NEW YORK -- And now time to beat up on some cellar-dwellers. Well, maybe.
Can the New York Mets take advantage of a final homestand during which they play three teams -- the Minnesota Twins (55-92), Atlanta Braves (56-90) and Philadelphia Phillies (65-82) -- that are a combined 88 games under .500?
The Giants beat the Cardinals on Thursday in the opener to a four-game series. So the Mets trail San Francisco by one game and lead St. Louis by one game for the two wild-card spots.
Several other questions might be answered Friday:
Who will start on Sunday, the next time Rafael Montero's spot comes up? Terry Collins expressed reluctance to taking advantage of Thursday’s day off and using Noah Syndergaard on standard rest in the series finale against the Twins. Will Jacob deGrom or Steven Matz be ready? Or might deGrom and Matz appear, with one piggybacking the other since their innings capacities have not yet been rebuilt? One thing is certain: It won’t be Montero, who has a 7.36 ERA and has issued 14 walks in 11 innings in three starts since deGrom went on the shelf with forearm inflammation.
What was the result of Wilmer Flores' visit with team doctors Thursday? Flores suffered a right wrist injury and has been unable to swing a bat since his plate collision with A.J. Pierzynski on Saturday in Atlanta.
Did a day of reflection cause Collins to rethink things? Or will Jay Bruce remain in the starting lineup despite hitting only .192 with four homers and 11 RBIs in 130 at-bats since arriving in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds?
Will Rene Rivera start for a third consecutive game after twice throwing out would-be base stealers in the series finale in Washington? Or does Collins go back to Travis d'Arnaud, who is hitting only .253/.309/.332 this season?
Will the Mets set the franchise record for homers in a single season? The Mets have 197 long balls in 2016. The franchise record of 200 was established in 2006.
If David Wright is at Citi Field on Friday, which has been his practice for home games, will he disclose whether he actually has been cleared to advance beyond walking for physical activity? Wright recently had his three-month post-surgery examination in Los Angeles with Dr. Robert Watkins, who had performed the procedure to repair the ruptured disk. Wright isn’t going to play this season, but he was scheduled to learn during the visit whether the bone has sufficiently healed to allow for additional exercise beyond walking.
How soon will Juan Lagares and Lucas Duda rejoin the Mets? Collins wants Lagares back as a defensive-replacement option, even if his surgically repaired left thumb is not quite ready to hit major league pitching. Duda, who last appeared with the Mets on May 20, had started taking batting practice in Port St. Lucie, Florida. And with no minor-league games available, he appears close to returning from a stress fracture in his lower back, barring another setback.
FRIDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:
An National League executive speculates to Mike Puma in the Post that Yoenis Cespedes could be looking at a four-year, $100 million contract at a minimum, assuming he opts out five days after the World Series.
Jeff Carlisle at ESPNFC speaks with Mike Piazza about his Italian soccer club and learning the ropes as an owner. “I wanted to reinvent myself,” Piazza tells Carlisle. “I tell people, 'Never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.’ I’m never afraid to fail, and that's something I've done obviously with my baseball career. With that said, I have a lot of challenges, but I have a lot of great people working for me, and everybody seems to be more invested in our success than our failure. I know we're going to fall down and make some mistakes, but generally we have a good framework here.”
Tim Tebow begins his pro baseball career in the fall instructional league Monday in Port St. Lucie. “I think we have to get down there to really feel it out and start getting to work,” Tebow tells Anthony Rieber in Newsday. “And then I think we’ll be able to figure out more of a plan after we get a couple weeks of work in.”
Does the success of Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman lessen the likelihood the Mets re-sign Colon, who turns 44 next season? Stay tuned. But Colon reiterated in the Daily News that he would like to remain with the Mets for 2017. “I hope I am here,” Colon told the newspaper through an interpreter.
Marc Carig in Newsday notes the Mets have successfully reinvented their team out of necessity since last year’s World Series, adding players such as Jose Reyes, James Loney and Rivera and promoting pitchers such as Lugo and Gsellman. “We’ve got a good group in the clubhouse. It’s a new group,” general manager Sandy Alderson told Carig. “Very few of our position players played in the World Series last year. Fewer and fewer of our pitchers played in the World Series. So I think it’s been a surprising transformation.”
BIRTHDAYS: Desi Relaford turns 43. ... Orel Hershiser is 58. ... Chris "The Animal" Carter is 34.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
@AdamRubinESPN have you run that OPIM101 sensitivity?
— monty (@s_montalto) September 16, 2016
YOU’RE UP: Who should the starting pitcher be on Sunday?