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Morning Briefing: Steven Matz (and his bat) due up for Mets

LOS ANGELES --

FIRST PITCH: Hopefully Steven Matz remembered to pack Triple-A Las Vegas shortstop Matt Reynolds’ bat for the West Coast trip.

After using his minor league teammate’s lumber and setting an MLB record for a debuting pitcher by producing four RBIs last Sunday, Matz now makes an encore performance at Dodger Stadium.

In his second career start, Matz (1-0, 2.35 ERA) opposes right-hander Mike Bolsinger (4-2, 2.76) in a 4:10 p.m. ET rubber game on Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Matz batted .304 with Las Vegas this season before his call-up. He always has taken pride in his hitting. He was a first baseman at Ward Melville High School on Long Island when he wasn’t pitching.

His 3-for-3 performance at the plate and 7⅔ innings on the mound against the Cincinnati Reds in his debut might have been close to perfect, but Matz is not infallible.

The Mets have a wrestling-style belt they award to their player of the game. Matz, charged with ensuring the belt made it to California, failed in that responsibility.

“I didn’t realize. I forgot,” Matz said.

His penance: Teammates put all of their uniform belts in his locker. Matz had to rehang the belts in each locker.

“Not too bad,” he said about the punishment.

Meanwhile, if Matz gets a hit in his first at-bat, he will have sole possession of the franchise record for most consecutive at-bats with a hit to begin his career. He currently is tied with Kazuo Matsui.

SUNDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:

  • Matt Harvey allowed three runs on seven hits and five walks in five innings and the Mets lost to the Dodgers 4-3 on Saturday. Zack Greinke threw seven scoreless innings to lower his MLB-leading ERA to 1.48. The Mets pulled within a run in the ninth on Juan Lagares’ sacrifice fly. Curtis Granderson struck out to end the game with the tying run on first base. Afterward, Harvey said he needs to make adjustments because he is not used to pitching with two extra days of rest between starts. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.

  • Ken Davidoff in the Post profiles 2014 first-round pick Michael Conforto, who is hitting .325 with three homers and 19 RBIs in 120 at-bats since a promotion to Double-A Binghamton. General manager Sandy Alderson said Friday that Conforto will not be promoted to the majors in the “near term.” Said Conforto: “The front office is going to do what they deem is best for the team. All I can control is what I do on the field and the way I show up every day. That was kind of the attitude I took every day when I was at Oregon State.” Davidoff in the Post also catches up with former first-round pick Gavin Cecchini.

  • Anthony Recker produced his seventh homer in 13 Triple-A games, but Albuquerque beat Las Vegas 10-2. Cecchini produced a grand slam as Binghamton beat Portland 5-2. St. Lucie rallied with three ninth-inning runs in a 5-3 loss to Fort Myers. Corey Oswalt took a scoreless effort into the eighth inning and Savannah beat Greenville 3-1. Matt Blackham tossed seven scoreless innings in Brooklyn’s 2-0 win against Williamsport. Read the full minor league recap here.

  • Steve Serby in the Post has a Q&A with Matz. On his NHL allegiance, Matz tells Serby: “I’m an Islanders fan. I grew up a Rangers fan, which is kind of weird. I’m kind of fickle with my sports teams, but I used to love hockey growing up and then I kind of got out of it for a while. And then when I did my rehab in 2010 for my elbow, that’s where the Islanders would do their rehab. So I met like Mark Streit, who was with the Islanders at the time, and Kyle Okposo, and some other guys. I went to a couple of games that year and kind of got into the Islanders.” Read a preview of Matz’s start at Dodger Stadium in Newsday and at MLB.com.

  • John Smoltz tells the Daily News that even Harvey is susceptible to a period of struggles while returning from Tommy John surgery.

  • Manager Terry Collins expects Jenrry Mejia will address teammates when he returns on Tuesday from an 80-game PED suspension. Read more in Newsday and at MLB.com.

  • Steven Marcus in Newsday speaks with experts about the merits of surgery to treat spinal stenosis vs. more conservative treatment.

  • Columnist Denis Hamill in the Daily News weighs in on the plight of a Mets fan.

  • Columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News suggests Alderson could learn from 1969, when the Mets acquired Donn Clendenon in mid-June en route to the title.

  • From the bloggers … Mets Report suggests that with Collins getting a temporary vote of confidence, Alderson is putting it on himself to bring in some hitting help.

BIRTHDAYS: Jeff Innis turns 53.

TWEET OF THE DAY:

YOU’RE UP: How will Matz do in his second career start?