John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Ah, spring training. In some ways it's the best time for baseball writers, a time when players, managers, and executives are more relaxed and willing to talk before the pressure of the long season takes hold. 

I first went to spring training in 1982, and suffice to say we writers were a lot more relaxed as well in those days, before Internet deadlines and social media changed everything about the job. 

The quotes aren't nearly as colorful these days, when players seemingly live in fear of the Twitter reaction to even the smallest misstep, but as I head to Florida to write about both the Mets and Yankees for SNY, there's still nothing better than baseball and sunshine in February.

With that in mind, I offer four of my favorite or most memorable experiences covering spring training over the years. Time and space restrictions meant leaving out some gems, from Sid Fernandez pointing a gun in my face one year, to John Franco leading a team-wide media boycott, to getting wind of Sandy Alderson's then-laughable 90-win prediction. 

Maybe some other time. For now I opted for these: 

1. The Picture-Day Fight, 1989

Talk about a godsend for a beat writer. On an otherwise sleepy spring training morning, chaos erupted out of a routine team-picture gathering when Darryl Strawberry and Keith Hernandez squared off and started throwing haymakers. 

In truth, nothing was all that surprising from those 1980s Mets, but there was a back story that made this drama especially fascinating. 

By September of the 1988 season, Strawberry had emerged as the favorite to win the NL MVP Award. He would ultimately lose out to the Dodgers' Kirk Gibson in a vote that would never happen today, as it was based largely on intangibles. But it didn't help that teammate Kevin McReynolds finished third, taking four potential first-place votes from Strawberry as well.  

Late in that '88 season, Hernandez privately had told some of the beat writers that he thought McReynolds was more deserving of the award, saying he'd been more clutch. You had to factor in the love/hate relationship Keith had with Darryl, but as one of the most analytical players of his time, his word still carried weight. 

Fast-forward to spring of '89: Then-Daily News writer Bob Klapisch felt Hernandez was trying to run him off the beat because of his infamous ghost-written David Cone column that riled up the Dodgers in the '88 NLCS. So one day early in camp, he made a point of telling Strawberry how Keith had been politicking against him. 

That same night the two players had words at a local bar, and had to be separated by teammates. Strawberry didn't reveal the source of his anger, but it spilled over the next morning on picture day, as all hell broke loose. 

I was the beat writer for the Post at the time, and I remember walking into the clubhouse after the dust settled, seeing Hernandez and Klapisch going nose-to-nose, screaming at each other until Davey Johnson finally intervened. 

Yep, by then word had gotten to Hernandez that Klapisch had whispered in Strawberry's ear. 

"Don't ever come near my locker again," Keith yelled. 

These days, with players ever wary that confrontation could land them in a viral video, such writer-player fireworks rarely happen. In those days, especially on those raucous Mets' teams, it was practically business as usual. 

2. The Lockout Basketball Games, 1990

As something of a pre-cursor to the 1994 players' strike, MLB owners locked players out of each team's facility in 1990 just as spring training was about to begin.

With several Mets' players already in Port St. Lucie, their workout options were so limited that they gathered daily at a Little League complex just up Prima Vista Blvd., mostly just to throw the ball around a little before heading to the nearby outdoor basketball court for some full-court pick-up games. 

I talked my way into the game, along with a couple of other beat writers to help fill out five-man teams, and we went up and down the court for more than an hour. I was instantly reminded these guys weren't professional athletes for nothing, as some I hadn't thought of particularly athletic showed off some serious game. 

Not everybody, but, heck, even Mackey Sasser could shake and bake. 

Anyway, what I remember most was Ron Darling being the best player on the court, at least for the first couple of days. Then a minor-league pitcher named Terry Bross showed up to play -- the same 6-foot-8 Terry Bross who had started for St. John's a couple of years earlier. 

Much to his chagrin, Darling had to match up with the big guy on both ends, and, well, he wasn't heard from quite as much.

In any case, for four or five days, the beat never seemed so much fun: Show up at the Little League field, play full-court hoop and then grab a player for an interview to write a feature for the next day's paper. No Twitter, no video, no internet deadlines, and the players didn't even mind having us around. 

But then Strawberry showed up. This was only a few weeks after he'd made headlines by reportedly pulling a gun on his then-wife at his home in Los Angeles, and when he arrived in Port St. Lucie, he wasn't in the mood to talk about it.

So someone made arrangements and suddenly the basketball game was moved inside to a local high school -- off-limits to us writers. 

Too bad. I heard Straw could really play, but I never got to see it, and I kid him to this day about getting us booted from the game. 

Soon enough, the owners relented, camps opened, and it was back to the grind of covering a real spring training. I know, I know…nice work if you can get it. 

3. Joe Torre Unplugged, 2006

As I noted in a column for SNY recently, getting to write the late Mel Stottlemyre's autobiography was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my career. One small part of it was the rare opportunity to sit and talk with Joe Torre as something closer to a confidant than a newspaper columnist. 

Or at least that's how it seemed to me.

By the spring of '06, I'd written countless columns about Torre, and while we had a good relationship, it was all business.

Unlike some other managers over the years, Torre didn't do many individual interviews, and rarely if ever did he go off-the-record to make a point or curry favor with a writer. Yet he was so good at charming us with his storytelling in group sessions that he was great writing material. 

