Morning Briefing: Relief for Lannan


FIRST PITCH: John Lannan’s best bet to make the Opening Day roster appears as a second bullpen left-hander alongside Scott Rice, but Lannan continues to be evaluated at as a starter, too.

Lannan gets Wednesday’s Grapefruit League start against the St. Louis Cardinals at Tradition Field at 1:10 p.m. (SNY). He opposes right-hander Carlos Martinez.

Terry Collins expects Daniel Murphy to be in the lineup Wednesday for the first time since injuring his right calf on an aggressive slide into second baseman Kolten Wong in Friday’s Grapefruit League game. The manager added that Ike Davis (calf) and Lucas Duda (hamstring) may only be a day away from at least serving as designated hitters on the minor-league side of the complex.

Wednesday’s news reports:


John Lannan is currently projected to join Scott Rice in the bullpen.

• Sources project to ESPNNewYork.com that if the Opening Day roster had to be named today, Jose Valverde and Lannan would make the bullpen and Kyle Farnsworth would not.

One source also asserts the Mets are leaning toward carrying Daisuke Matsuzaka over Jenrry Mejia as the fifth starter, although they still consider that a competition. If Mejia is not in the big-league rotation, a serious powwow would be convened to determine whether Mejia becomes a reliever, or is used as a starter at Triple-A Las Vegas. Regardless, Mets officials want to make a decision regarding Mejia’s role and stick with it, rather than continue to shuffle him between the rotation and relief.

Lannan, meanwhile, is receptive to a relief assignment if it will get him on the Opening Day roster.

Read the full roster projection and analysis here.

Read more on Lannan as a potential reliever in the Record.

• Collins became concerned Tuesday when a fastball from Jonathon Niese to open his outing registered only 79 mph. Still, after allowing four runs on six hits and two walks against the St. Louis Cardinals, Niese suggested his velocity was in the upper-80s by the end of his two-inning appearance. More importantly, he insisted his shoulder felt fine.

Niese remains lined up for Opening Day. Collins said he likely would use Bartolo Colon, or possibly Dillon Gee, on March 31 at Citi Field against the Washington Nationals if Niese’s final three exhibition starts reveal the southpaw is not ready for the season opener.

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

Wilmer Flores went 2-for-3 with a walk Tuesday, but it was his fielding assignment that was notable. Flores started a game at shortstop for the first time since 2011. He had a miscue on the first grounder to him, losing the handle as he transferred the ball from his glove to throwing hard. Regarding shortstop, “I definitely can play,” Flores insisted afterward. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Daily News, Newsday and MLB.com.

Zach Lutz delivered a tiebreaking solo homer in the ninth against Trevor Rosenthal as the Mets beat St. Louis, 9-8, at Roger Dean Stadium. Josh Satin and Kirk Nieuwenhuis also went deep in the victory. Read more at MLB.com.

• Tuesday's game included a ninth-inning replay challenge initiated by the Cardinals, with St. Louis trailing by a run. It would have loaded the bases with none out against Miguel Socolovich if an out call at third base had been reversed. Dissatisfied that the call on the field was upheld by replay, manager Mike Matheny wants MLB officials in New York to weigh in.

• Palm Beach County commissioners discussed the future of baseball on the Atlantic Ocean side of Florida at an open meeting Tuesday. The Mets are among the handful of teams -- along with the Cards, Miami Marlins and Nationals -- that are isolated on this side of Florida, with only a few opponents within a two-hour drive. Read more in the Palm Beach Post.

On a related topic, Brian Costa in the Journal nearly watched eight different Cactus League games in Arizona in the time it took the Mets to drive from Port St. Lucie to Lakeland to face the Detroit Tigers.

Ruben Tejada tells Dan Martin in the Post he does not pay attention to any chatter about free-agent Stephen Drew. Columnist John Harper in the Daily News writes that the Mets continue to scout Seattle’s Nick Franklin and “are continuing to monitor the Diamondbacks’ shortstop competition and ‘could jump in’ to try to make a trade for either Didi Gregorius or Chris Owings before spring training ends.”

• Read updates on Murphy, Davis and Duda in the Post.

• AC Milan will play Olympiakos in a soccer match at Citi Field on July 24.

From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report revisits five questions heading into spring training.

BIRTHDAYS: Darryl Strawberry, who slugged a franchise-record 252 homers as a Met, turns 52. Watch out Straw: David Wright enters 2014 with 222 career homers.


YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets use Jenrry Mejia in the big-league rotation, big-league bullpen or Triple-A rotation?