Monday, March 25, 2013

Mets News and Notes: Hicks Outrighted, D'Arnaud to Minors, den Dekker Injury, Murphy Gets AB's, Wright Swings


Mets News and Notes:

Brandon Hicks has been outrighted by the Mets.

Left unsaid but resulting from the decision: Omar Quintanilla has won the backup shortstop job and will replace Hicks on the 40-man roster.

Hicks hit .116 and committed four errors.

Also sent to minor league camp Sunday: Aaron Laffey, Andrew Brown, Brian Bixler and Jamie Hoffmann.

Laffey will serve as a starter with Triple-A Las Vegas, potentially making him the next call-up should another rotation vacancy arise. His departure from big league camp signals the Mets are confident Shaun Marcum will be OK. Marcum missed a start and received a cortisone shot in his pitching shoulder, but is slated to resume pitching in a game Thursday.

Top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud has been optioned to minor league camp.

D'Arnaud hit .343 with four RBIs in 35 Grapefruit League at-bats.

"He played very well," Sandy Alderson said. "He met all of our expectations, which I think for the organization and Mets fans were fairly high. He did a very nice job. We're hopeful he'll have a long career in New York. But we're happy with what John Buck has done. We've got an investment in him as well. I think our pitching staff and team overall will benefit overall from John Buck's presence, and ultimately Travis is going to be a very good player for us."

If d'Arnaud spends the first 20 days of the season in the minors, the Mets can delay his free agency from after 2018 season until after the 2019 season.

The Mets can delay d'Arnaud's first year of arbitration eligibility by a year if they ensure he is roughly not one of the top 22 percent of rookies called up this season. One major league executive estimated a call-up after June 15 probably would allow d'Arnaud to miss the "Super Two" designation. The same logic applies to Zack Wheeler.

"As I said, we've got a big investment in John Buck, too," Alderson said when asked about "Super Two" being a motivating factor with d'Arnaud. "I know people talk about control and 'Super Two' and all of that. If John Buck gets hurt tomorrow, Travis d'Arnaud is the front-line catcher."

Matt den Dekker suffered a broken right wrist on Sunday's attempted catch.



He is expected to travel to New York on Monday, where he will be evaluated for the need for surgery.

"We don't know how serious it is," Sandy Alderson said. "It's serious enough, but we won't know any details about the exact condition or recovery time until the doctors take a look up in New York. But the initial films came back positive."

Said den Dekker: "It's disappointing, but you can't do anything about it. It's just a setback. I'm going to go to New York and figure out what I have to do next."

Den Dekker described the wrist as "a little painful right now."

He added: "This is the first time I had to deal with anything like this. I've never broken anything. It sucks, but I can't do anything about it."

Daniel Murphy saw his first in-game pitching of spring training Sunday.

The result: “It was like trying to hit an aspirin,” Murphy said. “I mean, I hadn’t had an at-bat since October. So it was just OK. The same way it is usually when spring training starts. It just started for everybody else five weeks ago.”

Murphy went 1-for-2 with a walk and played five innings at second base in Sunday’s minor league action. He expects to repeat the activity Monday as he works back from a strained intercostal muscle on his left side.

“I got a checked swing my second at-bat and I didn’t feel anything,” Murphy said. “So that felt good.”

Murphy had played in a minor league game nine days ago, but he developed stiffness the day after playing five innings in the field in that game and took a step backward.

Murphy said he can see plenty of at-bats on the minor league side this week and prepare quickly for the season, but Terry Collins is not yet convinced that’s the best course of action. Collins wants Murphy to avoid overdoing things and risk reinjuring the side muscle.

The manager portrayed it as a realistic option for Murphy to open the season on the disabled list but only miss the regular season’s first five games. The 15-day DL can be backdated nine days into spring training as long as the player does not appear in a Grapefruit League game.

“As I’ve told both of them (Murphy and David Wright) in the last four days: ‘The worst-case scenario, you miss the first six days. Worst-case scenario. That’s not bad, for us. That’s not too bad. We’ll take that. The one thing we can’t have is you miss the first six weeks. That we have issues with.' And that’s why we’ll monitor what their workload is.

“To be honest, that’s one of the things I’m looking at right now is he’s had absolutely no time to do what he does," Collins said, referring to Murphy. "He’s one of the hardest-working guys. You see him day after day working on double plays with the pitching machines, trying to use them as feeds. He hasn’t been able to do that. He’s a guy who takes endless swings to make sure his swing is just how he wants it. He hasn’t been able to do that. That’s why I’m saying we will make a decision at the end of the week, which will benefit not only Dan but the organization.”

David Wright’s first session taking live batting practice since the World Baseball Classic went well Sunday, increasing optimism he will be ready for Opening Day.

“It’s the next step,” Wright said. “Any time you get to the next step, it’s a significant step. It’s one step closer.”

Terry Collins cautioned that in the cases of Wright and Daniel Murphy, the worst-case scenario would be that they would open the season with backdated disabled-list stints, meaning they only would be required to miss the first five games of the season.

Because Wright had competitive at-bats in the WBC before his recent idle time, he should be able to ramp up quickly, assuming the strained intercostal muscle on his left side cooperates.

“It’s important that I see how I feel tonight, I see how I feel tomorrow,” Wright said. “I’ve said all along that Opening Day is my goal. Like I said before, this is one step closer to attaining that goal.”
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