos Torres tossed two perfect innings in the tune-up for the Grapefruit League opener. Dillon Gee allowed Muno’s homer, but felt positive about his health -- a far cry from a year ago. Check out the intrasquad recap and box here. Read more in the Post and Daily News.
• ESPN’s Keith Law believes Seattle Mariners infielder Nick Franklin can handle shortstop at the MLB level if the Mets ultimately acquire him. “I actually do,” Law responded during an online chat. “Maybe somewhere between 0 to -5 runs a year on defense, but with his bat, that will work -- and I won’t rule out the possibility that he can be more than that. He has unusually good instincts out there.”
• While the Arizona Diamondbacks want a top-tier catching prospect in a trade for one of their extra young shortstops, they are looking for a better talent than Mets farmhand Kevin Plawecki, Marc Carig writes in Newsday.
• Chris McShane at Amazin’ Avenue chats with T.J. Barra, the Mets’ manager of minor league operations and baseball information, who crunches the organization’s statistics.
On batters, Barra tells McShane: “… You get into their particular selectivity sets: What’s their swing rate? What’s their chase rate? How well do they do on the breaking ball? It’s starting to get to the point that you’re actually measuring the skill and what actually happened and things that players actually control. I think there’s going to be more continuity in what those numbers show in the course of the year than other metrics like batting average and on-base, which have a higher level of variance.”
• Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger compares Flores and his childhood idol, fellow Venezuelan Edgardo Alfonzo, who is in Mets camp as an instructor. “I like the way he plays because he likes to go the other way, which is what I used to do,” Fonzie tells Vorkunov about Flores. “I think he can have a pretty good career if he stays that way. He’s nice and quiet and he listens a lot. I don’t like to compare myself or compare someone to me, but that’s good when you listen, be quiet and do the job.”
• ESPN Deportes Radio Nueva York (1050 AM) will continue to broadcast Mets games in Spanish through 2016. The continuation of the relationship officially was announced Thursday.
• From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report writes that the organization should not get carried away by Syndergaard’s intrasquad performance.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
If David Wright wins this inane MLB contest thing, does that count toward the 90? #Mets
— Kristie Ackert (@AckertNYDN) February 27, 2014
YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets consider Noah Syndergaard opening the season in the big-league rotation? Or wait until mid-April to delay free agency by a year? Or wait until after the Super 2 deadline to delay arbitration eligibility?