When I sat down with him in the dugout that morning before a spring training workout in '06, I wasn't really looking for anything but detail on his relationship with Stottlemyre, whom Torre had come to love like a brother during their years together as manager and pitching coach.

However, Mel apparently had told Torre that he could trust me completely, and so from the moment we began talking I realized this was anything but the media-session Torre. Instead it was as if he'd granted me access into his inner circle, and suddenly he was dropping F-bombs left and right, and dropping the hammer on certain people he didn't necessarily care for. 

He never felt the need to tell me anything was off the record, clearly trusting that this was information to be used as background for the book, or not at all in some cases. 

Not that it was anything scandalous. More memorable was Torre's tone, as he routinely offered unfiltered opinions in a manner unlike anything I'd ever heard from him. He talked that way for some 45 minutes as I sat practically spellbound.

Finally, we were done, and after I thanked Joe for his time, I walked away wondering if I now had a different relationship with the Yankee manager that might benefit my column writing as well. 

Turns out I didn't. Torre was cordial as always when we spoke after that, but even when I managed to grab him occasionally on the side after a group session, I never heard anything even vaguely resembling that day in spring training of 2006.

Yes, being in the inner circle proved to be fleeting. And quite remarkable.  

4. Catching Santana, 2010

I had just finished putting the gear on, ready to go behind the plate, when Johan Santana let me know this was more than a publicity stunt for him. 

"Cup check," he said as he smacked me in the groin with his glove. "I'm going to have to bounce a slider in the dirt to get Ryan Howard out, and I'm going to need you to block it." 

Wait, what? Fortunately, I was indeed wearing a protective cup, but suddenly I wondered what I had gotten myself into, asking for the opportunity to catch Santana and write about it for the Daily News.  

Actually, I was shocked that Jay Horwitz had talked his bosses into letting me do it, but the Mets had bottomed out in 2009, and I guess they figured they could use anything resembling good publicity. 

So there I was in Fort Myers, Fla., where Santana lived, a couple of days before he was to report to spring training, on a ballfield at Florida Gulf Coast University about to get an up-close look at what it was like to catch the Mets' ace. 

I was counting on my old college shortstop skills to get me through it, and I was pretty confident because that winter I had been catching bullpen sessions for my son, Chris, who was pitching at Muhlenberg College. 

That said, I hadn't expected Santana to ramp up the expectations for me by announcing that he was treating this as if he were pitching a simulated game against the Phillies lineup, going batter-by-batter against Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Howard, etc. as he would for real in a couple of months. 

"You're calling the pitches," he told me. "You have the scouting report?"

In truth, Santana was being a great sport about the whole thing, but he did want to get something out of this throwing session, and he brought an intensity that had me feeling pressure not to screw up behind the plate. 

And with that Shane Victorino stepped into the batter's box, at least in Santana's mind, as the two-time Cy Young Award winner went to work. 

He was throwing about 88-90 mph, he estimated, but as I saw from behind the plate, the left-hander threw with a short-armed delivery that made it look as if the ball was coming right out of his ear -- creating deception that made him sneaky-fast. 

Also, I saw that his trademark change-up came out of the exact same slot with the same arm speed, making it look like a fastball until it hit the brakes in flight and dived downward as it neared the plate. No wonder nobody could hit that pitch, I remember thinking.

Anyway, all was going well until Santana, trying to be precise, walked Utley with two outs, bringing up Howard. As promised, he threw a slider in the dirt that the Phillies' clean-up hitter may or may not have chased, and though I blocked it, the ball caromed far enough off me that Utley would have been able to advance to second base.

"What'd you think, I was going to throw him a cookie?" Santana barked as I scrambled to retrieve the ball. "Now I'm in a tough spot."

I was pretty sure he was kidding, but he wasn't smiling. Fortunately, he went on to throw a perfect slider on the corner to strike Howard out and escape the inning. 

At that point Santana did smile as he walked toward me, and, sensing he was done, I asked, "You good?"

I think he misinterpreted my comment, as if I was asking for feedback on my performance behind the plate.

"It was painless," he said with a shrug. 

I took that as a compliment. 


HARPER: Mets' contract talks with deGrom is critical for Brodie Van Wagenen's credibility >> Read More

RELATED: Jacob deGrom won't rule out innings restrictions, says extension 'kind of up to them' >> Read More

RELATED: Van Wagenen on priority of extension for deGrom: 'I don't view this as all or nothing' >> Read More

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Pete Alonso fell behind in the count, 0-2, in the eighth inning Tuesday night, fouling off and then swinging through high fastballs at 98 mph, so the power vs. power showdown seemed to favor Tanner Rainey, a 26-year old rookie called up from the minors a few days ago.

As a National League scout said Wednesday, "I wouldn't have bet on Alonso at that point. Lately he's been getting pitched tougher and he's been chasing up in the zone a little more, which is normal for a young guy when he goes through his first rough patch.

"But I'll tell you, the more I see of him, the more impressed I am -- especially in a big spot. He's hit a lot of big home runs in the late innings, and after a while you start to think it's not an accident."

