Morning Briefing: The final countdown


FIRST PITCH: The Mets play their final 2014 exhibition game Saturday with a 1:05 p.m. first pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays at Olympic Stadium.

Daisuke Matsuzaka opposes Jays right-hander Brandon Morrow.

The 1994 Montreal Expos, which included Pedro Martinez, Cliff Floyd, Moises Alou, Marquis Grissom and Larry Walker, will be honored pregame. That team was 74-40 and poised to make a serious run at the World Series when a strike ended the season.

Saturday’s news reports:

Jenrry Mejia, who appeared poised to get at least one big-league start during the opening week of the season, departed Friday’s game at Olympic Stadium after taking a line drive off his right forearm in the fifth inning. Terry Collins said the forearm dramatically swelled. Mejia was off to the hospital for some late-night X-rays Friday.

Collins had planned for the combo of Mejia and Matsuzaka to serve as the fifth starter and hedge against Jonathon Niese not being ready to come off the DL on April 6 to face the Cincinnati Reds. Now, assuming Mejia needs time to recuperate, Matsuzaka could be starting on April 4 instead of Mejia and John Lannan could become the insurance for Niese.

Niese, incidentally, continued to feel good the day after pitching in a minor-league game.

Read more in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and MLB.com.

• Gary Carter’s widow Sandy and daughter Kimmy Bloemers were on hand for a pregame ceremony Friday honoring The Kid in Montreal. A crowd of 46,121 packed into Olympic Stadium for the Mets exhibition game against the Jays. Former Expo Warren Cromartie used the occasion to continue to lobby for MLB to return to Montreal, while acknowledging that meant the relocation of an existing team and not expansion. Read more on the Gary Carter ceremony and MLB’s future in Montreal in the Daily News, Foxsports.com, Times, Journal and MLB.com.

Bobby Parnell surrendered a walk-off single in the ninth as the Mets lost to the Jays, 5-4. Travis d’Arnaud homered against his former organization. Mejia had limited Toronto to a solo homer by Jose Bautista in four-plus innings before the liner forced him to depart.

• The Mets have released $35 standing-room-only tickets for Opening Day.

Jose Reyes called Ruben Tejada a couple of weeks ago to offer support. “They just need to let Tejada play,” Reyes told Kristie Ackert in the Daily News before Friday’s Mets-Jays game. “Don’t put so much pressure on him. He’s like 23-24 years old, so I mean the talent is still there. Let the guy play. Let the guy develop his talent. Just give him a chance.”

• Collins said Lucas Duda still may see some outfield action to get into the lineup if both Ike Davis and Duda are hitting well. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Record.

Omar Quintanilla officially has beaten out Anthony Seratelli for the backup shortstop role, according to Collins. If something were to happen to Tejada and Quintanilla, David Wright would be the primary candidate to complete the game at shortstop, the manager added.

• Minor-league teams begin play Thursday. Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom highlight Las Vegas’ rotation. Double-A Binghamton’s roster should include Kevin Plawecki, Cory Vaughn, Jack Leathersich, Adam Kolarek, Dustin Lawley, Matt Reynolds and Wilfredo Tovar. Class A St. Lucie should include Brandon Nimmo, Gabriel Ynoa and Steven Matz. Low-A Savannah should include Dominic Smith, last year’s first-round pick.

• Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos on Friday defended last offseason’s trade of Syndergaard and d’Arnaud to the Mets for R.A. Dickey.

“I think it’s good for both,” Anthopoulos told Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger. “We definitely need starters and we definitely need innings. We’d love to get more guys like R.A., especially since he almost led the AL in innings pitched -- I think he was just behind James Shields by five-something. He started out slow, but second half of the year put up a three-and-a-half ERA and had a great year for us.

“Ultimately, Josh Johnson got hurt, Brandon Morrow got hurt, [Mark] Buehrle’s done what he’s always done. Our offense is still a pretty good team, but guys have missed time. If we had just had a little more production out of the three, four, five in our rotation, it would have changed things for us. He’s obviously a really key part of our team.”

BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets reliever Scott Atchison turns 38. ... Oakland GM Billy Beane, a former Mets first-round pick, is 52.


YOU’RE UP: How concerned are you about the Mets’ bullpen?