03/09/12 12:39 PM ET
Injured Mets taking time to heal
By Anthony DiComo and Chris Girandola / MLB.com
"I'm just doing as much as I can in the weight room without stressing the muscle," said Hairston, who recently received three cortisone shots in his midsection to promote the healing of his strained left oblique. Unable to do much more than weightlifting for now, Hairston soon plans to begin riding a stationary bike and tracking pitches from a machine.
Down time is also more plentiful than usual for David Wright, who continues to battle stiffness in his rib cage and hopes to make his Grapefruit League debut at some point next week. Between exercise and treatment, Wright found some free moments Friday to watch a spirited round of pitchers' batting practice on Field 2, jawing with his teammates before rain drove them inside.
He and Hairston are hardly alone in their idleness. The list of minor Mets injuries grew by one Friday, when the team scratched outfielder Lucas Duda from his game assignment with a stiff back.
"It's just one of those things," Duda said. "Not a big deal at all."
Sometimes, small issues do turn into big ones, as the Mets have come to know all too well. But most times, they don't. Andres Torres, for example, was a late scratch Thursday with a stiff right glute, but Torres felt "much better" Friday and plans to start in center field Saturday. Unlike Duda, Torres was listed on the travel roster for the Mets' trip to Viera, Fla.
Other news around the clubhouse varies. Left-hander Robert Carson, who also struggled through some oblique tightness last week, is feeling better and working out as normal. Second-base prospect Reese Havens continues to sit with stiffness in his lower back. Reliever Pedro Beato is receiving treatment on his inflamed right rotator cuff, unsure of when he will attempt to throw.
"How the shoulder recovers in the next couple days will determine how quickly I can get back on the mound," Beato said.
In the meantime, he and others will remain idle. Hairston enjoyed a long breakfast Friday as his teammates streamed out to the field, later relaxing at his locker with a pair of over-sized headphones. Doing nothing is hardly his preference.
"I have to make sure it's healed before I start swinging," Hairston said of his oblique. "If it's not healed, I'm back to square one and that's the last thing I want to do."
Open stance gives Bay a different feel
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Jason Bay has not seen it on video, so he cannot tell exactly how open his batting stance has become. But the difference is clear for Bay, who has been hitting this spring with his left foot a full step behind his right, the front of his torso exposed to the field.
The change is the most visible part of Bay's effort to avoid the mechanical tinkering that undid him last season. To that end, Bay has ceased watching video of his swing, molding his stance instead through what feels comfortable.
"I feel like I've done enough of that," Bay said of dissecting game film. "Now I'm just going to go up there and start feeling what I'm looking for instead of mechanically forcing it. I've always been a big feel guy, a big rhythm guy. I lost that somewhere along the way in trying to be too robotic."
One of Bay's early adjustments last year was to close off his stance, positioning his feet more parallel to home plate. Ditching that effort last September, he has since exaggerated the openness of his stance even more. It may continue to change depending upon how he feels.
"If you look at the baseball cards from 2004 to '07 to '09 to now, they're all a little bit different," Bay said. "But there's not one conscious effort. It's just kind of the evolution."
Harvey honored by Koufax meeting
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- When Matt Harvey met Sandy Koufax on Thursday at the Mets' camp in Port St. Lucie, the Mets' pitching prospect was blown away by the encounter.
It was surreal to begin with, considering the 76-year-old Hall of Fame legend requested to speak with Harvey.
"I told him it was a huge honor to me to meet him," said Harvey, who is the Mets' No. 2 prospect. "I was kind of star-struck to meet him. I didn't believe it. After I said it was an honor to meet you, he said, 'It's an honor to meet you. I told Terry I wanted to meet you.' It's kind of surreal I guess. That was one of the coolest experience I've ever experienced."
Harvey also came away with the impression that Koufax might just be able to pitch in the Major Leagues.
"When I shook his hand, it was this much bigger than mine," said the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Harvey, who pointed out that Koufax's fingers stretched a couple inches longer than his. "He's pretty impressive. He could probably throw strikes to hitters still."
