Morning Mets Notes: Could Jonathon Niese Start for the Mets on Opening Day?


So, for the moment, Johan Santana is still slated to be the Opening Day starter for the New York Mets. However, if he’s not deemed ready by Terry Collins and the rest of the coaching staff, Jonathon Niese will take his spot and toe the slab.

Collins still has the hope that Santana is on schedule to be properly prepared to kick off the 2013 for the Mets, but that still remains to be seen. Johan has yet to make it back on a mound, and has been long-tossing off flat ground ever since. He will stretch his arm out to 150 feet tomorrow, and then 180 feet before he can hopefully throw live batting practice on Tuesday. If he stays on this current schedule, he will be on track to get the four Grapefruit League starts he needs to then take the mound in the season opener against the Padres. If not, Collins said they could give him a few more days and have him pitch against San Diego on April 4th, which would be the series finale.

March 01, 2013; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jonathon Niese (49) throws in the spring training game against the Detroit Tigers at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Is this cause for more concern? I don’t think so. I’d rather see the Mets take the conservative approach with Santana to make sure he’s ready to go. As long as he avoids the disabled list, I don’t care when he pitches, and it shouldn’t matter to anyone else, either. It’s obvious to see why Collins wants his veteran southpaw to be the first man to take the mound at Citi Field and set the tone, but it’s more important to make sure he’s absolutely ready to take the mound and has the best opportunity to succeed. New York is trying to get the most bang for their buck ($25.5 million, to be exact) out of Johan this season, and whatever they have to do to keep him on the field is necessary.

Danny Abriano kept us current yesterday while the Mets were busy beating the Tigers 6-2. We had some encouraging news, as Daniel Murphy began hitting off a tee, but some bad news as it seems unlikely that Frank Francisco will be ready to be the team’s closer on Opening Day. If that’s the case, then Terry Collins told WFAN that Bobby Parnell would take on the role. Parnell looked great yesterday, retiring the Tigers in order on three pitches in the ninth, and it was interesting to hear what Collins had to say about the righty winning the closer’s job:

"“I don’t think Frankie’s going to be ready for Opening Day, so it’ll be Bobby [Parnell]. And you know what? He can take that job and run with it.”"

Adam Rubin reported there are three veterans in Mets camp eligible for some special treatment, according to the new collective bargaining agreement. Players with significant MLB experience the prior season that are in camp on a minor league deal must be told by 12p on March 26th whether or not they’ll be making the team, or they will be paid $100K by their team to head to the minors, unless they get cut. Three players qualify for this on the Mets: LaTroy Hawkins, Pedro Feliciano, and Tim Byrdak. According to Rubin, Hawkins seems to be a lock for the team unless he gets hurt, and this isn’t an issue for Byrdak, who isn’t expected to be ready to pitch in the Bigs until the second half. Feliciano has an edge on the competition, but he must show he can perform close to the level he was at in his first tour with the Mets.

Yesterday was the start of us handing out the Rising Apple Player of the Week awards, and Collin Cowgill was our first winner for his ridiculous start to Spring Training. We also welcomed Ellie Silfin to the Rising Apple family, as she made her debut post yesterday. She talked about the future of the Mets outfield, which could include the likes of Matt den Dekker and Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

The Mets will take Tradition Field this afternoon at 1:10p against Alex Sanabia the Miami Marlins. Matt Harvey will toe the slab for New York, and here’s the lineup behind him:

Collin Cowgill, CF

Ruben Tejada, SS

Ike Davis, 1B

Marlon Byrd, DH

Lucas Duda, LF

Justin Turner, 2B

Andrew Brown, RF

Anthony Recker, C

Zach Lutz, 3B

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