Tags: Pete Alonso, John Harper
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Former Mets catcher and Hall of Fame member Mike Piazza addresses the crowd during a ceremony to retire his number (31) prior to the game between New York Mets and the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field. (Andy Marlin)
Former Mets catcher and Hall of Fame member Mike Piazza addresses the crowd during a ceremony to retire his number (31) prior to the game between New York Mets and the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field. (Andy Marlin)

On this date in 1998, while working the service desk at Home Depot, I answered an urgent phone call from my mother, who, as a Mets fan herself, was eager to tell me the Mets traded for "that pizza guy," as she called him.

I laughed, knowing full well she meant Mike Piazza, who never would have become the legend he is in Queens had the Dodgers never turned their backs on his contract request.

Piazza wanted at least $91 million during his Spring Training negotiations with the Dodgers in early 1998. They never offered more than $84 million, Piazza rejected it, and Los Angeles began floating his name in trade talks with interested teams. The Mets were among several teams to show interest...

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May 5, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; New York Mets outfielder Keon Broxton (23) walks back to the dugout after striking out against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports (Michael McLoone)
May 5, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; New York Mets outfielder Keon Broxton (23) walks back to the dugout after striking out against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports (Michael McLoone)

The Mets have gotten something back for Keon Broxton after designating him for assignment on May 17.

New York had seven days to either trade Broxton or place him on waivers, and swung a trade on Wednesday to send Broxton to the Orioles for $500,000 in international bonus pool money.

Getting that amount of international bonus pool money for a player they would've otherwise placed on waivers -- and couldn't force to accept a minor league assignment if he cleared waivers -- is a solid get for the Mets. But it doesn't erase the fact that the initial Broxton trade was a massive failure for GM Brodie Van Wagenen.

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New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway looks on as his players warm up before a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) (David Zalubowski/AP)
New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway looks on as his players warm up before a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) (David Zalubowski/AP)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Following an embarrassing weekend in Miami, when the historically bad Marlins swept a Mets team that lacked any signs of life, the Mets front office knew it had only two choices: Fire manager Mickey Callaway immediately or say publicly that his job was safe.

GM Brodie Van Wagenen chose to do that latter, of course, even though it's very clear that the Mets do not view Callaway as their manager of the future, or particularly effective at his job. In a year-plus, Callaway has improved somewhat as a tactician and communicator, but clearly lacks the necessary presence or expertise.

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Washington Nationals at New York Mets
Moneyline: WAS -105/NYM -105
Over/Under: 6.5
First pitch: 7:10 p.m. ET
Probable pitchers: Jacob deGrom (3-5, 3.98 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (2-5, 3.72 ERA)

There's an Opening Day rematch set for the third game of this series, as the National League's last two Cy Young Award winners square off tonight at Citi Field.

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Washington Nationals
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Alonso plays Backyard Baseball 00:01:51
If you grew up in the early 2000s, then you'll remember Backyard Baseball. Pete Alonso fielded a star-studded team.

If you grew up in the early 2000s, then you'll remember Backyard Baseball. Mets 1B Pete Alonso fielded a star-studded team.

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May 21, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets shortstop Amed Rosario (1) celebrates after hitting a RBI single in the ninth inning against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
May 21, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets shortstop Amed Rosario (1) celebrates after hitting a RBI single in the ninth inning against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

The Mets (22-25, 5.5 GB in the NL East) rallied late to beat the Nationals on Tuesday night at Citi Field as they won their second straight game. They host the Nats again on Wednesday night at 7:10.

Here's what went down on Tuesday, in case you missed it:


In the Mets' win over the Nats, Pete Alonso hit a mammoth game-tying homer in the eighth inning before Amed Rosario walked it off in the ninth with an infield single >> Read more

Tags: Amed Rosario, Pete Alonso, Todd Frazier, Danny Abriano
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Mets talk walk-off win 00:01:55
New York Mets shortstop Amed Rosario and first baseman Pete Alonso talk about their clutch hits to help Mets walk off against Nationals.

The Mets topped the Nationals in dramatic fashion Tuesday night at Citi Field with a 6-5 walk-off win courtesy of Amed Rosario's hustle. 

The shortstop hit a chopper to short but out-ran the throw to score Adeiny Hecchavaria from third base to win the game. 

"It was an incredible feeling," Rosario said through a translator after the game. "How emotional I was just because it was my first walk-off and it's our second game in a row that we won after a bad stretch."

Tags: Amed Rosario, Pete Alonso, Washington Nationals
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Mets beat Nats 6-5 on walk-off 00:01:09
New York Mets saw home runs from J.D. Davis and Pete Alonso but it was Amed Rosario's walk-off single boosted them over the Nationals.

J.D. Davis and Pete Alonso each hit dramatic late-inning home runs, and Amed Rosario delivered a walkoff single in Tuesday's 6-5 win over Washington. >> Box score

Six things to know about Tuesday's game

1) After a back-and-forth final few innings, Amed Rosario hustled out an infield single to give the Mets a walkoff 6-5 victory on Tuesday night at Citi Field. Nats' reliever Tanner Rainey walked two batters in the bottom of the ninth, and Rosario delivered with a high-hopping infield single off of Kyle Barraclough to give the Mets the win.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Washington Nationals, Zack Wheeler
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Mar 9, 2019; Fort Myers, FL, USA; New York Mets center fielder Brandon Nimmo (9) triples in a run in the fifth inning of the spring training game against the Boston Red Sox at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)
Mar 9, 2019; Fort Myers, FL, USA; New York Mets center fielder Brandon Nimmo (9) triples in a run in the fifth inning of the spring training game against the Boston Red Sox at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)

Brandon Nimmo was penciled in to leadoff and man center field for the Mets on Tuesday night, but then he was scratched as the team announced neck stiffness sat him down. 

