Mickey Callaway ‘shocked’ Dominic Smith was late to first game

Mickey Callaway ‘shocked’ Dominic Smith was late to first game

PORT ST. LUCIE — The gates had not even opened. The field was not even ready for batting practice on his first “game day,” as a big league manager and Mickey Callaway had to make an important move. The Mets first-time manager had to bench one of the organization’s top prospects for showing up late to work.

Otherwise, Callaway had a “great,” time managing his first game.

“It’s different. I have different responsibilities on the bench,” Callaway said. “It was fun today, taking guys out, you have to talk to everyone of them. If I take a guy out, I have to talk to two people at a time, so (bench coach) Gary (DiSarcina) did a great job of making that happen. I have responsible to put on signs now in situations. That’s something I am getting used to. We’re not giving a ton of signs early in spring training. I am going to start looking to (third base coach) Glenn Sherlock when giving signs in those instances and getting used to it.”

Callaway began his day by benching Dominic Smith for showing up late to team meetings. He called it “a little shocking,” that Smith, who is targeted for Triple-A after a disappointing major league debut last fall, would be late on the first day of games.

Mets’ Zack Wheeler sets good example on how to fight for your job

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MLB spring training is in full swing for the New York Mets

“It’s the first thing we said in our little meeting about expectations,” Callaway said of being on time.

While Callaway didn’t broadcast what happened, he allowed Smith to address it with reporters first, he definitely set a tone with the team. After preaching accountability to the team for the past two weeks, he showed that he will consistently mette out the consequences.

“The team knows. I didn’t say anything, but they know, they are around, they knew who was supposed to play and who wasn’t in there,” Callaway said.

***

Matt Harvey threw his last live batting practice Friday and pitching coach Dave Eiland called it “very encouraging.” The one-time ace threw all his pitches facing minor league catcher Tomas Nido and minor league outfielder Tim Tebow.

Dom Smith already validating Mets’ concerns with spring blunder

“He’s repeating his delivery really well, it’s hard to pick up the pitches,” Nido said. “He looked good.”

***

The Mets rallied for six runs in the bottom of the eighth to beat the Braves 6-2 Friday. Minor league outfielder Zach Borenstein had a double and two RBI. Corey Oswalt pitched two scoreless with four strikeouts, while Hansel Robles, Jacob Rhame , Jamie Callahan and Drew Smith each pitched scoreless innings. Chris Flexen gave up a run on two hits and Tyler Bashlor allowed a run on a hit and two walks. … Asdrubal Cabrera, who is being eased back into the lineup, said he expects to be in a game by Sunday.

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Mets’ Zack Wheeler sets good example on how to fight for your job

Mets’ Zack Wheeler sets good example on how to fight for your job

PORT ST. LUCIE — After being benched for showing up late to the morning meetings on Friday, Dominic Smith stuck around to watch the Mets spring training opener against the Braves. If he was paying attention, Zack Wheeler taught him a very important lesson.

Now 27 and still coming back from an arduous rehab from 2015 Tommy John surgery that has tested him and the Mets faith in him, Wheeler is battling to stay out of the bullpen. The former first-round pick and at one time, the organization’s top prospect, Wheeler comes into this spring training with a lot to prove.

And Friday, he got down to business.

After signing lefty Jason Vargas to a two-year deal last week, the Mets have penciled Wheeler in to work out of the bullpen to start the season, a front office source said. He will have to have a great spring to pitch his way into the rotation.

“He was out there getting after it. He knows he’s got great stuff. He knows he hasn’t been healthy and he knows he has to earn a position,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “He went out there today and that was very good.”

Wheeler said he felt good on the mound and he looked it. His velocity was up with his fastball sitting around 95-96 miles per hour and touching 97 mph at one point through the first four batters of the Braves lineup. He needed 15 pitches, 10 for strikes, to get through the first inning.

He did all he needed to do for the first outing of spring.

“I just go out there and just pitch like I know how. When I am healthy I know what I can do. I know what I am capable of,” Wheeler said. “I just keep my head down, just go out there and pitch whenever they need me to, get my pitch count up, throw good quality strikes, get ahead of hitters and work off of that.”

He began Friday behind, but recovered nicely.

Ozzie Albies singled on the first pitch, but that gave Wheeler a chance to show off an improved technique at holding runners. He held himself for an extended period on the mound, stepped off and fired a throw home in 1.2 seconds, giving catcher Travis d’Arnaud a great chance to throw out Albies if Amed Rosario had been able to hold onto the ball.

All of those little things — like showing up on time and trying to hold runners in a spring training game — make an impression on a new manager.

“We’re looking at them to go in and pound the zone, get ahead, control the running game, do all those things that are going to separate them from one another,” Callaway said of the pitchers vying for positions. “They all have very, very good stuff. If they can separate themselves in some type of way, that’s going to matter.”

Wheeler struck out Dansby Swanson with a 97 mph fastball and coaxed a groundout to second from Johan Camargo. He struck out Rio Ruiz to end his day.

Callaway talked to Wheeler about focusing on those little things this week, after the Daily News reported that the front office was ticketing him to go into the bullpen. He appreciated the support, but knows the deal.

“It keeps you at ease, allows you to be concentrate on what you need to be concentrating on,” Wheeler said. “It didn’t take my mind off if it or anything but yeah, it allows me to concentrate a little bit more.”

Smith, who like Wheeler is a first-round pick who has been touted as a top prospect, should have been concentrating on what Wheeler was going through. Nothing is guaranteed in the big leagues no matter how big a prospect you were and you have to fight for your job.

