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Today’s Game: Mets at Cardinals

The Mets travel to play the Cardinals on Friday in Jupiter, FL, where heavy rain is in the forecast, at 1 p.m.

Matt Harvey is scheduled to start for the Mets. Harvey will have an 80-pitch limit, Terry Collins said Thursday. In five starts this spring, he has a 1.26 ERA. He threw 60 pitches against the Yankees in his last start, while throwing 5.2 scoreless innings.

Harvey will also bat eighth, with Danny Muno batting in the nine hole.

Wilmer Flores, David Wright, Michael Cuddyer, Travis d’Arnaud and Curtis Granderson are also scheduled to travel and play in the game.

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Jon Niese is changing his delivery, because of stress on his shoulder

Jon Niese threw 76 pitches during an intrasquad game at Tradition Field on Thursday.

Niese told reporters he was mostly focused on adjusting his delivery to reduce stress he’d been putting on his shoulder in previous starts this spring.

In February, Niese said he probably should have started 2014 on the disabled list.

“There was a sharp pain in there,” Niese said about his shoulder pain from a year ago. “I think I got off the mound way too early, before I got my arm in shape and kind of screwed things up in there.”

Niese eventually missed time in 2014 with pain in the AC joint in his shoulder, elbow inflammation and sore triceps, all of which are reportedly connected to the partially torn rotator cuff in his pitching arm. He was also pulled from a late-season start with an elevated heart rate for the second time in three years.

Nevertheless, he told reporters he feels strong going in to 2015.

“I haven’t been this confident with my arm in probably three years,” he concluded.


cerrone avatarMatthew Cerrone: In the winter, I mentioned how teams were skeptical of Niese’s shoulder (Nov. 2014). I actually had one talent evaluator refer to him as ‘damaged,’ offering to bet that Niese will eventually need rotator cuff surgery.

I’m not a gambler, but I totally understand the source of their skepticism. Niese has been on the disabled list with issues related to the rotator cuff each of the last two seasons. He jetted off to New York in Spring Training last year to get an MRI for a “sore triceps,” which a typical since pain often refers down the back of the arm. Niese was later shut down for three weeks last summer, first saying he had no pain, but eventually admitting that shoulder pain was causing him to unknowingly change his mechanics >> Read more from Feb. 9

Wall Street Journal: Matt Harvey Stays in Command During Comeback

According to a recent paper published by Dr. Christopher Ahmad, on average, pitchers threw significantly less pitches in the strike zone during the first year back from Tommy Johns surgery.

However, so far this spring, Matt Harvey has shown razor-sharp precision, much like he did before his surgery, explains reporter Jared Diamond >> Read more in the Wall Street Journal.

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Wilmer Flores looked strong in his first game back from a bruised foot

Wilmer Flores returned from a bruised left foot Thursday to go 1-for-3 with a walk in a win against the Nationals.

He also fielded two ground balls at shortstop with no issue.

“I feel it a little bit, but I’ve just got to go through it,” Flores said after the game (MLB.com, March 27). “It’s going to be sore, but I feel great.”

Flores will continue to wear a protective guard over his foot while batting, and is again expected to be ready for Opening Day.

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Jeurys Familia having a rough spring, Collins and Warthen aren’t worried

In eight appearances this spring, Mets reliever Jeurys Familia has allowed seven runs in seven innings, while facing 36 batters and giving up 12 hits and three walks.

Familia, 25, faced seven Nationals on Thursday and gave up four hits, three runs and a walk.

Terry Collins said after the game he is not concerned with Familia’s spring-training performance because he is working on pitch selection with pitching coach Dan Warthen.

“Familia is trying to incorporate more upper-zone fastballs to complement his sinker, so everything is not down in the zone,” according to ESPN reporter Adam Rubin (March 26).

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Bobby Parnell pitched against the Marlins, not concerned with lack of velocity

Bobby Parnell tossed 17 pitches against the Marlins Triple-A team on Wednesday. However, according to reporter Adam Rubin, Parnell’s fastball hit only the upper 90s, which he attributed to trying not to overthrow (March 26).

According to a talent evaluator who watched Parnell and talked to the Daily News, there should be no concern about the closer’s velocity since he is still building arm strength and otherwise looked and easy with his delivery (March 27).

It was Parnell’s first time in a game situation against opposing players since having Tommy John surgery roughly one year ago.

