Flores out to prove he can play shortstop
Mets' No. 4 prospect called up to take over starting role from Tejada
NEW YORK -- Wilmer Flores is well aware of the legions of scouts, executives and fans who do not believe he can play shortstop at an adequate level. He is also well aware that his future in the Mets' organization -- perhaps even in the big leagues -- may depend upon it.
With that as his backdrop, Flores -- the Mets' No. 4 overall prospect -- officially reported to Citi Field on Friday, starting over Ruben Tejada at short. Flores went 2-for-5 in a 3-2, 11-inning loss to the Phillies and handled all five defensive chances cleanly. For the next two weeks, the team plans to give him a more or less uninterrupted run at the position to prove whether or not he can handle it.
Said Flores: "I'm going to prove it."
That task will not be easy. A natural shortstop who converted to third and second base as a prospect in the Minors, Flores had not played short regularly for two years before this season. Mets manager Terry Collins admitted that many within the front office and coaching staff did not believe he could succeed at the position.
But Tejada's overall struggles, along with Flores' offensive hot streak at Triple-A Las Vegas, forced the Mets' hand. Batting .307 with an .860 OPS at Vegas, Flores hit .500 with four home runs over his final five games there. Compare that to Tejada, whose .189 average and .509 OPS typified the Mets' scuffling offense.
"Don't mistake it -- we're hoping Wilmer gives us some offense," Collins said. "But he's got to catch the baseball, too."
That, for Flores, was the primary issue at Vegas. Seven errors in 25 games at shortstop soured his experience, though Flores nonetheless insists he feels comfortable at the position. Often before games, he worked on his first-step quickness by fielding a ball thrown haphazardly off a wall.
If he can hold his own in the big leagues -- the Mets aren't asking much more than that -- he has the chance to wrest the position away from Tejada for good. Flores understands that, well aware of the challenge.
"I know I can handle it," Flores said. "I'm just going to show that I can."
Mets set to call up Campbell from Triple-A
NEW YORK -- Rapidly now, the Mets are making changes to their underperforming roster.
After stranding 15 runners on base in a 3-2 loss to the Phillies Friday night, the Mets announced that they will call up infielder Eric Campbell prior to Saturday's game. The team did not announce a corresponding move, but Josh Satin, who was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts subbing for regular first baseman Lucas Duda, appears most vulnerable.
Campbell, 27, was hitting .355 with three homers, 15 doubles and 24 RBIs in 33 games at Triple-A Las Vegas. He also had 20 walks, continuing a hot streak that was nearly good enough for him to make the team out of Spring Training.
Satin, 29, was a valuable bench bat for the Mets last season, but is batting just .107 this year. The Mets typically avoid using the right-handed Satin against right-handed pitching, but Duda's bout with food poisoning forced them to start Satin at first base Friday. Duda is unlikely to be available on Saturday, meaning Campbell, who has played six different positions already this year at Vegas, is a strong bet to start at first.
A former eighth-round Draft pick out of Boston College, Campbell has been in the Mets' organization for six years without a callup. He reached Triple-A for the first time last year, batting .314 with a .910 OPS in 120 games.
The move comes one day after the Mets recalled infielder Wilmer Flores from Las Vegas, starting him at shortstop in an attempt to improve their stagnant offense. And it may not be the last in a string of Minor League promotions. Reliever Vic Black has been thriving at Vegas and could soon be called upon for bullpen help. Starting pitchers Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom have also been performing well and could earn callups either as starting pitchers or relievers.
Duda scratched from lineup with food poisining
NEW YORK -- The Mets scratched first baseman Lucas Duda from Friday's starting lineup due to food poisining, which forced him to a local hospital for intravenous fluids, and he'll likely be unavailable for Saturday's game against the Phillies.
Duda, according to manager Terry Collins, was "very sick" and could not keep fluids in his system earlier in the day. Duda returned from the hospital and was on the bench during the Mets' 3-2, 11-inning loss to the Phillies, but he went back in the clubhouse to rest during the middle innings.
"He's pretty ill right now," Collins said.
With Duda sidelined, Josh Satin made his first start of the season against a right-handed pitcher and went 0-for-5. Twenty-one of Satin's first 29 plate appearances had come vs. lefties.
Harvey extends throwing program to 120 feet
NEW YORK -- Matt Harvey whizzed past another milestone in his rehab program Friday, throwing from 120 feet for the first time. Harvey had previously been limited to 90 feet.
With each step, Harvey inches closer to the September return from Tommy John surgery that he still considers possible -- or, at the least, to a return by Opening Day 2015. The right-hander will spend the next three weeks throwing from 120 feet, before advancing to 150 feet and, finally, to the slope of a mound. June 10 is his target date for that next major step.
"I want to be healthy," Harvey said. "This has been a long wait, and coming back obviously is all I can think about. But if I had to go through this again, it would not be fun. So as we get closer and we keep moving on, I couldn't be happier with the way I feel. I'm excited to keep moving forward."
Calling the process "slow and tedious," Harvey nonetheless expressed optimism about his rehab.
"Today was good for me, and everything feels great," Harvey said. "I'm just excited to keep moving forward."
• Lefty reliever Scott Rice said Friday afternoon that he was fully recovered from the back issue that forced him out of action earlier this week. Rice did not pitch Tuesday or Wednesday while nursing the injury.
• Among the visitors at Citi Field prior to Friday's game were Jets players Geno Smith (who threw out the ceremonial first pitch), D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Willie Colon, as well as LSU football coach Les Miles. Avid college football fan David Wright called it "a treat" to meet Miles, who joked that he would have happily recruited the third baseman as a free safety.
• The Mets are encouraging fans to take mass transit to next week's Subway Series on Wednesday and Thursday at Citi Field. The club is expecting large crowds for both games and recommends that fans arrive at the ballpark early. Citi Field is serviced by the 7 Subway and the Long Island Railroad. In addition, all Metro-North trains connect with the 7 Subway at Grand Central Station.