After Tuesday's dramatic 6-5 victory, Nimmo said that he'll have an MRI on Wednesday and that his neck stiffness from earlier this season never totally went away.

"I'm a little bit concerned about it, but we're hoping that we'll find some answers tomorrow," Nimmo said. "It's been going off and on since really Philadelphia.

Tags: Brandon Nimmo
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Aug 29, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Mets third baseman Todd Frazier (21) tips his helmet after hitting a grand slam home run against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Young-USA TODAY Sports (Jim Young)
Aug 29, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Mets third baseman Todd Frazier (21) tips his helmet after hitting a grand slam home run against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Young-USA TODAY Sports (Jim Young)

Mets third baseman Todd Frazier and Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton found themselves in the center of a feud this week, which apparently stems back to 2016 when they were teammates with the White Sox. 

Frazier alluded to a locker room incident that season prior to Tuesday's game when he fired back at Eaton for calling the Mets third baseman "childish" for jawing at him on the field. 

"There are 23 of those guys, they know what happened," Frazier said. 

Tags: Chicago White Sox, Todd Frazier
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Jul 29, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins former manager Ozzie Guillen walks on the field before the game between the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)
Jul 29, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins former manager Ozzie Guillen walks on the field before the game between the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)

The feud between Mets 3B Todd Frazier and Nationals OF Adam Eaton had another player jump in the argument. Well, former player. 

Ozzie Guillen, the longtime White Sox player and manager, gave his take on the Frazier-Eaton beef that has come to light this past couple of days. Though he may not have been in the Chicago clubhouse when Frazier and Eaton were teammates, Guillen said he knows well that Eaton was not the most-liked player on that team. 

In fact, he wasn't afraid to say it to Eaton himself...

Tags: Todd Frazier, Scott Thompson
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Alonso ties game with 16th HR 00:00:21
New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso smashes his 16th home run to tie the game against the Nationals in the 8th inning

The Nationals pulled away with a 3-1 lead in this one, but J.D. Davis once again showed off his pinch-hitting magic. 

With two runners on, Davis went with a pitch to right field and put it over the fence to give the Mets their first lead of the game...

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Mets prospect Anthony Kay, whose dominance so far in 2019 has put him in the conversation to jump to the majors this season, is becoming impossible to ignore. And along with his on-field success comes a demeanor that seems built for the place he grew up.  

"He's one of my favorites, if not my favorite," UConn pitching coach Josh MacDonald told SNY Tuesday about where Kay falls among the many players he's coached during his career. 

MacDonald -- who said he has been texting with Kay "two-to-three times a night" as he has dominated in Double-A Binghamton -- coached Kay during his time at UConn, after which the Mets selected the Long Island native in the 2016 MLB Draft.

Tags: Anthony Kay, Danny Abriano
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Mets RHP Zack Wheeler (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
Mets RHP Zack Wheeler (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

The Mets (21-25, 6.5 GB in NL East) will look to keep it going Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. at Citi Field after taking the first game of the series Monday.

Mets notes

The Mets snapped a five-game losing streak on Monday and enter Tuesday's game winners of their last four games at Citi Field. ... Pete Alonso hit his 15th home run on Monday, which tied a Mets rookie record with Ron Swoboda for home runs before the All-Star break. Alonso leads all MLB rookies in home runs, RBI and slugging percentage. ... Todd Frazier has found his groove again over his last six games, hitting .400 with a run, double, tirple, RBI, twoo walks and a 1.071 OPS in that span. 

Tags: Pete Alonso, Todd Frazier, Washington Nationals, Zack Wheeler
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Frazier: 'pay off your mortgage' 00:03:53
Todd Frazier and Adam Eaton got into a spat between innings last night, it's become clear the former teammates are not fans of each other.

Pay off your mortgage. 

That's what Todd Frazier thinks Adam Eaton should do, as the beef between the former White Sox teammates took new life between Monday night and pregame Tuesday. 

Frazier and Eaton were seen jawing at each other during the Mets' 5-3 win over the Nationals on Monday, with the benches nearly clearing. After the game, Eaton called Frazier's behavior "childish" and said "I'm a 30-year-old man with two kids. Got a mortgage and everything and he wants to loud-talk as he's running off the field." 

Tags: Todd Frazier
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The Mets are four games below .500 and six losses back of first place. Yet, based on GM Brodie Van Wagenen's comments Monday, he and his team remain committed to getting to the postseason.

In addition, Van Wagenen said that manager Mickey Callaway has the support of the clubhouse, front office and ownership. Van Wagenen has no choice but to stick with his manager or risk losing credibility with his on-field talent.

The point is, despite the microscope of New York and a frustrated fanbase, the Mets are locked in to at least fighting their way through the NL East. However, what are the chances Van Wagenen and Company rise to the top of a playoff race and play in October?

