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Morning Briefing: Logan Verrett gets another rotation audition

PHILADELPHIA -- New York Mets right-hander Logan Verrett does not have a ton of rope to prove he merits occupying Matt Harvey’s rotation spot for the foreseeable future. So it would behoove Verrett to perform well Saturday against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Verrett (3-6, 4.34 ERA) opposes right-hander Jerad Eickhoff at 7:05 p.m. ET at Citizens Bank Park.

Verrett allowed five runs on four hits and five walks in 6 2/3 innings against the Washington Nationals last weekend in his first opportunity subbing for Harvey, who is due to undergo season-ending surgery in St. Louis to address thoracic outlet syndrome.

GM Sandy Alderson has cited Gabriel Ynoa and Sean Gilmartin as options at Triple-A Las Vegas should the Mets need to find an alternative to Verrett, although Gilmartin just allowed six runs in five innings against the Iowa Cubs on Friday.

The Mets also will explore trade options, although acquiring a reliever is more likely if team officials pull the trigger on a deal.

Meanwhile, Yoenis Cespedes likely will remain out of the starting lineup on Saturday. Cespedes has been sidelined since departing a game eight days ago with a strained right quadriceps. He felt something with the muscle while trying to run the bases before the series opener in Philly.

“We’re going to be careful,” manager Terry Collins said.

Noah Syndergaard is expected to throw a 15- to 20-pitch bullpen session before Saturday’s game. Syndergaard expects to have no lingering effects in his first mound activity since departing his final first-half start with what has been labeled arm fatigue. Syndergaard is due to face the Chicago Cubs this Tuesday at Wrigley Field.

“It feels like I have a new arm,” Syndergaard maintained after throwing on flat ground at 90 feet on Friday at Citizens Bank Park.

SATURDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:

  • Juan Lagares and Neil Walker homered and the bullpen recorded the final 10 outs as the Mets beat the Phillies, 5-3, in the second-half opener. The Mets remained six games behind the first-place Washington Nationals. Bartolo Colon retired the first 13 batters he faced, but ran out of gas and allowed three unearned runs in the sixth. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Record, and at NJ.com and MLB.com.

  • Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington conceded Friday that the trade of Walker for Jonathon Niese has been a bust for them. Niese now has been assigned to the bullpen by Pittsburgh. The Pirates are looking to trade Niese, and the Mets -- while not eager -- are not dismissive of reacquiring him, Marc Carig writes in Newsday. Walker now has 16 homers, already matching his total last season with the Pirates. Read more in the Post.

  • Cuban infielder Yulieski Gourriel signed a five-year, $47.5 million deal with the Houston Astros. The Mets held a private workout for Gourriel last month, but recently indicated they did not intend to sign him. Read more in the Post.

  • On a Hall of Fame conference call on Friday in advance of his induction in Cooperstown, Mike Piazza was asked by former New York Times national writer Murray Chass about performance-enhancing drugs. Asked directly if he had used steroids, Piazza replied: “I’ve addressed that many times in the past, sir. Thank you.” Read more in the Daily News and Newsday.

  • Lucas Duda is expected to begin baseball activity after the weekend, according to Collins. Duda landed on the disabled list on May 23 with a stress fracture in his lower back.

  • Rehabbing Jim Henderson has tossed a scoreless inning on back-to-back days with Triple-A Las Vegas, signaling he may be close to activation from the disabled list.

  • Walker tells columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post: “We feel we are a playoff team.”

  • Paul Schwedelson in the Philly Daily News tells the story of brothers Erik Goeddel of the Mets and Tyler Goeddel of the Phillies.

  • Read more on Cespedes’ balky quadriceps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Journal and at MLB.com.

  • Read more on Syndergaard’s arm status in the Post.

  • Michael Conforto had a pair of doubles and upped his Pacific Coast League batting average to .333 in Las Vegas’ 7-2 loss at Iowa. Maikis De La Cruz had a walk-off RBI single in the 13th to lift Binghamton to a 3-2 win against Hartford. Demoted Rafael Montero allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks in six innings in his first Double-A game since 2013. P.J. Conlon took a perfect-game bid two outs into the sixth inning and St. Lucie beat Daytona, 8-1. Jose Maria and Franklin Correa had four RBIs apiece in Kingsport’s 15-3 rout of Bristol. Read the full minor league recap here.

  • From the bloggers … Mets Report wonders if the team should reacquire Niese.

BIRTHDAYS: Norm Sherry turns 85.

TWEET OF THE DAY:

YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets be rooting for the Nationals to beat the Pirates this weekend since the wild card appears a more realistic option to reach the postseason?