Morning Briefing: Tripleheader today


FIRST PITCH: It’s a tripleheader for the Mets on Thursday.

The Mets send a pair of squads to Kissimmee, Fla., to face the Houston Astros. At 10 a.m. in a “B” game, Logan Verrett, Vic Black, Jack Leathersich and Erik Goeddel are scheduled to pitch.

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Fifth-starter contender John Lannan starts Thursday's Grapefruit League game.

Then, in the 1:05 p.m. official Grapefruit League game at Osceola County Stadium, fifth-starter contender John Lannan opposes ex-Met Collin McHugh. Rafael Montero and Steven Matz also now are listed for that game.

Meanwhile, there is plenty of action crammed into three innings in a structured intrasquad game on a back field at the Mets’ complex, which will not be open to the public. Now at 10 a.m., Bartolo Colon, Jonathon Niese and Bobby Parnell have their first game action of spring training.

Colon was slowed early in camp by a calf issue. Niese had to be dispatched to New York for an MRI of his shoulder (which came back not alarming). Parnell, returning deliberately from herniated-disk surgery anyway, has a lingering quadriceps issue, too. This will be his first game-type action since last July 30.

The batters, primarily minor leaguers, should also include David Wright, Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis and maybe Ruben Tejada.

Terry Collins kept Wright and Murphy out of the first week of Grapefruit League games to ease them into action and guard against injury. Each should make his first official spring-training start Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals in Port St. Lucie. Davis (calves) and Tejada (hamstring) both have been dealing with injuries.

Lucas Duda (hamstring) is not ready to participate, Collins added.

Thursday’s news reports:

• The Mets were swept in split-squad games, losing in Viera, 11-5, to the Washington Nationals and losing, 5-2, in 10 innings in Port St. Lucie to the Miami Marlins. Jenrry Mejia -- who may get bullpen consideration late in camp, but who for now is eyeing the fifth-starter role -- allowed one unearned run in two innings against the Nats. Cory Mazzoni was tagged for seven runs in the eighth in that loss. Facing Miami’s Jose Fernandez and Washington’s Gio Gonzalez, the Mets went scoreless for a combined 5 1/3 innings against the aces. Gonzalez Germen allowed three 10th-inning runs after Matt den Dekker’s sacrifice fly tied the score in the bottom of the ninth.

Read more on Mejia in the Star-Ledger, Daily News, Record and Newsday.

• Collins understands he could use a backup shortstop with some offensive capability, so the manager wondered aloud if Wilmer Flores could serve in that role. Still, it seems very tentatively more like that Anthony Seratelli gets that nod over Flores or Omar Quintanilla, at least with the roster as presently constituted.

Anthony DiComo at MLB.com profiles Seratelli’s long route to the Mets, including the emotional loss of his father in 2011 in an auto accident.

Read more on Seratelli in the Star-Ledger.

• Collins is considering batting his pitcher eighth on occasion. Columnist Joel Sherman tackles that topic in the Post. Sherman also suggests that Juan Lagares will make the team at least as a bench player, although the columnist asserts there ought to be consideration to sending Lagares to Las Vegas. Meanwhile, a friend of Stephen Drew labeled it “very slim” to Sherman that the free-agent shortstop lands with the Mets.

• Murphy tells the Daily News about the conflict between the team’s offensive philosophy and his own mindset: “I struggle with thinking that a walk is a win. I struggle with that, because I look at a walk as, ‘I didn’t get a hit.’ And so what I’m trying to really, really learn is that 0-for-2 with two walks, that is a win. But I don’t always view it like that.”

• After pitching a perfect ninth inning at Tradition Field against the Marlins on Wednesday, Jose Valverde told Mike Puma in the Post about trying to make the club: “For me, every year I try to compete like a minor-league guy -- always. All my life, what I’ve done in spring training is like I’ve never played in the big leagues. The first day in Arizona, Houston, Detroit and now with the Mets, that was my mindset all the time -- ‘It’s my first spring training.’”

• Parking prices are rising at Citi Field, Mets Police reports. After charging $20 last season, the new posted rates for cars are $22 for the regular season, $25 for the postseason, $30 for special events and $22 for the U.S. Open.

Matt Harvey will earn a base salary of $547,000 in 2014 -- $47,000 above the MLB minimum -- plus another $60,000 in bonuses, according to the Associated Press.

• Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post asks original Generation K member Jason Isringhausen about the Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard trio. “Three guys coming up, there’s a lot of expectation,” Izzy, a guest instructor with the Cardinals, told Kernan. “But, with us, there were a lot of injuries. So hopefully these kids stay injury-free and they are able to pitch for 20 years. That would be great. That’s what everybody wants. The reality is you got to take care of these kids.’’

• Read more on the plan for Mets players returning to Grapefruit League play from injuries in the Star-Ledger, Record and Newsday.

• Jared Diamond in the Journal questions whether Duda’s fractured wrist during the 2012-13 offseason impacted his performance a year ago.

• Frank Viola’s son Frank III, who has tried to revive his career as a knuckleball pitcher, has signed a minor-league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays after a successful tryout, the former Cy Young winner tweeted. The younger Viola, a right-hander, is 29 years old.

• Tim Rohan in the Times profiles Mets farmhand L.J. Mazzilli, the son of Lee Mazzilli. L.J. was assigned No. 13 in minor-league camp, which his father wore from 1986 through ’89 with the Mets. L.J. has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, so he needs to be extra vigilant concentrating in the field, Rohan writes.

• Matz is profiled in the Post. The Long Island native is expected to open the season in Class A St. Lucie’s rotation, with a potential jump to Double-A Binghamton for the second half.

• Chris McShane at Amazin’ Avenue interviews Paul DePodesta.

• The Binghamton Mets will host a “Welcome Home” dinner for the Double-A club on April 2 at the DoubleTree in Binghamton. Tickets for the event/autograph session are $25. Call 607-723-METS or purchase at the NYSEG Stadium ticket office.

From the bloggers … The Eddie Kranepool Society addresses WOR’s Mets radio booth still being in flux. … Faith and Fear hears spring training is the cure for the common winter. … John Delcos at Mets Report wonders why there are so many tight muscles in camp.

BIRTHDAYS: No player to appear for the Mets was born on this date, but Shaquille O’Neal, Tom Arnold, Alan Greenspan and Michelangelo celebrate birthdays today.


YOU’RE UP: Do you prefer Wilmer Flores, Omar Quintanilla or Anthony Seratelli as the backup shortstop?