Ike inching closer, but return not imminent
Leg injuries hampering first-base candidate; Duda could play Friday
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Ike Davis shed his walking boot long enough to play catch on Wednesday with Lucas Duda, the Mets' similarly-hobbled first baseman with whom he is competing for a job. But neither player is ready for an imminent return to game action.
"I don't know if I'm day-to-day," Davis joked. "I could be day-to-years."
Davis, who has been nursing two sore calves since the early days of March, tested his legs Wednesday morning by doing every baseball activity other than running. But he did not sound optimistic about playing late this week, saying he plans to continue wearing a boot on his right foot away from the ballpark.
"I haven't moved on the ankle in a while, so this is different," Davis said. "There's not a lot of pain, though. It's just a little tight, I guess, but not painfully tight."
Duda is progressing a bit more rapidly from a lingering left hamstring strain, and could appear in a Minor League game as soon as Friday.
Once he does, the Mets' first-base competition -- by far the most scrutinized position battle anywhere on the roster -- can begin anew with roughly two weeks left in camp. Neither Davis nor Duda has distinguished himself to date, for the simple reason that neither has spent much time on the diamond.
"It changes things pretty radically just by the fact that they haven't been out there," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "We've got a couple of weeks, almost three weeks left, to get them back out there, and hopefully we'll get a chance to do that. But given the fact that it's a truncated version of Spring Training for both of them, we'll have to be cautious about making judgments."
Despite solid start, Lannan groomed for 'pen
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Until further notice, John Lannan is a starting pitcher. That is the mentality he takes to the mound every five days as he competes for the Mets' fifth starter's job.
But the team has already told Lannan it would like to see him in relief, and that information has made its way around the clubhouse. After Lannan completed four sharp innings in Wednesday's Grapefruit League loss to the Cardinals, closer Bobby Parnell stopped by Lannan's locker to offer some tips on life as a reliever.
The benefit, Parnell said, is that most relievers throw every day even if they don't pitch in games. So they remain sharper on a daily basis than starters such as Lannan, who struggled in the first inning Wednesday before settling down to strike out four of the final five batters he faced.
"As a starting pitcher, that first inning could be a little rusty because you haven't been on the mound in five days," Lannan said. "That's the biggest thing I deal with is just kind of shaking the rust off and settling down."
The Mets will use Lannan in relief at some point soon, though it remains to be seen how he will take to it. With Josh Edgin and Jack Leathersich no longer in camp, Lannan and Scott Rice are the only left-handed bullpen candidates still competing for jobs. Given manager Terry Collins' preference to carry two lefty relievers whenever possible, Lannan has a significant advantage over his right-handed brethren.
But until the Mets tell him he's a reliever, Lannan will not alter his regular routine.
"I started today," Lannan said. "I'm going to act as if I'm starting five days from now until I'm told otherwise."
Facing long odds, Farnsworth's quest not over
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets first-base coach Tom Goodwin was standing in the dugout during Wednesday's game, doing a live television interview in the seventh inning while Kyle Farnsworth pitched to Cardinals infielder Kolten Wong.
Suddenly, Farnsworth left a pitch flat and Wong crushed it.
"Oh my," Goodwin gasped on air, his eyes flicking skyward as the ball soared out of the park.
It has been that type of spring for Farnsworth, who entered camp as an odds-on favorite to make the Opening Day bullpen. Because manager Terry Collins values experience in his relief corps, Farnsworth and Jose Valverde both entered camp with strong chances to make the team. The manager said as much before workouts even started.
But performance matters, and Farnsworth has struggled to succeed with his high-80s velocity. The former flame-throwing closer gave up two more runs Wednesday to increase his Grapefruit League ERA to 5.40.
With just 15 days to go before the Mets head north to Montreal, Farnsworth does not have much time to draw even with bullpen competitors such as Vic Black, Carlos Torres and Jeurys Familia -- all of whom are enjoying successful springs. Manager Terry Collins said Wednesday that he already considers Torres a part of his Opening Day bullpen.
Assuming those three, Scott Rice and John Lannan all make the roster alongside closer Bobby Parnell, that leaves just one spot available for Farnsworth, Valverde or another dark horse candidate. But Collins is not ready to write anything in ink just yet.
"You've got to be careful when you've got 15-plus years in [the league]," Collins said of evaluating Farnsworth. "Not being around Kyle much, you've just got to be patient a little bit and see where he is in 10 days or so."
Bobby Parnell described his second spring outing as a "night and day" difference from his first one. Though Parnell's velocity still lingered in the high 80s on Wednesday, he said he does not usually start lighting up radar guns until the second half of March. Parnell is recovering from surgery to remove a herniated disc from his neck and expects to be ready for Opening Day.