- The Mets are bracing for the possibility that Jacob deGrom will require a stint on the disabled list, writes MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. That possibility, DiComo writes, is the reason that New York didn’t place deGrom on the paternity list for the birth of his son. Had deGrom gone on the paternity list, the Mets would’ve given up the ability to backdate a DL stint to the date of his most recent start. As such, if deGrom is placed on the disabled list, the move could be made retroactive to April 9.
- The Mets are set to recall righty Rafael Montero to provide some innings, as ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin reports (Twitter link). Once one of the team’s more promising young pitchers, the 25-year-old has struggled with shoulder issues recently and wasn’t penciled in at the major league level to start the year. He’s needed there now, though, because of Jacob deGrom’s lat issue and Steven Matz’s rough, 1 2/3-inning outing yesterday. Those two situations have led to some early questions, with an anonymous scout telling Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that Matz seemed in need of further Triple-A seasoning after his first start. Barring some undisclosed health issues or continued struggles, that seems rather premature, though it’s fair to note that Matz did scuffle a bit this spring — allowing 13 walks (though racking up 21 strikeouts) in his 23 2/3 innings in camp.
- Another past Tommy John recipient, Mets reliever Josh Edgin, began a rehab assignment Sunday with 2/3 of an inning at Class-A St. Lucie and is on track for an early May return, reports Anthony DiComo of MLB.com (Twitter link). The southpaw last saw action in 2014, when he served as a shutdown option for the Mets in compiling a 9.22 K/9 and 1.98 BB/9 to accompany a stingy 1.32 ERA in 27 1/3 innings.
The Mets will skip Jacob deGrom’s next turn in the rotation, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com writes. Logan Verett will get a spot start in his place. Mets manager Terry Collins says deGrom’s sore lat muscle has “improved, but it’s not enough.” The team has not placed deGrom on the disabled list, though, and deGrom says he and the team are merely “erring on the side of caution.” DeGrom showed diminished velocity in his first start of the season Friday (throwing mostly in the low 90s, rather than the mid 90s), but he got good results overall, and the Mets don’t believe his lack of velocity is connected to his lat trouble. Here’s more from the East divisions.
- Mets starter Jacob deGrom is dealing with a stiff lat muscle, as David Lennon of Newsday writes. The Mets removed him from yesterday’s game after just six innings and 76 pitches, and his velocity was off, at an average of 92.8 MPH after he averaged 94.9 last year. “We’ll be careful with it,” says Mets manager Terry Collins. “If he can’t throw his bullpen in a couple days, we’ll have to find someone to throw in his spot.” John Harper of the Daily News argues that the Mets should be cautious with deGrom, helping him avoid the fate of Steven Matz, who missed significant time last year due to a torn lat.
- Mets manager Terry Collins says that he will utilize a full-blown left field platoon of Michael Conforto and Juan Lagares, Marc Carig of Newsday reports (Twitter links). “We’re in a situation where we’re trying to win games,” said Collins. “This is not a time to develop players.” The Mets skipper added that it wasn’t just a matter of getting Lagares in for his glove, noting that he likes his bat against lefties.
- Star Mets righty Jacob deGrom only made it through 76 pitches in his first outing of the year and was pulled early with tightness in his lat. As Mike Puma of the New York Post reports, deGrom’s velocity was notably down from its usual mid-90s pace — which could be a result of the cool weather and lat issues. Of course, he was still plenty effective, and he isn’t currently set for an MRI, but there are still some warning signs and good reason to proceed with caution.
Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler, who is recovering from 2015 Tommy John surgery, will have a minor surgical procedure to remove an undissolved stitch that remains in his elbow, reports Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. The minor surgery will slow Wheeler’s recovery by about two weeks, Rubin notes, but it is not considered serious in nature. The lingering stitch was the lone issue that appeared on a recent MRI that Wheeler underwent as a checkup, and the test was otherwise “super clean,” per Rubin’s source. Wheeler’s target date for a big league return is July 1.
The Rays’ quest for a new stadium in the greater Tampa Bay area remains an important topic for the organization and the league. As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports, club owner Stuart Sternberg continues to assert a commitment to finding a way forward in Florida. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, meanwhile, said he’s putting his faith in Sternberg, saying: “as long as he’s committed, I think we — me and Major League Baseball — will remain committed to the market.” Manfred also addressed the matter of geography more generally, as Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports. He suggested that the priority is to figure out the outstanding ballpark difficulties of organizations in their current cities, before considering any expansion possibilities. “Sequentially, I think it’s important for Tampa Bay and Oakland to get their facility situations resolved before we move into a real active consideration of expansion,” said Manfred. Of course, that’s an important factor in maintaining leverage; as Manfred perhaps implicitly acknowledged in stating, “we feel it’s our obligation to have alternatives to consider in the event that a relocation becomes necessary.”
