Morning Briefing: From least to beast

Adam Rubin

The Mets spend the weekend in San Francisco, home of aggressive seagulls.CHICAGO

FIRST PITCH: The lowly Chicago Cubs completed a sweep of the Mets on Thursday at Wrigley Field. And captain David Wright summed it up this way postgame: “We didn’t play well at all.”

Now, things truly get challenging for the Amazin’s.

The Mets begin a three-game series in San Francisco on Friday. The Giants own an MLB-best 39-21 record.

Jonathon Niese (3-3, 2.69 ERA) opposes right-hander Matt Cain (1-3, 3.66) in the 10:15 p.m. ET opener at AT&T Park. Cain is returning from a DL stint for a mild right hamstring strain.

Friday’s news reports:

• Top prospect Noah Syndergaard’s return from a forearm strain had an abrupt ending. Syndergaard was forced to depart in the first inning with discomfort in his left, non-throwing shoulder after taking a jolt in a plate collision after uncorking a wild pitch. He was headed for X-rays late Thursday night.

Aside from the injury, Wally Backman told Todd Dewey of the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Syndergaard needed more minor league experience.

“Everybody thinks he’s on the Wheeler-Harvey type of system. I think he’ll stay here a little bit longer than those guys did, just to develop,” Backman told Dewey. “He’s a 21-year-old kid who’s got a very special arm. I think the organization wants to make sure that he’s right when he goes to the big leagues. With the pitching they have, there’s not a need to push him as quickly as Wheeler last year.”

Read more on the initial details of Syndergaard’s injury in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Post, Star-Ledger, Newsday and at MLB.com.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

With the 10th overall pick, the Mets selected Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto.

• The Mets selected Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto with the 10th overall pick in the draft. The organization did not have a second-round pick because they signed Curtis Granderson during the offseason. The draft resumes Friday afternoon, beginning with the third round.

How quickly can the power-hitting Conforto, a two-time Pac-12 Player of the Year, reach the majors? Paul DePodesta did not care to speculate.

A look at last year’s first round reveals Texas right-hander pitcher Corey Knebel (supplemental pick/39th overall by the Tigers) is the lone player to make his major league debut so far.

Four players from the 2012 first round have debuted in the majors: catcher Mike Zunino (Mariners, third overall, University of Florida), right-hander Kevin Gausman (Orioles, fourth, LSU), right-hander Michael Wacha (Cardinals, 19th, Texas A&M) and right-hander Marcus Stroman (Blue Jays, 22nd, Duke).

Oregon State’s season ended Monday with a regional loss to UC Irvine.

Read more on Conforto in the Oregonian, Post, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and at MLB.com.

• Frank Viola is due to rejoin the Las Vegas 51s on Friday as pitching coach. Viola underwent open-heart surgery on April 2. He represented the Mets alongside Mike Piazza at the draft on Thursday night.

Listen to a podcast of Viola speaking with WOR’s Pete McCarthy about Jacob deGrom and returning from open-heart surgery here.

• Out of an abundance of caution, the Mets reportedly will delay Matt Harvey getting on a mound for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery on Oct. 22. Harvey had aimed to get on a mound Monday. Read more in the Daily News.

• Piazza tells Jason Rubinstein in the Daily News that Citi Field is not the reason for the Mets’ woes.

“As a player, I played in some really tough hitters’ ballparks. I understand that [Citi Field] might not be a great hitters’ ballpark,” Piazza told Rubinstein. “But, to me, just take a step back, just hit the ball hard. Doubles and singles and walks are good, too. If you get the home run, you get the home run. There has to be a synergy, there has to be a plan offensively.

“It’s a tough game, and I’ve been there. You hit a ball into the wind and a guy catches it, then you're ticked off. It’s easier said than done, but you've got to find a way to push through it.”

Listen to a WOR podcast with Piazza here.

Vic Black surrendered a tiebreaking solo homer in the seventh to Anthony Rizzo and the Cubs ultimately beat the Mets, 7-4, to complete their first three-game sweep of the Amazin’s at Wrigley Field since 2004. DeGrom remained winless. The rookie was charged with four runs in five innings, but did not get much help from his fielders during a three-run second inning that included a failure to turn a double play by Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores.

Wright was double-switched out of the game in the eighth.

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

• Cory Vaughn went 0-for-3 with a walk in his Triple-A debut as Las Vegas lost to Fresno. Jairo Perez’s two-run homer went for naught as Dunedin beat St. Lucie, 7-4. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Jared Diamond in the Journal speaks with experts about the relative protection of hockey-style and traditional catcher’s masks. The hockey style appears marginally safer, but Travis d’Arnaud has switched back to the traditional style since returning from his latest concussion.

• D’Arnaud’s average has plummeted to .184, but Terry Collins is preaching patience.

• Dave McNary at Variety writes that a Lenny Dykstra movie is in the works. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post writes about the influence of advice from Yogi Berra on Savannah’s L.J. Mazzilli, the son of ex-Met Lee Mazzilli.

• Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger writes about how Lamar Johnson is adjusting to the abundance of information available compared with the last time he served as a major league hitting coach.

BIRTHDAYS: Bud Harrelson, now a co-owner of the independent Long Island Ducks, turns 70. ... Outfielder Jesus Feliciano is 35.


YOU’RE UP: What should the Mets do with Travis d’Arnaud and the catching situation?