“Mickey came up to me the other day and said don’t worry about all that kind of stuff. Keep your head down and go about your business and try to go out there and win a job,” Wheeler said. “That’s my goal and that starts with what they want, getting ahead of hitters, throwing good quality strikes and staying healthy.”

Showing up on time is just a given.

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Mets game offers brief distraction to HS shooting survivors

Mets game offers brief distraction to HS shooting survivors

PORT ST. LUCIE – Jordan Farber was just a Mets fan. The senior at Stoneman Douglas High attended the 2015 World Series and like any other teenage Mets fan, meeting David Wright would have been a dream come true, a memory for a lifetime.

But under these circumstances, Farber and his schoolmates, all survivors of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting who were at First Data Field Friday, have become more than just average teenagers. After watching their friends, classmates, teachers and coaches slaughtered in the shooting on Feb. 14, they continue to use their voices and take their message of changing gun laws to any platform they can find.

Friday, they spoke out after a pregame ceremony at First Data Field.

“We’ll be all over the country making sure our message is heard that this is the last school shooting ever. Because Columbine, Sandy Hook, that’s when it should have ended,” Farber said. “When little elementary school students had to pass away, and their parents living with the grief of their five-year-old, seven-year-old, six-year-old child passing away. That’s when it should have ended.

“We’re going to change this definitely,” the senior said.

Farber and his friends are mourning and honoring the 17 people killed by a gunman at their high school with their activism.

“We’re the students that are going to make a difference. You are not going to stop seeing us until we get the changes made we want to see. We’re never stopping until we get that,” said Bailey Feuerman, a 15-year old sophomore at the school who has been a strong voice for gun-control after the shooting.

One of the 400 students that went to Tallahassee last week to push for more stringent gun laws, Feuerman watched as Florida lawmakers voted down a discussion on gun laws, just a week after the shooting.

She and her schoolmates were not deterred.

“Stricter gun control. Stricter background checks. We want all AR-15s to be banned, because nobody should have to experience a tragedy like our school experienced,” Feuerman said.

The Mets and the rest of MLB teams in action Friday wore the caps of Stoneman Douglas High School to honor the victims of America's latest mass school shooting.

The Mets and the rest of MLB teams in action Friday wore the caps of Stoneman Douglas High School to honor the victims of America’s latest mass school shooting.

(Lynne Sladky/AP)

Calling this an American issue, Farber said it is a life-or-death issue for his generation.

“Not just AR-15s,” Farber said of their agenda, citing the gun that the murderer used in his school. “All automatic weapons. I do believe in the Second Amendment. I do believe in self defense. You can be armed with a handgun or a gun that’s not meant for war, like an AR-15. That is meant for war, it’s intent is to kill. That should be banned. 100% banned.”

Friday at the ballpark was meant to be a distraction for them, but their thoughts never go very far from that horrific Wednesday afternoon or the friends they lost.

“I am so thankful baseball is with us, it’s been really tough. I lost three friends,” Devon Wiesenfeld, an 18-year old senior said. “I lost three really close friends. One girl, Carmen Schentrup, I sat next to the hour before. Just being here makes everything a lot easier. I just hope this never happens to anybody ever again. Myself, my friends and everybody in Stoneman Douglas are all together as a community. We’re going to change the world. Change the world so that this never happens to anyone.”

Sammy Feuerman, a senior at Stoneman Douglas, took off his hat to show his dyed hair, in honor of a friend, Joaquin Oliver, who he lost in the shooting.

“I just want to do it to honor him,” Feuerman said. “He was just an amazing person. It’s just really hard.”

The Mets and the rest of baseball wore the black caps of Stoneman Douglas’s baseball team during Friday’s spring training opening game. Farber, Bailey Feuerman, Ethan Farber and Devon Wiesenfeld — all students at the school — walked out with Wright as he delivered the lineup cards at home plate.

It was a brief reprieve. They enjoyed the moment and the game, but made sure to use this opportunity to spread their message here as well.

“It’s truly incredible,” Feuerman said. “All the changes we want to happen, we’re really talking out, people are hearing us. We’re being seen all around the world. It’s what we really need in order for us to get justice for our friends and our teachers who were tragically killed in this and it’s really great that people can hear us.”

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Dominic Smith late to Mets camp Friday, scratched from lineup

Dominic Smith late to Mets camp Friday, scratched from lineup

PORT ST LUCIE — Dominic Smith was scratched from the lineup for the Mets’ first spring training game Friday for disciplinary reasons. 

The first baseman, who was late to arrive at the Mets complex, first told reporters he was not given a reason for being left out. However, he has since apologized and said he agrees with the punishment.

Earlier Mickey Callaway had simply called the decision “a lineup change,” and said the move wasn’t injury-related. The new Mets manager had preached accountability when he took over, and it appears as though he’s following through.

On Thursday, Callaway had announced Smith as the starter at first base with Adrian Gonzalez as the designated hitter. Instead, first base prospect Peter Alonso is starting at first on Friday when the Mets open Grapefruit League play against the Braves.

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Dominic Smith scratched from Mets lineup for spring training game

Dominic Smith scratched from Mets lineup for spring training game

PORT ST LUCIE — Dominic Smith was scratched from the lineup for the Mets’ first spring training game Friday, and the first baseman says he wasn’t given a reason why.

Smith added that he is not injured.

Mets manager Mickey Callaway called the decision “a lineup change,” echoing that the move wasn’t injury-related.

On Thursday, Callaway had announced Smith as the starter at first base with Adrian Gonzalez as the designated hitter. Instead, first base prospect Peter Alonso is starting at first on Friday when the Mets open Grapefruit League play against the Braves.

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