Nieuwenhuis sizzles in Grapefruit League opener

Nieuwenhuis sizzles in Grapefruit League opener

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Kirk Nieuwenhuis keyed the Mets' offensive attack with a four-hit performance that included a first-inning RBI single off Wandy Rodriguez in Wednesday's 8-2 win over the Braves.

Mets manager Terry Collins stressed the importance of Nieuwenhuis' need for a big spring after the game.

"I thought he had a good day," Collins said. "It was good for him. He's fighting for a big spot on this club. He's out of options, so it was nice to see him have a big day."

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gee laughs off rumors, shakes off rust in first spring start

Right-hander prepping to continue as a starter or take on bullpen role

Gee laughs off rumors, shakes off rust in first spring start

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Dillon Gee saw last week's Jurickson Profar rumors, too. He checks Twitter from time to time. He's also privy to a fair bit of inside info. So when Gee spoke to his agent about an unrelated matter on the night the rumors first surfaced, he recalled, "We just kind of laughed about it."

Those rumors, as Mets general manager Sandy Alderson confirmed the next day, were the stuff of fantasy baseball. But at some point this spring, one of the longest-tenured Mets also understands there's a real chance -- however slim -- that he could be traded.

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Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Flores leaves game early as precaution after HBP

Flores leaves game early as precaution after HBP

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- For a moment, it seemed as if all of Wilmer Flores' offseason work might come undone in an instant. But Flores escaped without major damage after being hit by a pitch in the fifth inning of Wednesday's 8-2 Mets' win over the Braves, leaving him chuckling at the attention -- and the Mets breathing a collective sigh of relief.

Flores, who shed significant weight two winters ago, and continued working on his conditioning this offseason in Port St. Lucie, Fla., left Wednesday's Grapefruit League game after Matt Capps hit him on the right pinkie finger with a pitch. Though Flores felt little pain, the Mets removed him as a precaution. He finished 1-for-2 with a single and a fielding error.

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Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Billy Bean

Opening up about Mets visit, Murphy comments

Inclusion is about everyone, even those who might disagree with the message

Opening up about Mets visit, Murphy comments

Tuesday was one of the more compelling days I've had since being named MLB's Ambassador of Inclusion. It included the opportunity to get back in uniform for the first time in ages at the behest of one of the most respected general managers in the game, and it also afforded me the first chance to respond to an active player speaking openly and honestly about me and my role in baseball.

Some background: After making a presentation at the GM Meetings in November, Mets GM Sandy Alderson approached me about the possibility of coming to visit his club during Spring Training. And then, at the Winter Meetings a month later, he doubled down on that offer and asked me if I would consider suiting up and "playing" with the Mets for a few Spring Training games. I was stunned.

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Billy Bean is Major League Baseball's Ambassador for Inclusion. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Syndergaard owns up to clubhouse lunch gaffe

Mets rookie says lesson learned, clears air with captain Wright

Syndergaard owns up to clubhouse lunch gaffe

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- A day after Mets veterans David Wright and Bobby Parnell confronted Noah Syndergaard for eating in the clubhouse during a game, the rookie apologized for actions that he called "straight-up ignorance on my part."

"It was just really a mistake on my part," Syndergaard said. "It was a learning experience for me. I should have been on the bench."

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Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Wheeler ready for Opening Day assignment if called upon

Wheeler ready for Opening Day assignment if called upon

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- A year ago, with less than a year of service time under his belt and both Matt Harvey and Jon Niese injured, Zack Wheeler openly pined for the Opening Day starting assignment that ultimately went to Dillon Gee. Manager Terry Collins came away pleased with his young starter's gumption.

Fast forward a year, and Wheeler suddenly is one of the favorites to earn an Opening Day nod. Coming off a season in which he went 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA, posting a 2.71 mark over his final 16 outings, Wheeler started one half of Tuesday's intrasquad game and could line up to take the hill to begin the Mets' regular season, as well.

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Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Wright, Niese feel good after intrasquad game

Wright, Niese feel good after intrasquad game

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- No one scored, some innings ended with less than three outs and both teams made substitutions with impunity. But it was still baseball. The Mets' "Blue" and "Orange" teams played to a 0-0 tie in Tuesday's intrasquad game, an annual tradition leading up to the start of the Grapefruit League season.

