03/31/2013 4:30 PM ET
Young arms key to Mets' quest for '13 success
By Jay Greenberg / Special to MLB.com
NEW YORK -- No Johan Santana. No R.A. Dickey. No way that Jon Niese will make his first Opening Day start on Monday by putting pressure on himself to be either.
"I'm not going to treat it as an Opening Day [start], [I] will treat it like a midseason start," said Niese at Citi Field on Sunday, as the Mets -- all but Jordany Valdespin working out voluntarily -- volunteered themselves as a blue-collar bunch with high expectations. "I'm just another pitcher.
"I don't think we have an ace on this staff. Everybody contributes equally, that's all we're really counting on, really. Quality innings, keep the team in the game."
With runs expected to be hard to come by, the Mets' chances for respectability in 2013 will hinge on a young starting pitching staff exceeding the level of its fame. Pitching in New York, these guys will get noticed soon enough. But the top two guys in the rotation are already on David Wright's radar.
"It's important these guys take the mindset of being No. 1 or No 2," said new Mets captain David Wright. "Jon Niese [and] Matt Harvey have that confidence and the stuff to be top-of-the-rotation type guys.
"They want to be that Johan Santana or R.A. Dickey -- the type who not only eats innings but are stoppers. I believe they are those types."
They will have to be, says Terry Collins, the suddenly ace-less Mets manager.
"You look for a guy who, every fifth day, you know what he's going to do," conceded Collins. "And you know what? It's Jon Niese's turn. Matt Harvey, Dillon Gee, Jeremy Hefner -- it's their turn to be the mainstays here."
Wright will have to knock rust off on the fly
NEW YORK -- David Wright, who missed two weeks with a strained left intercostal muscle suffered during the World Baseball Classic, got in three at-bats in the Mets' exhibition finale on Saturday, which will just have to be good enough since Opening Day has arrived.
"It would have been nice to have had a few more at-bats toward the end, but I didn't have that luxury," Wright said. "I thought the extra day or two [of rest] was more important than the extra at-bats. I feel good physically."
Perhaps the adrenalin of his first game as captain of the Mets can overcome some of his rust.
"It's not something I started to think about until a few days ago, when someone asked," Wright said. "But to be introduced as captain is going to be pretty special."
Special would not describe this Mets roster, so extraordinary must depict its attitude. The club can't ask rookies to forgo their first Major League meal money. But in mindset, at least, Wright says the Mets will be toting lunch pails.
"Scrappy comes to mind," Wright said, when asked to describe the personality of his team. "I said it all Spring Training: You are not going to see a lot of household names, not going to see a lot of flash or sexiness, per se. But I think you have a roomful of guys who don't have those egos, that know how to play team baseball.
"The teams that do well buy into that team concept. Who cares who gets the big hit? The bottom line is wins. That's our personality -- gritty, scrappy, will do the small things that it takes to win games."
• With infielder Justin Turner, who has fought through a sprained right ankle and a strained left calf, declared ready to go after Sunday's workout, the Mets optioned Zach Lutz, who hit .308 during Grapefruit League play, to Triple-A Las Vegas.
Jay Greenberg is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.