Harvey discussed his meeting with Koufax following an impressive outing for himself in Friday's 5-3 win over the Braves in which the right-hander tossed two perfect innings. During the performance, Harvey faced Chipper Jones and Jason Heyward. He made things look simple, including getting Jones to hit into a groundout and striking out Heyward on a high, four-seam fastball.
"He's got to face guys who have plate discipline and aren't going to swing at everything he throws, so he has to learn to make pitches, and I think anytime you face the likes of Chipper Jones, Martin Prado, Brian McCaan, Heyward, you're facing the best of the best, so you're going to learn something by it," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "When you have that kind of arm and that kind of stuff, you should have that kind of confidence you can throw the ball over the plate and not worry about a lot of stuff, because hitting's hard when you face someone with the kind of life on his fastball and that breaking ball. It's hard to hit."
Whether Harvey breaks camp with the Mets or he is sent down to the Minors to continue building a strong resume, the 22-year-old knows he needs to stay the course.
"The mindset hasn't changed," said Harvey, who compiled a combined 13-5 record with a 3.32 ERA in 2011 with Class A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton. "Every time I pick up the ball, I'm trying to prove a point and trying to make the team. I can't think about (not making the team). That will alter how I perform and will alter my approach. I'm just trying to go out there and do what I can do, and get people out and see what happens. I'm just going to do the best I can."
Gee continues to make progress
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Dillon Gee is in the process of working on pitches and creating a routine that will benefit him for the long run. He has a full understanding of what the 162-game grind can do to a baseball player now, after finishing the season with a 5.25 ERA following a 7-0 start that included a 3.76 ERA.
"It's just a matter of knowing what to do and taking the steps to build myself, starting here in Spring Training," said Gee, who went 13-6 with a 4.43 ERA in 27 starts and three relief appearances in the 2011 campaign.
The 25-year-old right-hander came away with a good feeling after his start in the Mets' 5-3 win over the Braves on Wednesday, but he knows it is still a work in progress.
"I think it's still getting adjusted to sitting down, going back out, sitting down, going back out," said Gee, who allowed two runs on five hits over three innings. "It took a few throws to feel like I was loose again. Other than that, I felt alright. I threw some good cutters, and I didn't walk anyone, so that's a plus."
Gee was able to work mostly on cutters because he faced a lineup filled primarily with left-handed hitters.
"I wanted to work on the cutter," Gee said. "We wanted to work on the cutter inside on lefties, and try to get that location down. I threw some good cutters into those lefties. And some changeups. I threw a couple good ones, wasn't as good as it was the last game, but I might have thrown two good ones out of six, so it's still a work in progress
Mets manager Terry Collins said the key for Gee is to get him on a plan where he can be effective throughout the entire season.
"I'm not worried about Dillon Gee," Collins said. "The farther we get into camp, the better command of his stuff he's going to get. When he's throwing all of his pitches and he's throwing them for strikes, he gets easy outs. Dillon got off to a great start last year. What happened in the second half, he's admitted the fatigue, not that he didn't work hard. The process of taking care of himself a little bit more. He's going to have to back off some sides, not waste so many bullets because he's the type of guy who's never satisfied, but I think the kind of pitcher he is, with his health being good, the fact that he's a four-pitch pitcher, when he uses them all and you don't know what you're getting. Those guys are hard to hit."
Duda, Torres expected to play Saturday
Terry Collins said he anticipates Lucas Duda playing in the Mets' game against the Nationals on Saturday, even after the outfielder complained of stiffness in his lower back on Friday, which caused him to miss the trip to Kissimmee.
"He's fine," Collins said. "Yesterday on his off-day as you would expect Duda would do, he worked his butt off. He just got stiff. I told him this morning, because he's not happy with the way he's swinging, I said you have to have some common sense. You don't have to kill yourself. You have three and a half weeks to go, you're gonna get plenty of at-bats."
Collins also expects Andres Torres to play. Torres was a late scratch Thursday with a stiff right glute.
Collins said David Wright is continuing to work "day-to-day" on doing activities, including taking ground balls on Thursday, but the Mets manager does not know when he will officially be able to resume intense workouts. "I don't know what the next step is going to be except to monitor his workload and where's he's at and hopefully get him out there real soon."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. Chris Girandola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.