Morning Briefing: Sandy again talks 90 wins


FIRST PITCH: After a rainout in Philly and then waiting hours for their chartered plane, the Mets will open a four-game series Thursday night in Denver.

Juan Lagares is expected to be activated from the disabled list for the series opener, as the Mets likely begin employing a four-man rotation in the outfield. Denver native Kirk Nieuwenhuis would appear the logical player sent to Triple-A Las Vegas to clear the roster spot for Lagares.

Eric Young Jr. will have a family reunion with his father, Rockies first-base coach Eric Young. And LaTroy Hawkins, who signed with Colorado for $2.5 million, will get to catch up with his 2013 teammates.

Bartolo Colon (2-3, 4.50 ERA), who had been slated to start Wednesday in Philadelphia, instead opens the series against the Rockies at 8:40 p.m. ET at Coors Field. Colon opposes right-hander Juan Nicasio (2-1, 5.27).

Read the series preview here.

Thursday’s news reports:

• Tyler Kepner in the Times notes the Mets and Yankees have the same 15-11 record but different expectations. They both are on pace for 93 wins.

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Sandy Alderson again discussed his 90-wins goal.

Sandy Alderson tells Kepner, referring to his much-dissected 90-wins goal: “We challenged ourselves to think realistically about what each player could do. It’s not like we believe everybody has to have a career year in order to achieve this. That’s not the case. So when we laid out our goal, it wasn’t so daunting. But it did force us to think: How do we do this? It’s something that informs your approach on a daily basis. …

“The fact that we have the record we have, and the month we’ve had, without the offensive contributions, gives me optimism as opposed to pessimism,” Alderson added. “I’m confident we will not have three or four players under .200 for the bulk of the season.”

Kepner noted the Mets are the only MLB team to have their starting pitcher complete five innings in every game this season. To that point, Alderson said: “I think that breeds confidence, when they have the sense that they have an edge or at least an even shot. That’s one of the benefits of having a deep rotation, and in some ways, it’s better than having a 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. If you have a bunch of two-and-a-halves, you get that feeling every night.”

Alderson also insisted the Mets have room to add payroll.

• Lagares, due to join the Mets, indicated he does not mind being a part of the outfield rotation.

“For me I don’t think about that,” Lagares told Mitch Abramson in the Daily News. “I just want to keep working hard and be there for the team. Anywhere they need me I want to be ready for it. Any decision they make, they know what they’re doing. I just want to go work hard and work every day. If I don’t play, then I’ll be ready.”

As for landing on the DL with a pulled right hamstring while he had been performing so well (including a .314 batting average), Lagares added: “It’s a little hard, because when you’re there and you do good, you want to stay doing it. When something happens you feel a little down. But it’s like I said, it can happen to anybody and the only thing you can do is keep working to try to come back to try to keep doing the same.”

• Columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post disapproved of the “loyalty oath” letter sent via email blast to Mets fans. Writes Vaccaro:

It is simply one more example that the people who root for the Mets are so much better, so much more deserving of better, than the people who run the Mets. Over the last two days, the Mets have blasted letters to hundreds of thousands of people, over the signatures of some of the team’s greatest stars. The greeting -- “To True New Yorkers” -- begins the absurdity.

And it just gets worse from there. Here is the money quote:

“As players, we can tell you that what happens in the clubhouse and what happens in the stands -- players and fans together, believing in each other -- makes a tremendous difference with what happens on the field.”

Translation: We’re winning and the stadium is empty. What’s wrong with you?

• Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post suggests Chris Young is starting to heat up.

• Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger writes that Daisuke Matsuzaka is still getting acclimated to relief work.

"I think if I really wanted to, if I tried to do what guys like [Scott] Rice, [Carlos] Torres do, which is pretty much start throwing when the phone call comes, I probably could do that and be ready in time," Matsuzaka tells Vorkunov through an interpreter about his extensive warm-up routine. “But I think a lot of it is I would worry myself. Since I’ve been taking so long in the past, I’m just not ready to do that, go into that, so I feel more comfortable by taking my time and just doing things to be ready for an extended amount of time instead of going out there and throwing.”

As for how he feels about relieving, Matsuzaka adds: "Right now, I don’t think ‘enjoying it’ would be the right word. I don’t know if ‘pressure’ is the right word. But I think for me right now it just feels tough. It’s tough. It’s something that’s tough to do rather than something I’m enjoying right now. I’m still trying to get used to it. I’m just trying to get into a rhythm."

• Mike Puma in the Post labels Jonathon Niese the Mets’ MVP and Curtis Granderson the team’s LVP for April.

• Marc Carig in Newsday suggests the Mets may just be unlucky at the plate. Writes Carig:

At 21.7 percent, the Mets' line-drive rate ranks fifth best in the major leagues, according to data from FanGraphs.com. Considering how hard the Mets have hit the ball, one estimate puts the team’s expected batting average for balls in play at a healthy .326, good enough for third in all of baseball.

Instead, the Mets have just a .282 average for balls in play, which lags at 25th. That disparity points to some bad luck.

• Noah Syndergaard sliced his Pacific Coast League ERA to 3.94 by limiting Reno to one run in seven innings. Ricky Knapp tossed 7 1/3 scoreless innings and earned his first professional win as Savannah beat Delmarva, 1-0. Read the full minor-league recap here.

BIRTHDAYS: Former reliever Manny Acosta turns 33. ... Joe Hietpas is 35. ... Armando Reynoso is 48. ... Charlie O'Brien is 54. ... Outfield prospect Cory Vaughn, who is playing for Double-A Binghamton, is 25.


YOU’RE UP: What do you think about Sandy Alderson’s quotes?