"The adrenaline started flowing today," said Team Orange starter Jon Niese, who struck out three and walked one over a pair of hitless, scoreless innings at Tradition Field. "All the hard work that you've done, you kind of find out where you're at once the adrenaline gets going. It's been a while since I've warmed up before a game and felt that good."

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Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Alderson expects Gee on Opening Day roster

Alderson expects Gee on Opening Day roster

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Despite continued speculation that the Mets could trade a shortstop between now and Opening Day, general manager Sandy Alderson reiterated Tuesday that his club has had little talk with other teams. The Mets expect Dillon Gee, in particular, to break camp as part of the roster.

"Yeah, I think that's fair to say," Alderson said. "I think most clubs, including ours, are focused on what's going on in camp and evaluating what they already have. If there's going to be any significant trade talk, I think typically it's going to happen later in Spring Training, unless there's an injury of some sort. But by and large, I think that comes more in the second half of Spring Training."

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Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Syndergaard gets some tough love from Wright

Syndergaard gets some tough love from Wright

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Noah Syndergaard learned a rookie lesson the hard way during the Mets' intrasquad game Tuesday at Tradition Field.

As the middle innings played out on the main stadium field, Syndergaard, who was not scheduled to pitch, ducked inside to grab lunch. David Wright, who started at third base and was already out of the game, approached Syndergaard at the table and scolded him, according to multiple reports, telling the rookie that he should be on the bench supporting his teammates. Closer Bobby Parnell then grabbed Syndergaard's plate of food and threw it into the trash.

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Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB ambassador Bean speaks to Mets about inclusion

MLB ambassador Bean speaks to Mets about inclusion

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Billy Bean could have been any coach or instructor on Tuesday morning, throwing long toss with Matt den Dekker or pitching batting practice to John Mayberry Jr. But he was not. Bean was serving as Major League Baseball's ambassador of inclusion, spending the morning as an instructor after meeting with the entire organization prior to the workout.

The visit was the brain child of general manager Sandy Alderson, who approached Bean at the Winter Meetings and asked if he would attend camp. Originally, Alderson wanted Bean, an openly gay former Major Leaguer, to play in a Spring Training game, but Bean did not want to take away any time or attention from the players in camp.

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Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sharp Harvey focuses on curve in live BP session

Mets batters largely unsuccessful as ace returns to original out pitch

Sharp Harvey focuses on curve in live BP session

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- This early in spring, live batting practice is an exercise inherently stacked against hitters. David Wright calls facing a game-ready pitcher "impossible" at a time when he and his peers are simply trying to rediscover their timing at the plate.

So it was entirely unsurprising to Wright when Matt Harvey unleashed a tumbling curveball Monday and the third baseman not only swung through it, but dropped his shoulder, put his head down and half-whiffed, half-walked out of the batter's box.

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Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Wheeler, Niese to lead staffs in intrasquad game

Traditional tilt takes place a day before Mets begin Grapefruit League action

Wheeler, Niese to lead staffs in intrasquad game

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Zack Wheeler and Jon Niese will start Tuesday's Mets intrasquad game at Tradition Field, an annual event in advance of Wednesday's Grapefruit League opener. Tuesday's scrimmage will begin at 12 p.m. ET, with tickets available at the gate for $6. All proceeds go to charity.

Niese is set to anchor a "Team Blue" pitching staff that also includes Rafael Montero, Carlos Torres, Vic Black and Sean Gilmartin, a Rule 5 Draft pick trying to win a spot at the back end of New York's bullpen. Wheeler will lead a "Team Orange" staff that includes Buddy Carlyle, Jeurys Familia and closer Jenrry Mejia.

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Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Former big leaguer McKnight dies; played for Mets and O's

Former big leaguer McKnight dies; played for Mets and O's

Former Major Leaguer Jeff McKnight passed away on Sunday after a 10-year battle with leukemia. He was 52.

McKnight spent parts of six seasons in the Majors, with the Mets and Orioles. He primarily played the infield but logged time at every position except center field and pitcher. He hit .233/.284/.304 through 218 career games.

