Morning Briefing: And down the stretch ...


FIRST PITCH: The season is down to single digits.

The Mets have nine games remaining in their 2013 campaign, beginning with tonight’s 7:05 matchup between Dillon Gee (11-10, 3.47 ERA) and right-hander Tyler Cloyd (2-5, 5.06) at Citizens Bank Park.

At 69-84, the Mets currently would pick eighth in the draft.

The bad news?

If the Mets finish with a little surge, they could end up outside of the 10 worst records and have an unprotected pick. That means, if they sign an elite free agent, they would have to forfeit their first-round pick, which they have been averse to doing under Sandy Alderson and Paul DePodesta.

Right now, the first unprotected pick belongs to the San Francisco Giants. And their record, 71-83, is only 1½ games better than the Mets.

Saturday’s news reports:

David Wright did not outwardly show any rust in his first game since Aug. 2. The captain homered on the first pitch at which he swung, delivering a two-run homer against Cole Hamels. And the Mets held on to beat the Phillies, 6-4, in Friday’s series opener. Wright moved into sole possession of second place on the franchise’s all-time home run list at 221, passing Mike Piazza. Terry Collins said Friday afternoon that he hoped Wright would play in eight of the final 10 games as the third baseman returns from a strained right hamstring.

Read recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Times, Star-Ledger, Record and MLB.com.

Lucas Duda appears headed to winter ball in Venezuela, although no deal is finalized.

Jordany Valdespin and Cesar Puello’s 50-game suspensions related to Biogenesis will be fully served within days. Because the Mets have the 40-man roster room, the team intends to continue to carry Valdespin into the offseason.

• Shortstop Wilfredo Tovar joined the Mets on Friday after traveling from his native Venezuela. The intention is to get the righty-hitting Tovar his first major league start Sunday, against southpaw Cliff Lee. Read more in the Post.

Wilmer Flores may get a second major league start at second base Sunday. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Chris Jones in ESPN The Magazine speaks with Tim Byrdak about his motivation to return to the majors after requiring shoulder surgery.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear reflects on how many Giants fans and so few Mets fans came to be at Citi Field this past week. … John Delcos at Mets Report suggests Wright’s return is partly a thank you to the fans.

BIRTHDAYS: Mets relievers Scott Rice and Greg Burke celebrate birthdays today. Rice is 32. Burke is 31. … Infielder Joaquin Arias, now with San Francisco, turns 29.


YOU’RE UP: What should the Mets do with Jordany Valdespin once his suspension is served?