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Anthony Kay's outing yesterday 00:01:29
Highlight of Anthony Kay throwing seven hitless innings at Binghamton's game Monday night.

For a little while on Monday -- with the Mets and Double-A Binghamton both listing their starters as 'TBA' -- it seemed that LHP prospect Anthony Kay could be hours away from making his big league debut. That didn't happen, but it didn't stop Kay from making news anyway.

Kay, the 24-year-old who has been one of the best pitchers in all of minor league baseball this season, fired 7.0 no-hit innings for Binghamton on Monday night before being removed at just 88 pitches due to his pitch-count being managed.

During the outing, Kay walked one and struck out eight, lowering his ERA to 1.07 and WHIP to 0.77.

Tags: Anthony Kay, Danny Abriano
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Eaton calls Frazier 'childish' 00:00:44
Adam Eaton and Todd Frazier were separated by teammates between innings. Frazier said nothing happened while Eaton had some opinions.

As the Mets were beating the Nationals on Monday night at Citi Field, the MASN camera caught something -- Todd Frazier of the Mets and Adam Eaton of the Nationals having to be separated between innings.

During the incident, some of the Nationals started spilling out of the dugout in preparation for a potential brawl.

So what happened?

Tags: Todd Frazier, Danny Abriano
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May 19, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano (24) looks on from the dugout steps in the eighth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)
May 19, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano (24) looks on from the dugout steps in the eighth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)

The Mets (21-25, 6.5 GB in the NL East) snapped a five game losing streak Monday and will face the Nationals at Citi Field again Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. on SNY.

Here's what went down on Monday, in case you missed it:


Mets prospects Ronny Mauricio and Mark Vientos are playing well for Class A Columbia. Find out how the rest of the Mets' big-name Minor Leaguers are doing in Top Prospect Watch. >> Read More

Tags: Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano, Seth Lugo, Yoenis Cespedes
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Pete Alonso hits home run 00:00:17
Pete Alonso hit his 15th home run giving the Mets a 2-0 lead over the Washington Nationals in the 1st inning

Mets rookie first baseman Pete Alonso voiced his support for manager Mickey Callaway after hitting a historic home run in Monday's 5-3 win over the Nationals.

"He's a great leader and all of us love playing for him," Alonso said. "He's a great manager. It would be devastating if his job was in jeopardy or he wasn't the skipper anymore. I think he deserves to be our manager. He's a great leader and we all love playing for him."

Amid the Mets' five-game losing streak that dropped them to 20-25, including a sweep at the hands of the last-place Marlins, GM Brodie Van Wagenen said earlier Monday how he envisions Callaway being the manager for the "foreseeable future."

Tags: Pete Alonso
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Mets talk win 00:01:03
Mickey Callaway and Pete Alonso discuss Monday's 5-3 win for the Mets over the Washington Nationals in Citi Field

A day after not running out a ground ball, Mets second baseman Robinson Cano hit a pinch-hit double in the eighth inning, getting to second base in 8.43 seconds, his fastest time since 2016, according to MLB.com's Andrew Simon.

Mets manager Mickey Callaway took notice.

"I think he got the hint," Callaway said after Monday's 5-3 win over the Nationals, a game in which Cano was not in the starting lineup.

Tags: Robinson Cano
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Mets beat Nats, 5-3 00:01:24
Amed Rosario and Pete Alonso homered in the 1st inning as the Mets beat the Washington Nationals on Monday night at Citi Field

Amed Rosario and Pete Alonso both hit home runs and the Mets' bullpen hang on to beat the Nationals 5-3 on Monday at Citi Field. >> Box score

Five things to know about Monday's game

1) Rosario and Alonso both hit solo homers off Patrick Corbin in the first inning. Rosario hit an 0-2 fastball to center field to make it 1-0, and two batters later Alonso hit a 1-2 fastball to left-center for his 15th home run of the season.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Pete Alonso, Todd Frazier, Washington Nationals
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New York Mets Yoenis Cespedes (52) holds his broken bat as he looks at a video replay of his flyout to deep left field during the third inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Sunday, April 1, 2018, in New York. (AP)
New York Mets Yoenis Cespedes (52) holds his broken bat as he looks at a video replay of his flyout to deep left field during the third inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Sunday, April 1, 2018, in New York. (AP)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

In light of what Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen called a "non-baseball" injury in which Yoenis Cespedes fell into a hole on his ranch and fractured an ankle, can the Mets get out of the remainder of his contract?

The answer, according to agents and executives not connected to Cespedes or the Mets, is that it depends on the specifics of how he was injured, and whether they violate certain contract language.

Tags: Yoenis Cespedes, Andy Martino
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Van Wagenen endorses Callaway 00:02:35
Brodie Van Wagenen addressed the media stating Mickey Callaway was their guy for the forseeable future.

Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen met with the media on Monday at Citi Field and threw his support behind embattled manager Mickey Callaway. But that support came with an asterisk. 

"We called a meeting today with the coaching staff and with the players," Van Wagenen said after arriving late to the press conference due to the aforementioned meeting. "The puirpose of this meeting had many different aspects to it. First and foremost, to make clear to the coaches make clear to Mickey, and make sure that the players understood that I, the front office, and the entire ownership group has support of Mickey Callaway as our manager. Mickey is our manager now, Mickey is our manager going forward," Callaway said.

