Morning Briefing: Can Dice-K lock up 5th?


FIRST PITCH: One week from Opening Day, the Mets are winding down activity in Florida.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, with the pressure on him to claim the fifth-starter’s role, opposes St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Shelby Miller at 1:10 p.m. Monday at Tradition Field (SNY).

Monday’s news reports:

• Matsuzaka has been expected to be the fifth starter, but Jenrry Mejia is providing staunch competition. Mejia limited the Washington Nationals to one run on two hits and a walk in five innings Sunday.

There are business factors perhaps influencing the decision. Those factors potentially include the organization being able to delay Mejia’s arbitration eligibility by a year if he remains in the minors for the first month of the season.

A resolution should be known soon. The Mets would need to pay Matsuzaka $100,000 on Tuesday at noon to retain him if they do not guarantee him an Opening Day roster spot by then.

Read more on Mejia and Matsuzaka in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and MLB.com.

• The Mets officially released Kyle Farnsworth after informing him he would not make the Opening Day roster. Still, the Mets may re-sign Farnsworth within a couple of days, after Farnsworth has the opportunity to see if any other teams are interested. Read more in the Record and MLB.com.

John Lannan began his introduction to the bullpen Sunday with a 1-2-3 inning against the Nats. Lannan is projected to join a relief corps that also includes Bobby Parnell, Jose Valverde, Vic Black, Jeurys Familia, Carlos Torres and Scott Rice. Read more in the Post and Star-Ledger.

Jonathon Niese is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Monday, one week after receiving a cortisone shot in his left elbow to address inflammation. The Mets hope Niese pitches in two minor-league games, then is activated from the disabled list April 6 to face the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field. Read more in the Daily News and Star-Ledger.

Ike Davis departed a split-squad game against the Atlanta Braves at ESPN Wide World of Sports after four innings experiencing fatigue but uninjured, Sandy Alderson said.

Daniel Murphy (right calf) went 0-for-3 and flipped a ball between his legs to first base in time to record an out in his first Grapefruit League game in a week. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

Curtis Granderson had a tiebreaking two-run homer against Drew Storen and the Mets beat the Nats, 3-1, at Tradition Field. In the other split-squad game, Juan Lagares walked and scored the lone run in a 4-1 loss to Freddy Garcia and the Braves at Disney.

From the bloggers … Joe D. at Metsmerized writes that the Mejia decision will be a litmus test for Alderson and his seriousness about a 90-win season. … Rising Apple also suggests logic dictates Mejia as the fifth starter.

BIRTHDAYS: Valverde turns 36.


YOU’RE UP: Would it be a travesty if Daisuke Matsuzaka beats out Jenrry Mejia for a spot in the rotation?