After an off-day to regroup following getting swept in the Subway Series, the Mets resume play with a stern test -- the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays at the Trop. Chris Young (0-0, 3.60 ERA) makes his second major league start since returning from surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule. He opposes Rays right-hander Alex Cobb (2-2, 4.12).
Tuesday's news reports:
• The Mets could look to upgrade the bullpen if they continue in at least the wild-card race, but whether they will be a contender is still playing out. Regardless, don't look for Sandy Alderson -- who received prized prospect Zack Wheeler for Carlos Beltran last July -- to turn around and trade a significant minor leaguer.
Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post identifies Minnesota's Matt Capps, Oakland's Grant Balfour and Houston's Brett Myers as relievers who potentially will be available at the trade deadline. “And that’s the hard part," Alderson said about trade versus preserving the farm system. "Of course we want to win. We all want to win. It would be important for the fan base. It would be important for ownership. But, at the same time, we have to sort of take everything into account.” Regarding the bullpen, Alderson said: “This is an area to begin to look at externally."
The GM added: “One of the interesting things that exists currently is now people have expectations. When you lose six out of seven, people are unhappy. … From two months ago when nobody cared, in that sense, we’ve made progress. You want to be able to satisfy those expectations at some point.”
• Brian Costa in the Journal notes that while Andres Torres' attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is not causing his subpar production, his difficulty concentrating can make it more challenging to break the funk. Torres takes medication for the issue and was the subject of a documentary that recently was screened for the first time.
A switch-hitter, Torres is hitting .205 overall as a Met, and .163 against right-handed pitching. Once the Mets lose the DH on Friday back at Citi Field, and with Kirk Nieuwenhuis playing strongly, something will have to give with the outfielders' playing time. Assuming Jason Bay -- no given -- and Lucas Duda play regularly in the outfield along with Nieuwenhuis, Torres' playing time will decrease. If Duda shifts to first base for Ike Davis, another distinct possibility, that relieves some outfield crowding. But none of that accounts for getting Scott Hairston playing time, particularly against southpaws.
There is only so much information Torres can absorb before his mind strays. "He has kind of a difficult time staying on task," [hitting coach Dave] Hudgens said. "He's a great worker, great guy, really loves the game, but it's difficult for him to stay on one thing that he's trying to work on a lot of times." That is evident simply in talking to Torres by his locker. At times, he'll be only midway through one sentence when he jumps ahead to the next. He had been talking about hitting for less than a minute Sunday when he became distracted by the name on a reporter's credential. "Is that a Latin name?" he asked. It is just as difficult for Torres to keep his body at rest, which is why he works out constantly. After a game in Pittsburgh last month, Torres did push-ups off the seat of his chair while his teammates hit the showers.
• Bay, who is 0-for-11 since returning from the DL, tells Mike Puma in the Post he still can play. "Production-wise, it hasn’t been on par, I understand that, but I still feel like I can do those things -- that is the frustrating part,” Bay told Puma. “If I didn’t feel like I can do it, I think it wouldn’t be that tough. You wouldn’t be so hard on yourself, but I feel like I can do it and it’s just been a couple of years of searching for it.” Bay only has 68 plate appearances this season as a result of time lost due to a rib fracture, so he is unlikely to reach 500 plate appearances this season. Reaching that threshold, then again getting 500 PAs in 2013, would trigger a 2014 vesting option at $17 million. Bay (.197, 3 HR, 5 RBIs) still can trigger with it 600 plate appearances next season.
• Young is returning from the same surgery that was performed on Johan Santana. Only Young has done so more quickly than Santana. Young's procedure was performed on May 16, 2011. Santana underwent the shoulder surgery the previous September. “It represented more than just a no-hitter to my wife and I,” Young said about Santana's no-hitter to Anthony McCarron in the Daily News. “It represented hope that I’m going to be as good as ever, too. I know what it meant to the Mets, to the organization, and to the fans, the history there. But to me, I feel like it took on an even bigger meaning, symbolically.”
At one point in May, Young told Santana he was hurting. His arm lapsed into what Young described as “the same kind of dead arm period you can get in spring training.” “He said he was feeling like he was hit by a truck,” Santana said. “I’m like, ‘I know exactly how you feel. Me, it was a train.’” On Santana’s advice, the Mets scheduled some extra rest for Young and he rebounded quickly. “I was achy and sore and since then, my arm has responded great and I anticipate it will continue to,” Young said.