After adding that there is confidence among the players, Van Wagenen explained why he thinks Callaway remains the right man for the job. 

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Carlos Gomez hits RBI double 00:00:15
Carlos Gomez gets his 1st hit as a Met in 12 years on Monday night against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field

When Carlos Gomez first came up with the Mets, they still played at Shea Stadium.

Twelve years later, Gomez recorded his first hit at Citi Field as a member of the Mets, and it was a big one.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Pete Alonso
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Cespedes fractures ankle 00:02:00
Van Wagenen surprised everyone announcing Cespedes had suffered a 'violent fall' fracturing his ankle and making his return indefinite.

Yoenis Cespedes was involved in a "violent fall" at his ranch in Port St. Lucie over the weekend and sustained right "ankle fractures," according to Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen. 

Van Wagenen said that Cespedes is being evaluated at a hospital in New York and they will need more information on doctors before fully understanding the severity of the injury.

The GM added that Cespedes did not fall off a horse, but did fall and step in a hole in which he "twisted and put his leg and foot" in a bad position.

Tags: Yoenis Cespedes
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Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen
Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen

Even though the Mets have struggled to a 20-25 record through late May, GM Brodie Van Wagenen still believes his current group of players has what it takes to be contenders.

"I don't have regrets from this offseason," Van Wagenen said at a press conference Monday. "When I said publicly and privately that I believed that we could create a contending team, I believed that wholeheartedly. I believed it then and I believe that there is still enough talent in this room to get back in contention this year."

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Cano responds to not playing 00:01:27
Cano says no one told him that part of the reason he was not playing Monday was because of his lack of hustle, but he does regret it.

The day after his second inexcusable transgression on the bases, Robinson Cano is not in the Mets' lineup Monday night as they open a series against the Nationals at Citi Field.

Instead, Jeff McNeil gets the start at second base while J.D. Davis starts in left field.

Asked why Cano is out of the lineup, manager Mickey Callaway -- the day after making excuses for Cano -- listed three reasons.

Tags: Robinson Cano, Danny Abriano
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New York Mets right fielder Michael Conforto leaves the game after an apparent injury during the fifth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. (Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Mets right fielder Michael Conforto leaves the game after an apparent injury during the fifth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. (Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports)

Amidst a tornado of bad news on Monday, the Mets got some good news on Michael Conforto, who has been symptom-free for the last three days after being diagnosed with a concussion.

GM Brodie Van Wagenen said that the team is awaiting the results of tests to determine what type of activities Conforto is cleared to begin. 

Conforto was placed on the 7-day concussion DL on Friday after leaving Thursday's game against the Nationals in the bottom of the fifth inning after getting hit in the face by Robinson Cano's shoulder while both of them were trying to field a fly ball.

Tags: Michael Conforto, Robinson Cano, Danny Abriano
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May 19, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets third baseman J.D. Davis (28) reacts in the fourth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)
May 19, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets third baseman J.D. Davis (28) reacts in the fourth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)

The Mets (20-25, 6.5 GB in NL East) will look to end their five-game losing streak against with a matchup against the Washington Nationals on Monday at 7:10 p.m. at Citi Field. 

Mets notes

The Mets have lost five games in a row and are looking to get back on track against the Nationals at Citi Field where they are 9-8 this season and have won their last three games. ... The Mets have gone 19 innings without scoring a run, which last came in the eighth inning on Friday. ... Carlos Gomez is playing his first game in Citi Field as a Met, where he owns a .417/.509/1.071 slash line with four doubles, a home run and six RBI.

Tags: Washington Nationals
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Apr 19, 2019; St. Louis, MO, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Seth Lugo (67) pitches during the sixth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)
Apr 19, 2019; St. Louis, MO, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Seth Lugo (67) pitches during the sixth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)

The Mets were dealt another blow on Monday when they announced that reliever Seth Lugo was placed on the 10-day injured list with right shoulder tendinitis. 

Left-hand pitcher Hector Santiago was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse to replace Lugo on the roster. 

Lugo, 29, has been effective out of the bullpen this season, pitching to a 2-0 record with a 3.12 ERA,1.00 WHIP and 34 strikeouts in 26 innings pitched this season. He began to feel discomfort in his shoulder during his outing on Sunday, in which he allowed a solo home run to Curtis Granderson in an inning of work, and will be shut down for a few days before being re-evaluated. 

Tags: Seth Lugo
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May 15, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets pitcher Wilmer Font (68) throws to the Washington Nationals during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Mills)
May 15, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets pitcher Wilmer Font (68) throws to the Washington Nationals during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Mills)

After considering Drew Gagnon as their spot-starter for Monday night's series opener against the Nationals at Citi Field, the Mets have instead chosen Wilmer Font

Font, who pitched relatively well in his first start with the Mets (allowing two runs in 4.0 innings), got shellacked by the Nationals in his second start, allowing five runs on six hits while walking two and striking out two in 2.1 innings.

While Gagnon has pitched very well out of the bullpen for the Mets lately, tossing 5.2 scoreless innings over his last five appearances, he hasn't thrown more than 26 pitches in any of them.

