In a game that was briefly marred by Jordany Valdespin taking a 94 MPH fastball directly to his groin (it was painful to write that sentence), the Mets ripped the Tigers 11-0 this afternoon in Lakeland.
The Mets opened the scoring in the first when Jordany Valdespin led off the game with a home run off Justin Verlander. They expanded their lead to 2-0 in the second when John Buck doubled and eventually scored on a balk. Later in the frame, Brandon Hicks hit a solo homer to center to make it 3-0. The Mets got to Verlander again in the fifth, the big blow coming on a two run single from Ike Davis that upped their lead to 5-0. The Mets scored twice in the sixth to make it 7-0. The first run of the frame came via an error, and the second came courtesy of a Brian Bixler RBI single.
In the seventh, the Mets piled on some more to take a 10-0 lead. The runs came on an RBI single from Jamie Hoffmann and a two run single by Matt den Dekker. The Mets kept the onslaught going in the eighth as Brian Bixler drilled a solo homer to make it 11-0 and cap the scoring.
- Jonathon Niese got the start and hurled four and two thirds innings of scoreless ball. He allowed one hit, walked four, and struck out none.
- Jordany Valdespin led off the game with a homer off Justin Verlander. In the fifth inning, Valdespin was drilled in the groin by a Verlander fastball. An inning after he was hit, Valdespin told Adam Rubin that he was fine and laughed off the HBP. Valdespin also said that Verlander was concerned after he was hit, which led Jordany to believe it wasn’t intentional. Asked by the New York Post where he got hit, Valdespin candidly replied “my d*ck.” The dude is a one man show.
- Ike Davis lined a two RBI single in the fifth. He finished 1 for 2 with two RBI’s and is hitting .364 for the spring.
- According to the beat writers, Matt den Dekker made another highlight reel catch in center field. He chipped in on offense in the seventh, driving in two with a single to right field.
- Travis d’Arnaud got the start as the designated hitter and had a rough day, going 0 for 5.
- John Buck had a nice day at the plate, going 2 for 3 with a pair of doubles and two runs scored.
- Jenrry Mejia came in to pitch the sixth, his first game action since being shut down with a thyroid issue. He worked around a one out single to toss a scoreless frame.
- Jeurys Familia pitched the seventh and continued to shine. He retired the side in order on two ground outs and a strikeout.
- Anthony Recker continues to cement his spot as the backup catcher. He went 2 for 2 this afternoon and is batting .538 this spring.
Jonathon Niese was impressive this afternoon despite walking four. As each day passes, it’s becoming a foregone conclusion that Niese will get the nod on opening day at Citi Field. Niese put together his best overall season in 2012, as his peripherals finally started to match up with his potential. The potential opening day start wouldn’t be by default, it would be well earned.
Jordany Valdespin is highly entertaining when he’s performing on the field. When he’s struggling, his antics become a bit of a sideshow. This spring, Valdespin has been tremendous. He’s leading the team in home runs with three, and has been a spark-plug at the top of the lineup. AAA manager Wally Backman noted last week that Valdespin had become a better teammate and a bit more mature recently. Regardless of his amusing activities (which include his must see Instagram account, his on field styling and profiling, and the hat he wears with his own nickname on it), Valdespin is an intriguing player. If he’s able to handle the outfield duties that are likely to come with his inclusion on the roster, he could carve out a permanent spot for himself with the Mets.
Matt den Dekker’s play is keeping his name out there as someone who can potentially make the team. His defense is exceptional and he’s contributed at times on offense. Still, his strikeout rate (both this spring and in the minors) makes him a long-shot to break camp with the club. If he was making more consistent contact, he’d probably have a legitimate shot to make the team. At this point, I expect Collin Cowgill, Lucas Duda, Marlon Byrd, Mike Baxter, and Jordany Valdespin to be the five outfielders who come north on April 1st.
The Mets are off tomorrow. They travel to Viera Wednesday to take on the Nationals at 1:05 PM.