“I knew the gun wasn’t going to be anything outstanding,” Parnell said, noting he still expects to return from the disabled list in May. “It was more a ‘go out there and knock the rust off’ kind of thing.”

Sandy Alderson has repeatedly said Parnell is likely to return from the disabled list during late April, early May.

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What’s on Tap for Friday, March 27

The Mets travel to Jupiter to face the Cardinals on Friday at 1:05 p.m.

The game will not air on live TV in New York, but can be heard on WOR 710 AM radio.

Matt Harvey, who is slated to throw roughly 80 pitches and bat eighth, gets the start for the Mets.

In case you missed it

The Mets had a late offensive explosion and beat the Nationals, 8-3, on Thursday >> Read more

The Mets have been scouting three left-handed relievers from the Dodgers >> Read more

Daniel Murphy (hamstring) hopes to play this weekend and be ready for Opening Day >> Read more

Vic Black is planning to throw a bullpen session this weekend and also expects to be ready for Opening Day >> Read more

The Mets outfield left to right will be Michael Cuddyer, Juan Lagares, and Curtis Granderson >> Read more

The Mets are utilizing the science of defensive positioning >> Read more

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Lagares, Reynolds and den Dekker lead Mets to 8-3 win over Nationals

Matt Bowman threw five scoreless innings and Matt Reynolds, Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker hit home runs as the Mets defeated the Nationals, 8-3, at Space Coast Stadium on Thursday night.

Need to Know

The Mets were unable to score through five innings against Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez. However, Reynolds and Lagares hit back-to-back home runs against LH reliever Jerry Blevins in the seventh to tie the game at three. Anthony Recker them gave the Mets the lead with a sacrifice fly the following inning.

Den Dekker later hit a two-run home run to seal the win.

Eric Campbell had another RBI double in the sixth inning.against Tanner Roark.

Jeurys Familia struggled in relief, but Buddy Carlyle entered with two outs and stranded two baserunners.

Bowman was borrowed from minor-league camp to fill in for Jon Niese, who the team held back to pitch in an intrasquad game instead of risking a rain out. Bowman threw 46 pitches and did not allow a run in his five innings of work.

What’s Next

The Mets (14-10) travel to Jupiter, FL, on Friday to face the Cardinals at 1:05 p.m. Matt Harvey will start for the Mets against Cardinals RHP John Lackey.

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Mets scouting Dodgers, Rockies LH relievers

The Mets have been scouting relief pitchers on the Rockies and Dodgers, including J.P. Howell, Paco Rodriguez and Adam Liberatore, according to LA reporter Mark Saxon (March 26).

Previous Reports

Mets officials are confident they’ll be able to acquire additional help in the bullpen if needed, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman recently reported (March 25). However, they may first wait for teams to put players on waivers the last week of March before making a move, according to beat reporter Adam Rubin (March 23). Rubin has also reported that Cardinals LH reliever Sam Freeman and Nationals LH reliever Xavier Cedeno, both of whom are out of options and unlikely to make their team’s Opening Day rosters, could be available in trade (March 14).

The Mets have also reportedly been scouting O’s LHP Brian Matusz, though they have not engaged in any trade talks, according to reporter Mike Puma (March 25).

Howell, Rodriguez and Liberatore

Howell has pitched in 402 games during his career. He was 3-3 with a 2.39 ERA in 68 games last season.

Rodriguez hasn’t been scored upon this spring through seven innings. He was 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in 19 games last year for the Dodgers.

Liberatore also hasn’t allowed a run in seven innings this spring. However, he has never pitched in the major leagues, despite going 6-1 with a 1.66 ERA in 65 innings at Triple-A last season.

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Vic Black feels good, plans to throw bullpen session this weekend

Mets reliever Vic Black plans to throw a bullpen session this weekend now that his shoulder feels better, he told SNY.TV’s Robert Brender (March 26).

Black is close to being ready for Opening Day, pitching coach Dan Warthen said, according to NJ.com’s Mike Vorkunov (March 26).

Previous Reports

Sandy Alderson expressed concern on March 23 that Black would not be ready for the start of the season after learning the pitcher was diagnosed with shoulder tendinitis.

“I think Vic’s a question mark at this point,” Alderson added. “I’m not sure where he’ll be on Opening Day.”

Black finished anti-inflammatory medication for his shoulder March 19, after which he was cleared to pick up a baseball.

According to Black, based on what he’s done so far his spring, it will not take long for him to be ready for the team’s first game on April 6.