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Doug Williams and Andy Martino drop a Monday podcast after a rough weekend for the Mets. They sort through the uncertainty surrounding manager Mickey Callaway, as the speculation grows about his status with the team. They also dive into the Robinson Cano controversy, and how his "running" issues are playing out in relation to Mickey and the struggles of the squad.

Click below to listen...

Tags: Robinson Cano
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 (Tom Priddy, Four Seam Images)
(Tom Priddy, Four Seam Images)

Every Monday, we'll be taking a look at how the Mets' top prospects (their MLB.com Mets Top 10 rankings are in parenthesis) are faring.


Andres Gimenez, SS, Double-A Binghamton (No. 1) -- ETA 2020

The 20-year-old Gimenez -- who is the Mets' No. 1 prospect now that Pete Alonso's prospect status has expired -- is viewed by most minor league experts as one of the best 50 or so prospects in baseball.

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May 19, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets third baseman J.D. Davis (28) reacts in the fourth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)
May 19, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets third baseman J.D. Davis (28) reacts in the fourth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)

The Mets (20-25, 6.5 GB in the NL East) return home after a nightmare trip to face the Nationals at Citi Field on Monday at 7:10 p.m. on SNY.

Here's what went down on Sunday, in case you missed it:


As the Mets were swept by the Marlins, they managed just two hits -- making Sunday the first time since 1967 that they were held to two hits or fewer in consecutive games >> Read more

Tags: Noah Syndergaard, Robinson Cano, Tim Tebow, Danny Abriano
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New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway smiles before the game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. (Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway smiles before the game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. (Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports)

A little more than a week ago, we heard that Mickey Callaway's job was safe -- and word on Sunday evening, following an embarrassing sweep in Miami, was that nothing had changed yet.

Make no mistake, the subject of Callaway's job security won't go away unless the team starts to win, and quickly. But after Sunday's game, Mets higher-ups had not reached the point of firing their manager.

Having said that, the team believes that its roster is severely underperforming...

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Cano?s hustle questioned 00:01:50
For the second time this week, Cano didn?t run to first on a play. Callaway defended the second baseman and his choice not to bench him

If this story seems familiar, it's because it is. 

One day after Mets manager Mickey Callaway explained why he didn't bench Robinson Cano for failing to run out a ground ball double play (something Cano blamed on the scoreboard operator), Callaway had to explain why he didn't pull Cano from Sunday's game after failing to run at all on another double play ground ball. 

And Callaway seemed to be making excuses for his second baseman. 

 

Tags: Robinson Cano, Danny Abriano
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Mar 9, 2019; Fort Myers, FL, USA; New York Mets left fielder Tim Tebow (15) looks on from the dugout priror to the spring training game against the Boston Red Sox at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)
Mar 9, 2019; Fort Myers, FL, USA; New York Mets left fielder Tim Tebow (15) looks on from the dugout priror to the spring training game against the Boston Red Sox at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)

It's not all bad in Mets land. 

While the big league team continues its troubling ways, Tim Tebow finally hit his first homer of the season in the Minors. Batting eighth and playing left field for Syracuse, Tebow followed David Thompson's solo shot with one of his own off Columbus' Asher Wojciechowski

Tebow jumped on the first pitch and drove it over the right-field wall. 

Tags: Tim Tebow
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Syndergaard strong on Callaway 00:01:14
Noah Syndergaard defended his manager, Mickey Callaway, after the Mets were swept by the Marlins. He also said it's still early to panic

For all of the speculation regarding Mickey Callaway's job status, one prominent locker room voice expressed his displeasure in the "will-they-won't-they" dance. 

Noah Syndergaard went so far as to call rumors regarding Callaway's insecure job status "bulls---" after the Mets were shut out by the Marlins, 3-0, and swept by the last-place team. 

"I respect the hell out of Mickey," said Syndegaard, who took the loss Sunday despite pitching well. "Mickey has tremendous leadership values. It's kind of bullshit what's going on right now with this speculation that there could be a change, because we're so early in the season." 

Tags: Noah Syndergaard
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Apr 2, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway (36) prior to a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)
Apr 2, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway (36) prior to a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)

After the Mets were blanked by the Marlins for the second-straight day as Miami completed a three-game sweep, manager Mickey Callaway spoke as questions about his job security continued to swirl. 

And while GM Brodie Van Wagenen was in Miami on Friday and Saturday, he was not there after Sunday's game -- with Callaway saying Van Wagenen was "never scheduled" to be in Miami Sunday.

Callaway, who said he expected to talk with -- as he usually does -- Van Wagenen and ownership ("we always touch base") before the team opens a homestand on Monday, said he doesn't think the weekend sweep will cost him. 

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Mets swept by Marlins 00:01:12
For the first time since 1967 the Mets had two or fewer hits in back-to-back games. It's also the first series sweep for Miami since 2017

The Mets fell to a season-worst five games under .500 with their offense close to a total no-show as the Marlins completed a three-game sweep. After getting one hit on Saturday, the Mets managed just two hits -- making Sunday the first time since 1967 that they were held to two or fewer hits in back-to-back games. >> Box score

Five things to know about Sunday's game...

1) With manager Mickey Callaway's job potentially on the line, the Mets' offense reached a new low -- with Marlins RHP Sandy Alcantara reaching the eighth inning having thrown just 62 pitches. Yes, 62 pitches. Alcantara faltered a bit in the eighth, but came back out for the ninth with only 78 pitches under his belt and retired the side in order to complete the shutout. It took him 89 total pitches. The game took one hour and 59 minutes.

