Extra effort may put Cespedes on MVP track

Mets' best hitter spends hours in the cage, honing his skill

Extra effort may put Cespedes on MVP track

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- It was 8:34 on a Sunday morning, Florida's coastal air still refrigerated, when Yoenis Cespedes followed a narrow corridor out of the Mets' clubhouse for a cage session. He grabbed a 42-ounce bat, added a weighted donut to it and used it like to pendulum to stretch his back and shoulders.

As assistant hitting coach Pat Roessler fed him baseballs on a tee, Cespedes moved at quarter-speed, lofting each of them to the upper-right corner of the cage's netting. He stepped away, dropping the donut with a clank, then started swinging the 2 1/2-pound bat with only his right arm. His left arm. Both. His motion remained rhythmic. Quietly, the cage's netting swished as each ball met it.

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Familia suspended 15 games by MLB

Familia suspended 15 games by MLB

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Mets closer Jeurys Familia was suspended for 15 games by Major League Baseball on Wednesday for violating the league's Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. Familia's suspension will begin on Opening Day.

The suspension stems from Familia's Oct. 31 arrest on a simple assault charge. Prosecutors later dropped the charges, and Familia did not stand trial.

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Matz won't be ready to start season

Left-hander awaiting results of MRI on sore left elbow

Matz won't be ready to start season

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets starter Steven Matz's last chance at a roster spot evaporated Wednesday, when he went for an MRI on his sore left elbow. Manager Terry Collins said he does not expect Matz, who has been nursing a tender elbow for the past week, to make the Opening Day roster.

"He still feels it," Collins said. "We thought it would be important to get it looked at."

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lagares improving, could be ready for opener

Outfielder might play in Thursday's intrasquad game

Lagares improving, could be ready for opener

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Continuing his rapid improvement from a left oblique strain, Mets center fielder Juan Lagares said Wednesday that he expects he'll be ready for Opening Day. That is a reversal from what the team initially feared when Lagares suffered the injury.

"Right now," Lagares said late Wednesday morning, "I feel good."

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Montero delivers in big audition vs. Braves

Montero delivers in big audition vs. Braves

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Josh Collmenter prepared to serve as the Braves' long reliever and Rafael Montero provided another glimpse of why he could be an asset in the Mets' bullpen this year. But it was an ugly ninth inning that enabled New York to gain a 2-2 tie against Atlanta on Wednesday at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex.

Chad Sobotka issued three ninth-inning walks, including one to Tim Tebow, before being replaced by Caleb Dirks, who uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Kevin Kaczmarski to race home with the game-tying run.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

deGrom, Harvey to follow Thor in rotation

deGrom, Harvey to follow Thor in rotation

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets announced their opening-series rotation on Wednesday, revealing that Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey will follow Noah Syndergaard against the Braves at Citi Field.

After Syndergaard opens the Mets' season on Monday opposite Braves right-hander Julio Teheran, deGrom will face former teammate Bartolo Colon two days later. Harvey will then wrap up the three-game series opposite left-hander Jaime Garcia on Thursday.

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gsellman among top prospect performers

Gsellman among top prospect performers

Mets' No. 5 prospect Robert Gsellman, who is likely to earn a spot in the Mets' rotation, put together another strong start as he continues to impress in Spring Training. Matt Adams tagged Gsellman for a three-run homer, but otherwise the right-hander was lights out.

The 23-year-old struck out six and gave up three runs on five hits in six innings, putting his Spring Training ERA at 2.31 through 23 1/3 innings.

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William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: Where will Conforto start season?

Mets beat reporter Anthony DiComo answers fans' questions

Inbox: Where will Conforto start season?

In your opinion, what's the best/smartest way for the Mets to handle Michael Conforto?
-- @ajmay21

I'm not a skilled enough scout to determine if Conforto is better served playing every day at Triple-A Las Vegas or receiving scant at-bats off the Mets' bench. Certainly, the club is committed to using Jay Bruce as its everyday right fielder, making those the two realistic options for Conforto. That may be unpopular with fans, but Bruce is coming off a 33-homer, 99-RBI season and he's making $13 million this year. Even if the Mets ultimately want to trade him, they need to play him now lest his value crater.

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mets remaining coy about Gsellman's role

After turning in 2.31 spring ERA, righty will likely make rotation

Mets remaining coy about Gsellman's role

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Even after Robert Gsellman capped his strong Grapefruit League showing Tuesday with a quality start, delivering six innings of three-run ball in a 3-3 tie with the Cardinals, Mets manager Terry Collins remained coy regarding Gsellman's future. Referring to Gsellman only as one of the Mets' top seven starting pitchers, Collins stopped short of officially naming him to the rotation.

But Collins did admit that Gsellman will be on the team, one way or another. And if the right-hander's 2.31 spring ERA -- tops among Mets starters -- is any indication, Gsellman should be in the starting five when the Mets announce it later this week.

