02/26/2013 5:27 PM ET
Highlight-reel catches nothing new for den Dekker
By Anthony DiComo / MLB.com
JUPITER, Fla. -- A clubhouse television caught the attention of several Mets early Tuesday morning, when Matt den Dekker's leaping catch from the previous night made the cut of SportsCenter's top 10 plays from around sports.
"I haven't done that in a while," den Dekker said after watching his highlight. "It's a pretty cool feeling when you take a home run away from somebody. I know it's Spring Training, but whenever you do that, it's fun."
Arriving in camp with a reputation for defensive prowess in center field, den Dekker leaped above the Tradition Field wall in the seventh inning to rob Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon of a homer. den Dekker sported a wide grin as he landed on the warning track.
"I know he can really play center field," manager Terry Collins said. "A tremendous catch. He's a legit defender, there's no doubt about it."
It was the third time that den Dekker's defense has landed him on SportsCenter. He first hit the national airwaves in 2010, when he made a sliding catch for the University of Florida during the College World Series, and again in 2011, when he made a diving grab for the Mets during Spring Training.
"I have speed, so I'm blessed with that," den Dekker said. "I've always felt comfortable in the outfield making catches. I've just got to work on my offensive game, get that where it needs to be. That's what I'm working on this spring."
The biggest knock on den Dekker is, indeed, his offense, which features plenty of power and plenty of strikeouts. den Dekker hit 17 homers in 135 games split between the top two levels of the Minors last season, but he whiffed in more than a quarter of his plate appearances.
He will need to improve that to make a serious run at the Opening Day roster. den Dekker, 25, is a fringe candidate to make the team, with Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Collin Cowgill expected to open the season in a center-field platoon.
Mazzoni standing out from pack of Minor Leaguers
JUPITER, Fla. -- It is often difficult to stand out from the pack this early in spring, with dozens of Minor Leaguers clogging up the box scores, but Cory Mazzoni has managed to do it.
The 23-year-old right-hander added three perfect innings to his resume on Tuesday against the Marlins, increasing his total of shutout innings to five over two Grapefruit League appearances. Working on perfecting his changeup this spring, Mazzoni has struck out three and allowed one hit without walking a batter.
"He's been everything I've heard about him," manager Terry Collins said. "I was certainly anxious to see him. He's been very impressive."
Mazzoni cultivated his reputation as a strike-thrower last year at Class A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton, fanning nearly three times as many batters as he walked. Though he does not possess the same type of electric stuff as some of the more-hyped arms in the organization, his three-pitch mix has resulted in a 3.72 ERA over the first two years of his Minor League career.
The Mets' second-round Draft pick in 2011, Mazzoni should reach Triple-A Las Vegas early this summer if he does not begin the season there. A strong Spring Training can only help speed him along that track.
"Right now I've just been trying to throw strikes and pound the zone, and I've been able to do that," Mazzoni said. "The results have been pretty good."
• Shortstop Ruben Tejada, a late scratch from Monday's game because of a cramped right quad, was feeling better on Tuesday, according to manager Terry Collins, and is expected to return to the lineup for Wednesday's game against the Cardinals.
• Sacred Heart University on Tuesday officially named former Mets manager Bobby Valentine its athletic director.
"We recognize that Bobby is an out-of-the-box selection, but we believe his entrepreneurial spirit, extensive sports background and love of athletics make him an ideal choice," Sacred Heart president John J. Petillo said in a statement.
• Infielder Mario Ramirez, who played 18 games for the Mets in 1980, died last week at the age of 55. Ramirez also played parts of five seasons with the Padres.