March 09, 2013; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Jeremy Hefner (53) pitches against the against the Houston Astros in the spring training game at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
The Cardinals drew even in the third on a sacrifice fly by Matt Carpenter, but the Mets went back ahead 2-1 in their half of the inning on a two out double from Marlon Byrd that was followed by a Lucas Duda RBI single.
When Jeremy Hefner left after being struck by a one hopper off the bat of Carlos Beltran in the fourth (X-Rays were negative), the Mets basically waved the white flag by bringing minor leaguer Randy Fontanez (who had a 4.90 ERA last year for Low-A Savannah) into the game. Fontanez, who is a non prospect who never pitched above A ball, was ridiculously overmatched. He was rocked for five runs without recording an out before being replaced by Armando Rodriguez, as the Cardinals took a 7-2 lead. The Cardinals extended their advantage to 9-2 in the seventh, courtesy of a two run homer off the bat of Yadier Molina (given up by another Mets pitcher who has yet to pitch above A ball, Chase Huchingson).
The Mets drew a bit closer in the seventh, when Lucas Duda lofted a two run homer to right center to make it 9-4. In the ninth, St. Louis tallied two runs against Dylan Owen to put the Cards up 11-4 and close out the scoring.
- Jeremy Hefner got the start for the Mets and pitched well until being struck in his pitching elbow by a comebacker off the bat of Carlos Beltran in the fourth. Hefner gave up two runs (one that scored after he departed) on five hits before leaving the game in the fourth.
- Jordany Valdespin led off the first with an infield single. He went 1 for 4 with a run scored.
- Kirk Nieuwenhuis, playing the outfield in a Grapefruit League game for the first time since injuring his knee, had one hit in his return to action and made a sliding catch in center field.
- Lucas Duda continued to swing the bat well, going 3 for 4 with four RBI’s and a run scored (including a homer). Since tinkering with his stance early in camp and starting 0 for 7, Duda has gone back to his old stance and mashed. He has five homers on the spring and is hitting .302.
- Marlon Byrd laced a ground rule double to left field in the third, and finished the game 2 for 3 with a run scored.
- LaTroy Hawkins entered for the sixth and needed just nine pitches to retire the side in order.
- After Hefner left the game in the fourth, the Mets began inserting a plethora of minor league pitchers and position players (Hamilton Bennett, Armando Rodriguez, Dylan Owen, Danny Muno, etc) who finished out the contest.
Jeremy Hefner left the game after being drilled in his pitching elbow on a scalded one hopper off the bat of Carlos Beltran in the top of the fourth. Hefner went for X-Rays (which came back negative) shortly after being removed from the game. Before Hefner even made it off the field, Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling were all banging the drum for Zack Wheeler to break camp in the rotation. First of all, it’s not yet known if Hefner will miss time with what has been diagnosed as a bruised elbow. Even If Hefner does have to miss time, it would be foolish for the Mets to allow Wheeler to open the season in New York. All the Mets have to do to guarantee Wheeler hits free agency after 2019 (instead of after 2018) is keep him in AAA until April 20th. Sacrificing that extra year of control in order for Wheeler to make three April starts for the Mets would be ridiculous. I believe the Mets are smart enough to realize that. With both Shaun Marcum and Jeremy Hefner‘s statuses up in the air, the Mets would likely turn to Aaron Laffey and/or Collin McHugh in one or both of their steads.
Omar Quintanilla has been tremendous with the glove this spring. Lots of attention has been focused on the failure of Brandon Hicks and Brian Bixler to grab a hold of the backup infielder spot, but it was Quintanilla’s to lose all along. He responded by doing what he did during his time with the Mets last year: grinding out professional at bats and playing stellar defense. This afternoon, he ranged to his right and laid out for a headlong dive, before popping up and throwing out Yadier Molina (though the umpire missed the call).
Today was exhibit Z as to why spring training records don’t matter, as the Cardinals scored seven runs off two Mets pitchers who are non-prospects who have yet to appear above A ball.
The Mets host the Astros tomorrow at 6:10 PM. The game can be seen on SNY and heard on WFAN 660 AM/101.9 FM.