New York Daily News
No rushing final moves
Buck still has decisions to make
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Less than 24 hours remain in spring training, but that doesn’t mean the Mets are ready to release their Opening Day roster. More roster cuts were made Sunday, but there are a few decisions the club still has to make.
The Mets trimmed their roster by four Sunday afternoon, optioning infielder Danny Mendick and right-hander Jeff Brigham to Triple-A Syracuse, and assigning lefthander T.J. McFarland and right-hander Jimmy Yacabonis to minor-league camp. The three pitchers had been in the mix for the eighth bullpen spot, but by process of elimination, right-hander Dennis Santana is in line for that spot. Santana, who posted a 3.38 ERA with nine strikeouts over nine innings this spring, was a late addition to the spring roster as a waiver claim on March 17.
The Mets see right-handers Tylor Megill and Elieser Hernandez as starters and Buck Showalter reiterated that Sunday before the Mets played their final Grapefruit League game of the season against the Marlins.
“We’re proceeding down the path of him as a starter and we’ll continue to do that,” Showalter said Sunday in the Clover Park dugout. “We don’t see Tylor fitting in the bullpen right now.”
Of Hernandez, Showalter said, “I think he’s probably a little more from the starting standpoint, but with the ability to go into the bullpen.”
If you read between the lines, that means that Hernandez is probably headed to Syracuse. But the key word there is probably because nothing is official just yet.
The Mets are deciding whether to start the season with Megill or left-hander
David Peterson in the rotation. Showalter said they’re getting close to announcing a decision but there are still some aspects to consider, and not all of them will be made public.
“I try not to say, ‘He’s better than him,’ but they’re both good and we’re lucky to have them and we’re going to need both of them all year,” Showalter said. “We’ve kicked around a lot of different things. I really wouldn’t want to have them read or hear about the pure factors, but there are some things that present themselves differently for those two guys.”
Outwardly, the veteran manager has shown considerable compassion for struggling players or the players he has to demote. “That is somebody’s son” is a phrase he repeats often and Showalter rarely excoriates players on the record. Showalter has been especially cautious with his words over the last few days of spring training with the media and in meetings with players.
“I know we’d all like to kind of tell the players but you’ve got to be careful about telling something that you don’t know for sure is going to happen,” he said. “You could go up there and then all of the sudden something happens today that could change it. You have to be really careful.”
But a decision on Megill and Peterson looms large, as well as a decision on the DH. Darin Ruf, Daniel Vogelbach and Tommy Pham didn’t particularly impress during spring, though Showalter has noted that they performed much better in games on the backfields.
Spring training results matter little and
backfield results aren’t publicly available, so the questions about the DH role will likely persist through the early part of the season. Pham went 7-for-45 (.156) with one double, six walks and 14 strikeouts; Vogelbach went 8-for-39 (.205) with two doubles, two walks and 12 strikeouts; Ruf went 5-for-30 (.167) with two doubles, four walks and nine strikeouts.
Ruf came into camp with wrist tendinitis but a cortisone injection cleared up the pain and he was able to get into 11 Grapefruit League games. His spot as the right-handed DH is not secure and general manager Billy Eppler didn’t offer much assurance when asked about it Saturday night.
“We haven’t announced the Opening Day roster yet,” he said. “So we’ll announce that, I don’t know, 11:59 on Thursday. OK?”
Speedy outfielder Tim Locastro has outperformed that trio this spring, and while he doesn’t possess the power that those three do, he has the ability to affect a game with his legs and has shown that he can get on base and create runs.
The Mets will end spring training with an intrasquad scrimmage to simulate the timing of Opening Day on Monday. Megill and Peterson have already completed their auditions, but for some, it’s the last chance to show the club brass that they deserve a spot on the Major League roster. It’s also the last chance for the Mets to fully assess their depth.
“We’re trying to get the best 40 or the best 45 or whatever it may be,” Showalter said. “It’s more than just the 26.”