Twitter a polarizing topic in Mets' clubhouse
Turner a fan, while others don't endorse social media tool
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Justin Turner's recruiting trip began in the middle of the Mets' clubhouse Tuesday morning, when he badgered backup catcher Mike Nickeas to join Twitter. Reliever Jon Rauch overheard the conversation and revealed that, after discussing the matter with his wife, he is considering joining.
"I think everyone should be on it," Turner said.
The Mets do not necessarily agree or disagree with that view. But given the growing popularity of Twitter within their clubhouse -- even general manager Sandy Alderson has an account -- they introduced a new wrinkle into their annual media training session Tuesday morning, giving Turner, R.A. Dickey and other Twitter users an opportunity to share their experiences.
For Turner, the Mets' most active tweeter, the service has given him an opportunity to interact directly with fans. After a minor news story broke last week that he is the team's backup first baseman, Turner tweeted a picture of his new first baseman's glove in response to a question from a fan.
"It's just reinforcement," said Turner, who spoke in favor of Twitter during the hour-long team meeting. "It reinforces the truth, and you can correct anything in the media that you don't like. And it's fun. It's fun to keep a pulse on what the fans like and what they don't like."
Though more than a dozen of the organization's Minor Leaguers are active on the service, many older Mets are not convinced. Catcher Josh Thole joined Twitter last spring, for example, but deleted his account three months later after receiving waves of threats and criticisms from fans.
"You couldn't pay me to do that again," Thole said. "Everybody's like, 'Oh, it's great.' OK. Go 0-for-12 and lose the game for the team and see how great it is."
The moderate view came from Dickey, who has effectively used Twitter to solicit sponsorships and raise awareness for his charitable endeavors in the past. Though Dickey enjoys Twitter and believes it can be an effective business tool, he is not as staunchly in favor of it as Turner.
Dickey recalls Mike Pelfrey recently asking about the service while the two pitchers dined at a local steakhouse. To prove a point, Dickey tweeted their location.
"Within 20 seconds, I had over 100 tweets, people saying everything," Dickey said, noting that some responses came from inside the restaurant. "I said, 'This is what you'll be up against if you join Twitter.' And he said, 'Yeah, that's not for me.'"
Duda slowed -- by Harvey's errant pitch
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- No Mets pitcher has turned more heads this spring than Matt Harvey, one of the organization's foremost hopes for a successful future. No hitter has drawn more rave reviews than Lucas Duda, who has already dumped dozens of balls over the right-field fence. So when those two squared off during a live batting-practice session Tuesday, something had to give.
Turns out it was Duda's leg. In a rare lapse of control, Harvey drilled Duda in the right hamstring with a fastball Tuesday morning.
Duda was fine, prompting manager Terry Collins to quip, "It's like throwing against a wall."
"I don't know about that," Duda said afterward. "It's a baseball. It's going to hurt."
Still, it did not hurt enough to prevent Duda from stepping back in the box during regular batting practice later in the morning, drilling ball after ball over the right- and right-center-field fences.
"We all know he has the potential to be very, very dangerous," Collins said, spending significant time praising Duda for the second straight day. "He has the ability to do it."
Harvey, Familia set for intrasquad action Friday
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Top pitching prospects Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia will highlight the Mets' first intrasquad game on Friday, kicking off a series of three camp games before the team's Grapefruit League opener on Monday.
Harvey and Dillon Gee will start opposite one another in Friday's seven-inning intrasquad game, with Familia relieving Gee. The following day, R.A. Dickey and Chris Schwinden will start another intrasquad game, with Mike Pelfrey squaring off against Jon Niese on Sunday.
Originally, the Mets had planned to make that final game an exhibition against the organization's STEP camp players, a group of the top Minor Leaguers not invited to big league camp. But manager Terry Collins nixed the idea, preferring to allocate playing time to his Major Leaguers.
"We have to get our guys ready," Collins said. "No disrespect to the kids over there, we've got to get at-bats for some people. There's a number of decisions to be made in this camp, and I'm not going to limit the number of times I can see these guys."
Left-hander Johan Santana threw a long-toss session Tuesday morning, keeping him in line to start the Mets' second Grapefruit League game on March 6. Santana will throw live batting practice on Thursday and a light bullpen session Saturday, before resting Sunday and Monday in preparation for his start.
Donning full wrestling garb, reliever Tim Byrdak broke up the monotony of camp when he ran out to the Mets' practice fields Tuesday dressed as Hulk Hogan. Byrdak had bleached his horseshoe mustache last week to mimic Hogan's trademark facial hair.