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Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Utility man Campbell ready to step in anywhere

Primarily a corner infielder, backup is adding catching to repertoire this spring

Utility man Campbell ready to step in anywhere

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Before full-squad workouts officially began last month, Mets jack-of-everything Eric Campbell spent his mornings with the organization's catchers, learning to play that position. Campbell will serve as the Mets' emergency catcher this season, should something happen to both Travis d'Arnaud and Anthony Recker in the same game.

Campbell will also serve as the Mets' backup first baseman and third baseman, moonlight as an outfielder and perhaps even a middle infielder. Though he appears to have been somewhat marginalized by the team's offseason acquisition of outfielder John Mayberry Jr., another right-handed-hitting bench bat with even more power, Campbell is making up for it with versatility.

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Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Collins experimenting with Mets' outfield alignment

Skipper leaning toward playing Granderson in right, Cuddyer in left

Collins experimenting with Mets' outfield alignment

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- When Mets manager Terry Collins asked Curtis Granderson if he would prefer to play left or right field this season, Granderson shrugged. When Collins asked the same question to Michael Cuddyer, he received the same response. So Collins plans to use each player at both positions this spring, giving himself the best possible platform to make a decision.

Yet, Collins already knows which way he is leaning. Lauding Granderson's work in right field last season, the manager said he will use Granderson there unless Cuddyer -- a career right fielder who has not played left since 2006, and who has spent just 0.3 percent of his big league innings there -- proves incapable of making the switch.

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Duda could take swings early this week

Duda could take swings early this week

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets first baseman Lucas Duda's strained left intercostal muscle is showing improvement, lining him up to potentially swing a bat early this week. Once that happens, Duda will progress from swinging off a tee to soft toss drills, hitting in a cage and, finally, taking full batting practice.

Though Duda has spent time in the cage each day since suffering the injury in mid-February, he has been tracking pitches without swinging -- a way to keep his timing relatively sharp.

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MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Mets want to turn talk into results

Mets want to turn talk into results

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Some of the old-timers have told these Mets how special it can be.

For instance, Wally Backman and Tim Teufel.

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Figueroa's experiences will help his coverage of the Mets

Figueroa's experiences will help his coverage of the Mets

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Nelson Figueroa's baseball career has taken him from Brooklyn to Phoenix, to Philadelphia and Houston and points in between, as well as the Dominican Republic, Mexico and as far afield as Taiwan. At times, he was a successful Major League pitcher, experiencing some of the game's most emotional highs. At others, he was an afterthought, unable to crack a roster.

That's why Figueroa believes he will thrive at SNY as the replacement for Bob Ojeda as the network's primary pregame and postgame studio analyst. Years ago, SNY executive producer Curt Gowdy Jr. watched Figueroa conduct an interview and came away so impressed that he reached out to him, asking about the pitcher's post-playing career plans. Those seeds grew into a job almost immediately upon Figueroa's retirement.

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Long immersing himself in his work with Mets' hitters

Long immersing himself in his work with Mets' hitters

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Within the confines of the Mets' clubhouse, no one studies hitting more than Daniel Murphy. His own harshest critic, Murphy is aware of every nuance of his swing, which allows him to know when something is out of whack. He is aware of his strengths. He understands his weaknesses.

So Murphy was amazed when new Mets hitting coach Kevin Long sent him an email this winter offering a thorough breakdown of the video he watched on Murphy's swing. It was clear to the second baseman that Long had not just watched his tape. He had devoured it.

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MLB.com Columnist

Matthew Leach

Alderson talks baseball data at Sloan conference

Mets GM joined main baseball panel to discuss use of advanced metrics

Alderson talks baseball data at Sloan conference

BOSTON -- Mets general manager Sandy Alderson emphasized collaboration and communication as the keys for incorporating new ideas like defensive shifts and catcher framing at the annual Sloan Sports Analytics Conference on Saturday.

Alderson joined baseball analysts Dave Cameron, Dan Brooks, Ben Lindbergh and moderator Jonah Keri on the main baseball panel, called "Beating the Shift: Baseball Analytics in the Age of Big Data." He acknowledged that things are changing, but made it a point that players must get accustomed to utilizing new information.

