Mets prospect Steven Matz (above) displays a non-pitching talent.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.
FIRST PITCH: One more day of exclusively pitchers-and-catchers workouts. Then the full squad has its first official workout Saturday.
Friday’s news reports:
• Four months after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Matt Harvey has been cleared to begin tossing a baseball. The Mets, trying to prevent Harvey form being a spring-training storyline, would not allow the rehabbing ace to speak with other media after he gave an interview to ESPNNewYork.com about being cleared, writes Kristie Ackert in the Daily News. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Newsday and MLB.com.
• The Mets may be able to upgrade at shortstop before Opening Day by trading for Seattle’s Nick Franklin, industry insiders tell ESPNNewYork.com. Franklin became expendable with Robinson Cano having signed with the Mariners to play second base and with fellow 2013 rookie Brad Miller a capable shortstop.
Meanwhile, the Mets are not pursuing Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz, a source told ESPNNewYork.com.
• If Ruben Tejada remains the starter, perhaps New Jersey native and switch-hitter Anthony Seratelli could sneak onto the roster as a backup infielder. He also has corner-outfield experience. Writes Ken Davidoff in the Post:
The Old Bridge High School baseball team cut Anthony Seratelli as a freshman. Seton Hall welcomed him aboard only after he walked on to the program. No Major League Baseball team drafted him. Seratelli will turn 31 on Feb. 27, and he has yet to play in a big-league game.
“I’ve been beaten down,” the utility man said, laughing, Thursday at Tradition Field. “I just keep trying to get there.”
• Citi Field is expected to host a soccer match between AC Milan and Olympiakos on July 24, while the Mets are on the road.
• Thursday was the report date for Mets position players. Omar Quintanilla arrived at the complex in the mid-afternoon, after the position players’ voluntary workout had ended. The only other player yet to be seen at camp is Wilfredo Tovar, who was due to land in Florida sometime Thursday, according to a team official.
• Marc Carig in Newsday asks if Juan Lagares will hit enough to find his way into the lineup. The bottom line: If Terry Collins proceeds with his preference of Eric Young Jr. as the leadoff hitter, it would seem Lagares is the odd-man out, unless a trade or injury opens a spot. Writes Carig:
According to Wins Above Replacement, the statistic that measures a player’s total contributions, the Mets saved more runs last season with Lagares’ elite glove (plus-24.4 above average) than they lost with his faulty bat (minus-12.0). In 2014, he’s again projected to be worth the tradeoff. Except the Mets have balked at penciling in Lagares, whose defensive contributions may be difficult to quantify.
Jared Diamond in the Journal is not fond of getting Young playing time at Lagares’ expense. Writes Diamond:
Young led the National League with 46 stolen bases in 2013, an achievement that makes him a useful cog on any roster. In the past, that statistic alone would have made him an acceptable fit for the leadoff spot, where he could use his legs to create early runs.
Nowadays, however, teams look for skills other than raw speed in a leadoff hitter, understanding that in order for a fast runner to steal second, he needs to be on first. Despite Collins' old-fashioned idea of the prototypical leadoff man, the Mets' front office seems to grasp this, basing its offensive philosophy on pitch selection. When asked to identify the key skill for a leadoff hitter, Young responded, “Ultimately, getting on base.”
But Young doesn’t do that nearly enough.
• Collins and other Mets staffers planned to attend a session led by MLB’s Joe Torre and Tony La Russa on Thursday afternoon explaining the implementation of a home-plate collision ban and the expanded use of instant replay.
• Tim Rohan in the Times and Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger profile Cory Vaughn, the diabetic outfield prospect and son of former major leaguer Greg Vaughn. The 24-year-old Vaughn hit .267 with 10 homers and 50 RBIs in 262 at-bats with Double-A Binghamton last season while missing substantial time with a right elbow strain that did not require surgery. He played college baseball alongside Stephen Strasburg at San Diego State, for coach Tony Gwynn.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear ponders promises made, promises kept and how much promise lies within newly acquired Mets. … At Mets Police, Mike V makes the case against lower case d’s on Mets uniforms. … John Delcos at Mets Report writes that strikeouts are an issue for the club.
BIRTHDAYS: The late Joe Foy, who played for the Mets 44 years ago, and who attended Evander Childs High School in the Bronx, was born on this date in 1943.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Spring training and growing can be tiring!! pic.twitter.com/bhNDmD0Ezr
— Dillon Gee (@DillonGee35) February 21, 2014
YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets acquire a Mariners shortstop or go with Ruben Tejada?