Morning Briefing: Wally outta here?

FIRST PITCH: After an off-day, the Mets now open an interleague series tonight at Cleveland, with Zack Wheeler opposing former Mets first-round pick Scott Kazmir.

It will mark Kazmir’s first time facing his original organization.

“I guess you can say there will always be something there from it being the team that drafted me,” Kazmir told ESPNNewYork.com. “But it just feels like so long ago. I’m just concentrating on what I have to do and not really worried about too much of the significance of the game.”

Friday’s news reports:

• Mike Puma in the Post speculates that Las Vegas manager Wally Backman could decide to leave the organization if he is not offered a spot on Terry Collins’ 2014 staff.

• Puma in the Post revisits not signing Michael Bourn, who went to Cleveland on a four-year, $48 million deal, plus a $12 million vesting option for 2017. The Mets lucked into Marlon Byrd at $700,000 after deciding not to part with a draft pick for Bourn.

Bourn is hitting .262 with five homers, 39 RBIs and 21 steals and has a .315 on-base percentage in 490 plate appearances with the Indians.

“Where we sit right now, the answer is yeah,” manager Terry Collins told Puma about ending up better off having whiffed on Bourn. “But would Michael Bourn have made a difference in April? Come on. Maybe we wouldn’t be sitting where we are right now, so it’s a difficult thing to answer, because he was a good player, and we wanted him.

“We had high hopes. Going into the winter we thought we had a healthy Johan [Santana], we knew Matt Harvey was coming. Who knows? You put [Bourn] at the top of the order with Marlon Byrd and David [Wright] in the lineup, but we didn’t get him.”

Robert Carson suffered the loss for a second straight night as Las Vegas fell in an 0-2 hole in its best-of-five series with a 5-4 loss at Salt Lake. Binghamton also faces elimination after losing at Trenton, 2-1, Thursday night. Read the full minor league recap here.

Fangraphs.com looks at Juan Lagares’ outfield assists.

• Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger discusses fielding with Lucas Duda. Writes Castillo:

A couple hours before returning to where he feels most comfortable on the baseball diamond, Lucas Duda offered a brutally honest assessment of his defensive skills.

"I don’t think I’m a major league ... let me rephrase that," Duda said Wednesday in Atlanta, catching himself to avoid having a self-deprecating evaluation become a self-damning one. "I think I’m much better at first base than I am in the outfield. I’m a big guy. I’m slow. You can just tell by looking at me -- I’m a first baseman."

• Previewing the Wheeler-Kazmir matchup, Mike Kerwick in the Record notes Dan Warthen was Kazmir’s pitching coach for part of a season at Class A St. Lucie.

• The Mets need more power in their lineup, Marc Carig writes in Newsday.

• Kristie Ackert in the Daily News profiles Eric Young Jr., who is now part of one of five father-son combinations to each produce 30 steals in a season. The others: Sandy Alomar Sr. and Roberto Alomar, Bobby and Barry Bonds, Jose Cruz Sr. and Jose Cruz Jr., and Maury and Bump Wills.

• Auto shop owners near Citi Field who are being displaced through eminent domain laws are holding a hunger strike, according to the Queens Courier. Writes Melissa Chan:

The city has been urging shops to leave in order to make way for a $3 billion project to redevelop Willets Point, which includes cleaning up 23 acres of contaminated land and eventually constructing housing units and a mega mall near Citi Field. Developers need the City Council’s final approval to move Citi Field parking to Willets Point in order to construct a 1.4 million-square-foot shopping center west of the baseball stadium.

However, the Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises did not vote on the project during a September 3 hearing and is not expected to do so this month, sources said. Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, who represents the area, instead grilled city officials and developers for more answers and better relocation plans.

From the bloggers … Mark Berman at Blogging Mets looks at potential free-agent outfielders who could play at Citi Field in 2014.

BIRTHDAYS: One-time top outfield prospect Alex Escobar turns 35.


YOU’RE UP: Are you excited Zack Wheeler and Scott Kazmir line up? Or has too much time passed to make it meaningful?