7/3/2013 7:01 P.M. ET
Keeping ball in park contributes to Parnell's success
By Chris Iseman and Anthony DiComo / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Bobby Parnell cannot remember the last time he gave up a home run.
"Man, what do you want ... to jinx me?" the Mets' closer said when asked about it. "We don't want to talk about it."
For those keeping track, it was Padres third baseman Chase Headley who last redirected a Parnell pitch over the fence on Aug. 4, 2012. Since that time, Parnell has appeared in 60 games and pitched 61 1/3 innings. He has saved some games, absorbed some losses and given up his share of runs.
But Parnell has not allowed a single homer, one of only two pitchers with at least 40 innings over that span to do so. (Oakland's Ryan Cook is the other.) That, more than any other attribute, has keyed Parnell's success since taking over the closer's role.
Though Parnell's ground-ball and strikeout rates are both down from last year, he has succeeded thanks to a reduced walk rate and, of course, a reduced home run rate.
"I don't think of myself as a strikeout pitcher," Parnell said. "I think of myself as a ground-ball pitcher, and in order for me to get ground balls, I have to throw down in the zone. As long as I'm not hanging breaking balls and hanging fastballs up, I think I can stay away from deep fly balls. So I just try to stay down in the zone as much as possible."
Marcum slated for next start, but Mets cautious
NEW YORK -- An MRI taken Tuesday on Shaun Marcum's upper back came back negative, allowing the Mets to keep him on line for his next start Saturday in Milwaukee. But manager Terry Collins said he planned to hold back long reliever Carlos Torres just in case, wary of the "tingling" that Marcum experienced in his right hand during his last start.
"It's the same stuff he had in Spring Training," Collins said. "It tightens up in the upper back. But he pitched with it the other day. I don't know what inning it started bothering him a little bit, so we thought we'd get him looked at. He's fine."
Marcum also said he was "fine" when asked about the issue Tuesday night, though he grew agitated at the group of reporters who approached him. Collins said he has asked Marcum to be forthright with him about his health, considering the myriad shoulder, elbow, biceps and neck issues that have plagued him over the past year and a half.
Marcum opened this season on the disabled list with a right biceps issue, which stemmed from a neck injury he suffered in Spring Training. But he had not suffered any obvious setbacks since joining the Mets in late April, posting a 4.14 ERA over his past nine outings.
Collins said that the team may explore options to help Marcum stay healthy, be it altering his massage schedule or cutting back on his throwing program between starts.
"He's pretty honest," Collins said. "The other night when we took him out, I asked him if he was OK and he said, 'I'm starting to get tight back here.' I said, 'Great, I understand, but you've got to let us know.' He said, 'It was fine, but I could start to feel it tighten up.' I said, 'We've got to get it looked at.' This is a reoccurring thing since Spring Training that's happened, so I wanted to get it looked at. Fortunately, the MRI came back clean."
Marcum is 1-9 with a 5.03 ERA this season.
Buck's slump may lead to more Recker starts
NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins said it's possible catcher Anthony Recker could get some more playing time as his recent improvements at the plate have coincided with John Buck's offensive struggles.
Buck, 32, got off to a torrid start to the season, hitting nine home runs and driving in 25 RBIs in April. Since then, he's struggled at the plate, hitting just .170 since May 5. He has four strikeouts in his past eight at-bats. With Recker, 29, handling pitchers well while also getting some timely hits, he might be earning himself some more starts.
In the Mets' 9-1 win over the D-backs on Tuesday, Recker went 2-for-4 with a home run -- off Arizona ace Patrick Corbin -- and two RBIs. His offensive production and his steadily handling of Mets starter Jeremy Hefner have impressed Collins, and it could ultimately help decide how much Recker plays going forward.
"Anthony did a nice job last night. We're facing a team that is very, very good," Collins said. "He swung the bat good last night."
It wasn't the first time this season Recker came through in important situations. Two of his three home runs this season have given the Mets the lead, and the team is also 4-0 in Recker's last four starts behind the plate.
Buck, who's been catching in the Majors since 2004, does have considerably more experience than Recker. That goes a long way, especially since the Mets have a number of young pitchers, including phenoms Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler.
Still, Collins is taking a day-to-day approach when deciding who will be behind the plate.
"In today's case, Buck's catching Matt Harvey. I'm not breaking that up," Collins said. "Tomorrow, I haven't decided who's catching tomorrow yet."
• The Mets have announced a "Ballpark BBQ" event for Thursday's Fourth of July game against the D-backs. For $59, fans can buy a ticket to the 1:10 p.m. ET game that includes a T-shirt, a beer or soda and all-you-can-eat barbecue before the game. More information is available at Mets.com/BBQ.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo, and Chris Iseman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.