Mets position players undergo physicals Sunday, with the first full-squad workout scheduled for Monday. Ruben Tejada, who was due to land in Miami yesterday afternoon, has a meeting scheduled with Terry Collins for 8 a.m. today. Collins was disappointed his new first-string shortstop did not arrive to camp early.
Sunday's news reports:
• The Mets will wear a "KID 8" patch on their uniforms as a tribute to Gary Carter. Fred Wilpon presented the patch to Carter's widow Sandy after Friday's memorial service. Read more in the Daily News and Newsday.
• Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger does a Q&A with Jason Bay, and gets to the bottom of why he routinely exchanges text messages with Eddie Vedder. "I was a huge Pearl Jam fan … Eddie’s a huge baseball fan," Bay told McCullough. "Huge Cubs fan. There’s a lot of guys who have met him. Sean Casey, who’s a diehard Pearl Jam fan, he’s hung out with Eddie numerous times. When I got traded to Boston, we played a game and that night Eddie was playing somewhere in Boston on his solo tour. And he signed this poster, 'Hey, Jason, welcome to the Red Sox.' And then Casey gave me his number. So we text back and forth. ... I’ve never met him. I’ve never actually technically met him. And that’s the funny part. Casey was like, 'Hey, here’s his number, he said text him.' So he was like 'Hey, sounds good, man. If I’m ever up in Seattle recording …' He’s never up there. He’s got a lot going on. I’m probably the last person [on his mind]. 'Oh, I've got to call Jason Bay!'"
• Mike Pelfrey knows he needs to perform in 2012 or it may be his final season in Flushing. Pelfrey actually is under the Mets' control through the '13 season. But he settled for $5.6875 million this year and is arbitration-eligible again next winter, so he likely would be entitled to another raise. The Mets won't agree to that unless Pelfrey succeeds this season. "I want to play this game for as long as I can, and I can't do that with having the kind of year I had last year," Pelfrey told David Lennon in Newsday. "Going into the offseason, it kind of hits you like, 'Man, what happened?' So you go through it, you learn from it and you try to get better. I'm more determined not to let that happen again. Obviously, I need to have a good year or ... I might not be back." Pelfrey also tells Lennon he is far more serious now, not joking or accepting being the brunt of jokes from teammates about his palm-licking or balks. Pelfrey said he has now reincorporated a circle change, which he threw at Wichita State, instead of a split-finger fastball.
David Wright tells Mike Kerwick in the Record about Pelfrey: "He was coming off a good year, and then all of a sudden just because he's named the Opening Day starter … a lot of times he got matched up with [Roy] Halladay and Josh Johnson. There was numerous times where he pitched well and should have gotten a win. There were a couple times where we blew leads for him late. There were a couple times where he just had some bad luck because he's going up against other team's No. 1." Wright, Kerwick also notes, edged Pelfrey for the final playoff spot in the Mets' fantasy football league on the final day of their league's regular season. Pelfrey just needed to win his game to beat Wright, but lost his game by a half-point.
• 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey drew positive reviews from the major leaguers who hit against him, including Ike Davis and Josh Thole, during a live batting practice session Saturday. Despite his goal to make the Opening Day roster, Harvey most likely is ticketed to open 2012 at Double-A Binghamton. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.
Andy Martino in the Daily News looks at Harvey and highly regarded pitching prospect Jeurys Familia, who pitched together last season in the minors. Writes Martino:
Neither is quite ready for the Mets. Harvey struggled upon rising to Double-A last year, and while he later stabilized, his secondary pitches need refining. Familia’s ultimate role is unclear, although when he and Harvey talk, they imagine him as a dominant reliever."We always laugh about it," says Harvey. "He says, 'I'll close your games!' "
• Former Mets reliever Taylor Buchholz, who is skipping this season, continues to be open about his battle with depression and anxiety. Buchholz is serving as the pitching coach at his former high school in Springfield, Pa. He told Wayne Coffey in the Daily News about not being at spring training for the first time in more than a decade: "It definitely feels weird. There's a strange void, and a little jealousy. ... I’m in a good place. I'm excited about getting my feet wet with coaching."
• Mike Puma in the Post looks at the Mets' outfield defense, with Andres Torres in center field now joining Bay in left field and Lucas Duda in right field. "We know that Andres Torres is an outstanding defender," Collins said. "[San Francisco Giants manager] Bruce Bochy told me, 'If this guy stays healthy, he is an outstanding center fielder.'" Puma notes the Mets have no interest in using Duda in left field and switching Bay to right field. The elimination of the "Mo's Zone" nook in right field at Citi Field should make it easier for Duda anyway, lessening the difference in ground to cover between the corner outfield spots.
• Collins does a Q&A with Steve Serby in the Post. The skipper says R.A. Dickey would be his Opening Day starter if, for some reason, Johan Santana was unable. As for his expectations for Santana, Collins said: "What our expectations are and what our hopes are, are two different things. What our expectations are, is we don’t have any. If he’s healthy, he’ll be successful. We have hopes we can run him out there 28 times, and if it’s more than that, we’re gonna be really good. If it’s a little less than that, we’re still gonna be better. Is he gonna throw 95? Probably not. He has great command and still has that presence."
• Post columnist Mike Vaccaro compares Collins to New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin. Writes Vaccaro:
In a very real way, Collins is like that other sporting skipper in town with the initials T.C. In Tom Coughlin’s early days with the Giants, much was made of "Coughlin Time," which meant if you were on time you were really five minutes late. “Collins Time” is less formal and it doesn’t really have a name. Players just understand that whatever the official reporting date is, you can alter that as early as you like. And every other important Met did that.
• McCullough in the Star-Ledger writes about Adam Loewen's conversion from pitcher to outfielder. Loewen and Mike Baxter currently are competing for a lefty-hitting outfield spot, although the Mets just as likely could bring in someone from outside the organization late in camp. Writes McCullough:
The Rick Ankiel you’ve never heard about treats his tale with a blend of humility and simplicity. Nearly a decade ago, the Baltimore Orioles selected Loewen with the fourth pick in the MLB Draft. Half a decade ago, after breaking into the majors, the bones in Loewen’s left elbow separated and refused to reunite. He opted for another line of work -- converting into a position player after six years as a pitcher and a career mark of 8-8 with a 5.38 ERA.
• Andrew Keh in the Times profiles center-field prospect Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who is returning after missing the latter part of last season at Triple-A Buffalo following shoulder surgery. "There's no doubt this is an important spring for him because of the situation we’re looking at, with us in desperate need of guys who can play outfield," Collins told Keh. "We're going to give him a lot of playing time. He's going to get plenty of chances to prove himself."
TRIVIA: Which player in Mets big league camp has a father who coaches a college baseball team?
(Saturday's answer: Valentino Pascucci had the most RBIs by a Buffalo Bison in 2011, with 91.)