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Matthew Leach is an editor and reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Young Mets spend leisure time at the rodeo

Young Mets spend leisure time at the rodeo

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Two months in Florida, spent thousands of miles away from friends and family, can force players to be creative with their free time. So when a group of young Mets -- including Jacob deGrom and Dillon Gee -- discovered a rodeo was taking place at the St. Lucie County Fair on Friday night, they did not need much convincing.

"They had ropin', saddle-riding broncs, bareback broncs, bull riding, barrel racing," said deGrom, who also attended last year. "Just a regular rodeo."

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Tejada brushes off Reyes' criticism

Tejada brushes off Reyes' criticism

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Ruben Tejada brushed aside criticism on Saturday from former teammate and mentor Jose Reyes, who told Newsday he was surprised Tejada has not done more to seize the Mets' shortstop job.

"I don't really pay attention to rumors," Tejada said. "If I tried to pay attention to everybody, it would make me crazy. So I take the good things about everybody and try to do my best here, and come here every day to work hard."

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Mets' Saturday workout forced indoors by rain

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Steady rain washed out much of the Mets' scheduled workout on Saturday, leaving players -- with four days until the Grapefruit League season begins -- scrambling to fit in their scheduled exercises.

Hitters worked in covered cages, while pitchers threw in an enclosed space. Many Mets also took part in workouts at the team's Barwis Methods training facility attached to Tradition Field.

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Harvey draws positive reviews after facing batters

Mets ace throws 43 pitches in first outing on mound vs. hitters since surgery

Harvey draws positive reviews after facing batters

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- As Terry Collins wrapped up his daily news conference following Friday's workout, the Mets manager was asked if Matt Harvey's first appearance on the mound in 18 months was a milestone.

"I'm going to wait until those guys in different-colored uniforms get in that batter's box," Collins said. "That will be a milestone for him."

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Steve Dorsey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Collins watching lefty bench bat competition closely

Nieuwenhuis, den Dekker competing for spot on Mets' 25-man roster

Collins watching lefty bench bat competition closely

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- There's a position battle that Mets manager Terry Collins is going to be watching closely for the next month -- the one involving left-handed hitters Matt den Dekker and Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

"One of those guys has got to be on our bench, so it's up to them to show us this spring what they can do," Collins said following Friday's workout at the Tradition Field Spring Training complex. "If at the end of Spring Training Matt den Dekker outplays [Nieuwenhuis], hey, we got to go with the best 25."

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Steve Dorsey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Murphy focused on task at hand with Mets

Murphy focused on task at hand with Mets

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Six and a half years ago, Daniel Murphy arrived in Houston as a little-known 13th-round Draft pick trying to help the Mets win a pennant race. He spent much of the next half-decade trying to prove he belonged -- first in the big leagues, then at second base. Consistently, Murphy defied the odds.

Yet while the Mets have always appreciated Murphy's old-school skill set and attitude, they never rewarded him with a long-term contract extension. Instead, Murphy enters this season on an $8 million arbitration settlement, with no guarantees beyond it.

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Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Harvey set for first spring start on March 6

Harvey set for first spring start on March 6

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Matt Harvey will take a significant step forward in his rehab from Tommy John surgery on March 6, when he is scheduled to make his first Grapefruit League start against the Tigers. It will be Harvey's first live game action since Aug. 24, 2013, also against Detroit.

Dillon Gee will open Grapefruit League play for the Mets on Wednesday, followed by Bartolo Colon and Harvey on March 5 and 6, respectively. Jacob deGrom and Matt Bowman will start the two halves of New York's split-squad games on March 7, Steven Matz will pitch March 8 against the Red Sox, Jon Niese will start March 9 and Zack Wheeler will go on March 10.

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Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Duda to be sidelined from swinging bat for a week

Duda to be sidelined from swinging bat for a week

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- What first appeared to be a minor left intercostal strain for Mets first baseman Lucas Duda is lingering. Duda, whom the Mets originally expected to miss only a few days of full-squad workouts, will instead refrain from swinging a bat for at least another week.

Duda strained the muscle taking swings earlier this month, prior to the official start of camp.

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Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.