The morning after his first major league start in 13 months start, Young's wife went into labor and he went on paternity leave. Doctors had been planning to induce labor that day, but she went into labor naturally, Young told Mike Kerwick in the Record. Grant Christopher is the newest addition to the family.
• Columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record reports Jim Duquette and 10-year-old Lindsey are doing well a week after the former Mets GM donated a kidney to his daughter. Writes Klapisch:
Both were crying, although for different reasons. Lindsey wept “out of pure fear,” said Jim, as the anesthesiologists converged on the little girl who was afraid of the bottomless black sleep where there are no sweet dreams. It broke Jim’s heart to see his child weeping, although he was coming apart, too. “But I was crying because I knew this was the start of something better for Lindsey,” he said. “For all of us.” It’s been one week since the transplant, and Lindsey’s doctors believe her nightmare, which began in 2004, finally may be over. Her new kidney, Jim’s gift, is functioning at 100 percent efficiency. Even though she will be on an immune-suppressing medication for the rest of her days, Lindsey soon could return to the life she’d nearly forgotten.
Read more in the Daily News.
• After David Wright and Omar Quintanilla's errors opened the door for a Yankees comeback from a three-run deficit Sunday, Anthony Rieber in Newsday concludes the Mets are a bad defensive club. Writes Rieber:
The Mets, who begin a three-game interleague series against the Rays Tuesday night in St. Petersburg, Fla., were the fourth-worst defensive team in the majors going into Monday's action. But here's the rub: The three teams with fielding percentages below the Mets' .978 -- Tampa Bay, Baltimore and San Francisco -- are all playoff contenders. As are the Mets, though their stock is dropping after they lost six of seven, including all three to the Yankees in the first go-round of the Subway Series. "We've talked about this time and again," manager Terry Collins said Sunday after a 5-4 loss in the Bronx. "We aren't the kind of club that can make a lot of mistakes. When you give teams as good as the New York Yankees or anybody else in the big leagues multiple-out innings, they're gonna get ya. We saw it several times in the last two weeks where we haven't made plays and the next thing you know, it becomes a big inning."
Read more on the Mets' lackluster fielding in the Times.
• Former Mets VP Tony Bernazard, who oversaw the farm system under Omar Minaya, is now working as a liaison to players for agent Scott Boras, Danny Knobler writes at CBSSports.com. Bernazard was at Yankee Stadium on Sunday for the Subway Series finale.
• The Mets' top two picks are now signed. The team confirmed the signing of first-round pick Gavin Cecchini, a prep shortstop from Louisiana, last Friday for a reported $2.3 million. Now, Jim Callis reports in Baseball America, the Mets' supplemental first-round pick (35th overall), also is on board. Purdue University catcher Kevin Plawecki signed for $1.4 million, according to the magazine. The commissioner's recommended amount for that slot was $1,467,400.
• Center field prospect Matt den Dekker was named Eastern League Player of the Week and was promoted to Triple-A Buffalo on Monday. Den Dekker hit .340 with eight homers, 29 RBIs and 10 steals in 238 at-bats with Double-A Binghamton.
• After tossing four scoreless innings for Buffalo, Jeurys Familia ran into trouble in the fifth, allowing five runs, including a two-run homer by Lew Ford. The game was called due to rain after that inning, and Norfolk beat the Bisons, 5-4. Read Monday's full minor league recap here.
• Jose Leger was named the manager of the Class A Kingsport Mets. The Appalachian League team begins play next Tuesday. Former Mets bullpen coach Jon Debus originally was due to serve as Kingsport manager, but instead became minor league rehab coordinator based in Port St. Lucie, Fla., when Randy Niemann left the organization to join Bobby Valentine with the Red Sox. Leger managed a Dominican Summer League Mets team the past two seasons and is a former minor league infielder with the Minnesota Twins.
• Anthony McCarron in the Daily News notes Jon Rauch retweeted expletive-filled tweets directed at him from fans after the reliever served up Sunday's game-ending homer to Russell Martin.
TRIVIA: The Mets won only one game in the last series between the Mets and Rays in St. Petersburg, in 2001. Who were the starting pitchers in that game?
Monday's answer: In the ill-fated Scott Kazmir-for-Victor Zambrano swap, the teams also exchanged relievers. The Mets received Bartolome Fortunano. Jose Diaz was sent to the Rays.