On Darryl Strawberry’s 55th birthday, here’s the latest from Citi Field…
- The Mets “couldn’t give [Rafael Montero] away” this offseason, a club official tells Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. “At one time, this kid’s name was the first one mentioned anytime we talked to a team about a trade and he was untouchable,” the high-ranking official said. Montero was seen as both a top Mets pitching prospect and as a top-100 prospect in all of baseball (as per MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus) prior to the 2014 season, though the right-hander’s star has since dimmed. Montero missed almost all of 2015 due to a shoulder injury and then battled control issues in 2016, so his MLB output consists of just 73 1/3 innings since the start of the 2014 season. He has been pitching well in spring camp, however, and trying to get himself in contention for a long relief job. Given Montero’s past prospect status, it seems surprising that no teams were considered him as even a buy-low lottery ticket in a trade, though it could be that any interested teams wanted to wait until Spring Training to scout his progress.
- Also from Ackert, she hears from Addison Reed that the reliever isn’t necessarily intending to seek out “a closer’s contract” in free agency next offseason, even though Reed may be in position to pick up some saves if and when Jeurys Familia is suspended. “It really doesn’t matter to me,” Reed said. “As long as it’s a good deal and a good fit. I am not really thinking about it [free agency] yet, but I am happy here and happy with my role here.” Reed has past closing experience with the White Sox and Diamondbacks, though he has thrived since joining the Mets in a setup role.
- Neil Walker has been taking ground balls at first base “just in case” he is needed at the position, the regular second baseman tells MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. “I just need to get my feet back underneath me,” Walker said. “If I were to have to go over there, it would just take a couple days to get back in the flow of things.” The Mets were short-handed at first last year due to Lucas Duda’s stress fracture in his back, and with Duda missing more time due to hip stiffness in Spring Training, the Mets have taken the opportunity to get Walker and Jay Bruce some reps at first base. All signs still point to Walker as the everyday second baseman, of course, as New York would turn to Wilmer Flores, Bruce, possibly Jose Reyes and others before using Walker at first in the event that Duda misses time. Walker has only played 10 games at first in his pro career, all as a minor leaguer in 2009-10.
- Brandon Nimmo will miss a few weeks of action after suffering a Grade 1 hamstring strain while playing in the World Baseball Classic, Italy manager Marco Mazzieri told reporters (including James Wagner of the New York Times). The injury will likely end any chance Nimmo had of cracking the Opening Day roster, as he was already a longshot due to the Mets’ outfield surplus.