There was also some sad news out of St. Petersburg today, as Rays’ minority owner Lance Ringhaver was reportedly killed in a car accident yesterday, as the Tampa Bay Times reports. Sternberg issued a statement mourning the loss of the 76-year-old, and MLBTR joins in offering condolences to his family and the Rays organization.
- The Mets are likely to face ongoing questions of daily lineup construction with both Juan Lagares and Michael Conforto in line for playing time, as John Harper of the New York Daily News writes. Lagares appears to be back in good form while Conforto continues to show the promise he displayed in 2015, but Yoenis Cespedes is an everyday player and Curtis Granderson still seems lined up for the majority of the action in right. (Then, of course, there’s Alejandro De Aza.) For now, this seems like a good problem to have, but it certainly could lead to some tough decisions as the season goes along.
- Meanwhile, the Mets could face yet tougher issues with third baseman David Wright, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post explains. Wright’s movement in the infield and ability to keep pace at the plate while dealing with spinal stenosis remain in question, though of course the standout veteran will have every chance to battle through.
- Via MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (on Twitter), the Marlins say that they have placed an innings limit of about 180 on right-hander Jose Fernandez in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. The 23-year-old ace tossed 89 1/3 innings last season after returning in early July, though he was slowed late in the season by a biceps injury as well. Fernandez is slated to make his season debut tomorrow against the Tigers in Miami.
- As Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer points out, only three teams in the past decade have kept two Rule 5 Draft picks for the entirety of a season, but manager Pete Mackanin tells him that the Phillies are aiming to become the fourth by retaining both outfielder Tyler Goeddel and lefty Daniel Stumpf for the entire year. “They’ve both shown enough ability where they can be part of the future,” Mackanin told Gelb. “…It’s hard to turn away young talent and that’s what our goal is, to keep them.” For the time being, Goeddel will platoon with Cedric Hunter, per Gelb. And while Stumpf could initially be used as a situational lefty, the uncertainty that is permeating the Phillies’ bullpen gives each reliever a chance to see his role grow, he adds. Additionally, Gelb notes that while Carlos Ruiz got the nos on Opening Day, it’ll be the younger Cameron Rupp seeing the lion’s share of playing time behind the plate this year. Ruiz is earning $8.5MM in the final season of a three-year deal.
The Mets and veteran catcher Rene Rivera have agreed to a minor league deal, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). Rivera, 32, was released by the Rays last month after the Rays decided that Hank Conger and Curt Casali would comprise their primary catching tandem in 2016. The new agreement with New York marks a return to the Mets organization for Rivera, who spent the 2009 season playing with their Triple-A affiliate.
Rivera, a client of MDR Sports Management, is considered to be a premium defensive catcher but also was one of baseball’s worst hitters in 2015 when he batted .178/.213/.275. A minuscule .230 batting average on balls in play contributed heavily to that lack of productivity, but Rivera has never been much of a hitter with the exception of the 2014 season, when he batted .252/.319/.432 in 103 games with the Padres. That year looks like as much (if not more) of an outlier as last season’s woeful campaign, however, and something in the middle — Rivera is a career .211/.258/.331 hitter — is probably a more realistic expectation.
Despite lacking much in the way of offensive upside, Rivera is a standout defender, which is the reason that the Rays stuck with him in 2015. Rivera has halted 38 percent of stolen base attempts against him over the life of his big league career, and he has consistently graded out as a well above-average pitch framer, including a 2014 season in which Baseball Prospectus rated him as the game’s third-best backstop in terms of stealing strikes for his pitchers.
The Mets were said in Spring Training to be on the lookout for a veteran backup catcher, as the club doesn’t like the idea of young Kevin Plawecki playing sparingly in a backup role but also isn’t high on Johnny Monell serving as the primary backup to Travis d’Arnaud. While Rivera’s deal is of the minor league variety, it’s possible that the Mets could eventually promote him to serve as a defensive-minded backup to d’Arnaud while allowing Plawecki to receive everyday at-bats at the minor league level.