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Yo backs Gsellman with bat, dazzling catch

Yo backs Gsellman with bat, dazzling catch

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Yoenis Cespedes flashed both power and leather, while Matt Adams added to his impressive spring resume Tuesday in the Mets' 3-3 tie with the Cardinals at First Data Field.

Cespedes tripled, singled and scored a run for the Mets, finishing 2-for-3 to wrap up his Grapefruit League with a .396 batting average. The loudest cheers for Cespedes occurred when he leapt near the left-field wall to rob Greg Garcia of extra bases in the fifth.

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Harper, Harvey have a laugh

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Harper, Harvey have a laugh

Bryce Harper and Matt Harvey were hanging out before the Nationals-Mets Spring Training matchup on Monday, enjoying each other's company during some pregame frivolity. At one point, Harvey told a joke or made some sort of funny that, apparently, Harper enjoyed.

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Fans will get 15 Seconds of Fame at ballpark

New technology enables downloads of video clips from live telecasts

Fans will get 15 Seconds of Fame at ballpark

Brett and Chad Joshpe can still see the baseball coming down from the heavens one sublime day at Shea Stadium, closer and closer toward the brothers' seats down the right-field line.

If only they had a way back then to preserve their precious moment, like Major League Baseball fans of all 30 clubs are about to enjoy starting Opening Day for the first time in broadcast history. Imagine watching that play again and again, sharing the video clip on the other person's social media page and laughing together about the result.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB, hot dogs getting along Famously

Franco on hand as Nathan's strikes partnership, supports Play Ball

MLB, hot dogs getting along Famously

NEW YORK -- When he was a wide-eyed boy dreaming of becoming a Major League Baseball player, John Franco lived in the Marlboro Houses projects, Building 5, Apt. 7D -- a short walk to the wonders of the Coney Island boardwalk.

"Me and my buddies used to go to the beach all the time, hang out on the beach, on the way home stop at Nathan's, get a couple of hot dogs and then ride the rides in Coney Island," the Mets legend said on Tuesday. "It's very dear to me -- it reminds me of my childhood."

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

For starters, Mets' rotation best in business

Indians, Nationals, Cubs, Blue Jays round out top 5

For starters, Mets' rotation best in business

Let's celebrate this final lead-up to Opening Day by doing what we baseball fans do best -- arguing!

Each day through Friday, I'm going to present my personal top five in the following categories: rotations (today), lineups (Wednesday), bullpens (Thursday) and overall depth and flexibility (Friday). These are power rankings with admittedly little predictive value, because teams will inevitably rise and fall as injuries, trades and unexpected boosts or busts enter the equation. But for now, here are the five clubs with the best rotation alignments at the start of the season.

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Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rivera homers, Wheeler goes 5 scoreless

Rivera homers, Wheeler goes 5 scoreless

JUPITER, Fla. -- Zack Wheeler brought the heat, tossing five shutout innings while blazing a fastball that topped at 96 mph, and T.J. Rivera blasted a three-run homer, powering the Mets to a 5-0 win over the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium on Monday.

Wheeler, competing with Seth Lugo for New York's fifth-starter spot, scattered two hits and struck out three in his 70-pitch outing. Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler cruised for five innings, but an error in the sixth cleared the way for a five-run frame.

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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lugo hurts cause, allows 3 homers vs. Nats

Lugo hurts cause, allows 3 homers vs. Nats

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- If there were any lingering concerns with Nats right-hander Max Scherzer's status for the start of the season, his outing in Monday afternoon's 6-0 victory against a Mets split squad should help quell them. Scherzer struck out seven in five scoreless innings and was backed by a pair of Bryce Harper home runs (his seventh and eighth of the spring) and two solo shots by Trea Turner.

Scherzer did not allow a hit until the fifth inning and only surrendered two on the day as he mowed through the Mets' lineup, twice fanning former Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow, for 85 pitches in five innings.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rivera among top prospect performers

Mancini, Mullins combine for big day offensively

Rivera among top prospect performers

Orioles prospects Trey Mancini and Cedric Mullins combined to go 4-for-4 with four RBIs and three runs scored in Baltimore's 11-9 loss to the Red Sox on Monday.

Mancini, the Orioles' No. 5 prospect, scored two runs and drove in two more, while Mullins, who replaced Mancini in the eighth inning, drove in two runs as well.

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William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Wheeler gives Mets even more to think about

Wheeler gives Mets even more to think about

JUPITER, Fla. -- There may have been nothing Zack Wheeler could have done Monday to convince the Mets that, despite an uneven spring and the complications of his innings limit, he deserves a spot in the Opening Day rotation.

But if that door was open even a crack for Wheeler, he did his best to take a sledgehammer to it. Saving his best Grapefruit League outing for last, Wheeler held the Marlins scoreless over five efficient innings in a 5-0 win at Roger Dean Stadium. As Seth Lugo served up a quartet of runs to the Nationals a few dozen miles north in Port St. Lucie, Wheeler offered the Mets an impassioned closing argument.