Tags: Dominic Smith, Noah Syndergaard, Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano, Danny Abriano
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Cano caught not running again 00:00:21
Robinson Cano didn't run on what he thought was a foul ball. Instead, the Marlins played it into a double play.

Two days after not running hard on a 1-6-3 double play and using the excuse that he thought there were two outs instead of one, Mets second baseman Robinson Cano didn't move at all on another double play he hit into.

This time, Cano hit a ball right in front of the plate and stared directly at it while not running at all.

The play happened in the top of the fourth inning with J.D. Davis on first base and one out. Cano swung and tapped the ball, with it winding up right in front of the plate and rolling slightly down the first base line. While Cano was staring at the ball and not moving, the Marlins turned an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play.

Tags: Robinson Cano, Danny Abriano
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Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Matt Harvey delivers a pitch to the Texas Rangers during the first inning of a baseball game at Globe Life Park in Arlington. (Jim Cowsert/USA TODAY Sports)
Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Matt Harvey delivers a pitch to the Texas Rangers during the first inning of a baseball game at Globe Life Park in Arlington. (Jim Cowsert/USA TODAY Sports)

The Mets have reshaped their roster over the last year and change, saying goodbye to some familiar faces (some beloved, some not) in the process. Every week, we'll take a look at how some of those former Mets are performing with their new teams...


Jarred Kelenic, Mariners (minors)

The 19-year-old Kelenic, the prized prospect the Mets included in the Diaz/Cano deal, has cooled off over the last two weeks as his triple slash has dropped from a ridiculously good .340/.441/.630 to a still-impressive .314/.397/.529.

In 39 games this season for Seattle's Low-A affiliate, Kelenic has six homers, 13 doubles, one triple, and seven stolen bases. 

Tags: Asdrubal Cabrera, Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Jenrry Mejia, Matt Harvey, Wilmer Flores, Danny Abriano
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Apr 17, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil (6) hits a single during the sixth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
Apr 17, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil (6) hits a single during the sixth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

The Mets (20-24, 5.5 GB in NL East) will look to avoid a sweep at the hands of the MLB-worst Marlins on Sunday at 1:10 p.m.

Mets notes

The Mets have lost four games in a row and are looking to prevent their first five-game losing streak since June of 2018. ... The Mets haven't been swept in a three-game series by the Marlins since September of 2017. ... The Mets have been outscored 8-0 in the first inning over their last four games. ... After winning seven of their first eight road games this season, the Mets have gone 4-15 away from Citi Field. 

Tags: Miami Marlins, Noah Syndergaard
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May 18, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas (19) reacts after the Marlins defeated the New York Mets at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)
May 18, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas (19) reacts after the Marlins defeated the New York Mets at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)

The Mets (20-24, 5.5 GB in the NL East) look to avoid what would be a pathetic sweep at the hands of the Marlins on Sunday afternoon in Miami at 1:10.

Here's what went down on Saturday, in case you missed it:


A listless Mets squad managed just one hit as they were shut out by the Marlins, losing their fourth-consecutive game to fall four games under .500 for the first time this season >> Read more

Tags: Robinson Cano, Todd Frazier, Yoenis Cespedes, Danny Abriano
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Jim Duquette on Mets' woes 00:03:06
SNY Mets analyst Jim Duquette on what must change for the Mets to turn their season around

Baseball people know a dead team when they see one -- and here's a sampling of words offered via text from several veteran evaluators, executives and former players during Saturday's 2-0 loss to the historically bad Miami Marlins:

"Listless."

"No energy."

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Apr 30, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway (36) in the dugout before a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Apr 30, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway (36) in the dugout before a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The Mets lost their fourth-straight game on Saturday, and this loss was a special kind of awful: They were one-hit by the MLB-worst Marlins a day after being shellacked by the same Marlins.

With Mickey Callaway's job potentially at risk and those questions not going away even if the Mets win on Sunday to save face, the manager was asked by SNY's Steve Gelbs after Saturday's loss if the team was playing with the requisite amount of urgency.

"I don't think the results have been there," Callaway said. "I think they come to play every day, I truly do. I think that tonight we didn't score any runs. Heck, we could hardly get a hit. We led off the game with a hit and then they just kind of shut us down."

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May 18, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets center fielder Juan Lagares (12) reacts in the dugout in the ninth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)
May 18, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets center fielder Juan Lagares (12) reacts in the dugout in the ninth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)

Following the Mets' fourth-straight defeat, a 2-0 loss to Miami in which they mustered just one hit, players in the locker room weighed in on the team's recent struggles and gave their thoughts on Mickey Callaway's performance.

"I think he's doing a great job," Todd Frazier said. "He can't go up there and hit. He makes the lineup, he puts the guys in at the right time, and we're not producing. At the end of the day, he makes the lineup, he does his job, he's a great manager, and our focus is on winning games and we're not doing that for him ... If we're not producing, it's kind of on us.

"We've just got to step up, that's the bottom line, as hitters, as a collective group ... Let's get our focus on what we're good at and hopefully that gets us going."

Tags: Steven Matz, Todd Frazier
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