Pitchers and catchers officially report today, although the first official workout waits until Wednesday.
Monday's news reports:
• Despite $2.5 million being invested in renovations at Digital Domain Park in the hopes of landing a second team at the Mets' spring-training complex, another major league organization joining the Mets by moving to the Port St. Lucie complex is unlikely, Laurel Pfahler reports at TCPalm.com.
The Mets are forced to play the majority of their spring-training games against division opponents because neighbors have abandoned the Atlantic coast of Florida in recent years, including the Los Angeles Dodgers moving from Vero Beach to Arizona and the Baltimore Orioles relocating from Fort Lauderdale across the state to Sarasota.
Another blow could be coming: One of the few close teams, the Washington Nationals, is considering leaving Viera, which is an hour north on I-95 from Port St. Lucie, for either another Florida location or Arizona (but not Port St. Lucie). The only other teams in the immediate area are the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins, who train 45 minutes south of the Mets' complex, in Jupiter.
The Houston Astros have business ties to Palm City that could lure the team from Kissimmee, and a few other teams are rumored to be looking at relocating, but Mets representatives say there are no new developments in their efforts to bring in another team."It's still largely a concept," Mets executive vice president of business operations Dave Howard said. "It's something we are interested in. ... It's a strategy we would consider, but not an active project."
As for the Mets' commitment to Port St. Lucie, Pfahler writes:
The Mets appear a little more tied down to their contract, which was extended five years through 2023 when the stadium renovations were approved in the fall. The team only can leave without penalty -- other than making a percentage of the remaining annual debt service payments -- if the number of teams on the East Coast and in the Orlando area drops below four.
That would seem a hard threshold to cross given the two teams in Jupiter and the Atlanta Braves seemingly entrenched at Disney.
• The Mets will have a "sizable" contingent from the team at Friday evening's memorial service for Gary Carter in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., team spokesman Jay Horwitz told Newsday.
• Robert Lipsyte recalls covering the Mets' first spring training, in 1962 for the Times. Writes Lipsyte:
Among the Mets acquired in the expansion draft because they were considered past their prime or otherwise expendable were some star players, including Frank Thomas, a three-time All-Star slugger at Pittsburgh; Gus Bell, a four-time All-Star at Cincinnati; and the onetime Phillies Whiz Kid Richie Ashburn, a former batting champion with a .308 career average. Alas, there were more critical numbers — the three made up an outfield with 19 children and a combined age of 102.
• Dillon Gee told Mike Puma in the Post that he ran out of gas during the season half of the season, in his first full major league year. Gee opened 2011 with a 7-0 record -- tied for fourth-best to open a season in Mets history, behind Terry Leach (10-0 in 1987), Pat Mahomes (8-0 in 1999) and Dwight Gooden (8-0 in 1988). In his final 12 starts, Gee had a 5.54 ERA, while opponents had a .389 on-base percentage. "I would be lying if I said I wasn’t really tired," Gee told Puma. "But it was important for me to experience that. I know now what I need to do better. I don't think that first half was luck at all. I just think I was pitching well. I knew what I was doing. But as soon as I had a couple of bad outings I started pressing a little bit."
• David Lennon in Newsday emphasizes the importance of Johan Santana being able to pitch from Opening Day. The Mets are not deep at starting pitching. So if Santana -- or for that matter any incumbent -- lands on the disabled list, the available pitchers include probable fallback Miguel Batista as well as Chris Schwinden, Jeremy Hefner and Garrett Olson. Sandy Alderson said Saturday that a prospect such as Matt Harvey or Jeurys Familia is not a consideration for the Opening Day roster under any circumstances. Santana, who threw 25 pitches off a mound Friday, is scheduled to return to the mound for another session Tuesday.
• The Star-Ledger's Andy McCullough discusses David Wright with hitting coach Dave Hudgens. Hudgens would like Wright to make adjustments that might reduce his strikeout totals. Writes McCullough:
Wright turned 29 in December. He is approaching baseball’s version of middle age, that cruel moment when reflexes slow down and bat speed declines. So perhaps 2011 was an outlier. Or perhaps it was a harbinger. That knowledge limits his current trade value, one talent evaluator explained this winter.
TRIVIA: Who threw the final pitch of the 2011 season for the Mets?
(Sunday's answer: John Olerud had the highest single-season on-base percentage in franchise history, with a minimum of 500 plate appearances. Actually, Olerud occupies the top two spots, with a .447 OBP in 1998 and a .427 OBP the following season.)