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rotation depth may be Mets' goal at Deadline

Expected to make 3rd straight postseason run, NY may need backup if a starter falters

Rotation depth may be Mets' goal at Deadline

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- If the elbow tightness affecting Steven Matz this month reminded the Mets of anything, it's that pitching depth is paramount. The Mets already knew that, of course, after leaning on Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo last summer when Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Matz faltered.

But the Mets don't have as much obvious depth this season. Though they run seven-deep with quality big league starters, from their top four to Gsellman, Lugo and Zack Wheeler, the drop-off after that bunch is noticeable. And for a Mets team that used 12 starting pitchers last summer, it could quickly become relevant.

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Harvey hits 97 mph in best spring start

Harvey hits 97 mph in best spring start

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Don't be fooled: Matt Harvey was well aware of his flagging spring velocity and what people thought about it. Knowing that, Mets manager Terry Collins figured Harvey was determined to show off on Sunday, dialing his heater up to a monthly high of 97 mph in the Mets' 8-2 win over the Braves.

Perhaps some part of Harvey wanted to prove it to himself, also.

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lagares feels 'way better' day after injury

Lagares feels 'way better' day after injury

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Though Juan Lagares won't know his fate for certain until he undergoes an MRI early this week, the Mets outfielder woke up Sunday with his left oblique feeling "way better than yesterday." Lagares had strained the muscle in the third inning of Saturday's game against the Braves.

"I know I feel something, but it's not real bad," Lagares said.

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Harvey goes 6 strong, Reyes bangs 3 hits

Harvey goes 6 strong, Reyes bangs 3 hits

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Matt Harvey delivered six strong innings in his best outing of the spring on Sunday, leading the Mets to an 8-2 win over the Braves at First Data Field.

Harvey, who came into the afternoon 0-4 with a 7.30 ERA, topped out at 97 mph early in the afternoon. Though his velocity decreased throughout the day, Harvey maintained a low- to mid-90s fastball while holding the Braves to five hits and two runs. He struck out four.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

deGrom sets sights on 200 innings

Starter works six-plus frames in Minor League outing

deGrom sets sights on 200 innings

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Jacob deGrom looked to his left and to his right, down a row of lockers reserved for Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler.

"It's not easy to go out there and throw 200 innings -- I don't think anybody here has, not including playoffs," deGrom said, nodding toward the lockers. "So that's kind of the next thing for us, to get out there and make the 35 starts and get to that 200 mark."

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Conforto goes deep, Montero fires 5 strong

Conforto goes deep, Montero fires 5 strong

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Michael Conforto homered before R.A. Dickey settled into a groove and Rafael Montero provided five strong innings as the Mets claimed a 3-0 win over the Braves on Saturday afternoon at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex.

Before having to exit in the third inning with a strained left oblique muscle, Juan Lagares opened the game with a triple and scored on a passed ball. Conforto added to Dickey's early frustration when he drilled a 2-0 fastball deep over the right-center field wall to provide a two-run cushion before a pitch was thrown by Montero, who scattered four hits over five scoreless innings.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

d'Arnaud focuses on run game in Minors appearance

d'Arnaud focuses on run game in Minors appearance

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Travis d'Arnaud understands the reality that his grip on the Mets' catching job is tenuous. He is not deaf to manager Terry Collins' recent assertion that backup Rene Rivera has a strong chance to start over him on Opening Day. And if that happens?

"I'm going to feel exactly how I have felt, and I will always feel," d'Arnaud said. "Whatever the team thinks is going to get us to the World Series, I'm in."

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Syndergaard fans five in next-to-last start

Syndergaard fans five in next-to-last start

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Derek Fisher stole three bases and scored the Astros' first run off Noah Syndergaard on Friday, leading Houston to a 2-0 win over the Mets at First Data Field.

Running at will against Syndergaard, who allowed the most stolen bases in Major League Baseball by a wide margin last season, Fisher singled and swiped his first two bags in the second inning. Then he singled again, stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Reid Brignac's RBI single in the fifth.

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

SBs continue to haunt d'Arnaud, Syndergaard

Collins thinking about starting Rivera on Opening Day

SBs continue to haunt d'Arnaud, Syndergaard

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Offensively, Travis d'Arnaud has done everything the Mets have asked of him this spring. Featuring a swing stripped of its most complicated mechanical components, d'Arnaud is hitting .325 with two home runs in 41 Grapefruit League at-bats. His .963 OPS offers a glimpse of the type of slugger the Mets have long hoped he might become.

But in combining with Noah Syndergaard to allow four stolen bases in the Mets' 2-0 loss to the Astros on Friday, d'Arnaud fell to 0-for-12 throwing out runners this season. Afterward, manager Terry Collins suggested that light-hitting backup Rene Rivera is a strong candidate to start over d'Arnaud behind the plate on Opening Day.

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.