Giancarlo Stanton is already enjoying Yankees more than Marlins

Giancarlo Stanton is already enjoying Yankees more than Marlins

TAMPA — Giancarlo Stanton didn’t drill the scoreboard like Aaron Judge did in the Yankees’ spring training opener last season.

But the newest Bomber was glad to debut with his new team after so many losing years in Miami.

“This is better,” Stanton replied when asked to compare previous spring openers with the Marlins. “Just more exciting, I’d say. It’s a spring game, but I can’t wait to see what we can do. That would be the difference.”

Stanton heard applause from the sellout crowd when he was introduced. Hitting second and playing right field, he drew an eight-pitch walk in his first at-bat and grounded into a 4-3 doubleplay with two on and nobody out in his second and final AB.

“It was just trying to get my timing out there,” said Stanton, who played four innings. “It was good. It was a good day.”

Giancarlo Stanton heard applause from the sellout crowd when he was introduced.

Giancarlo Stanton heard applause from the sellout crowd when he was introduced.

(Lynne Sladky/AP)

Asked if he had any nerves, the reigning NL MVP responded: “No. Once I get in-between the lines, I’m just ready to go. But it’s definitely a cool anticipation of something new and exciting.”

Asked what he wanted to accomplish in camp, Stanton responded: “Being completely ready, feeling how I would when I’m grooving in a season. It’s a little bit of everything, timing, sight.”

Stanton said he is getting well acclimated in the clubhouse. “All the guys are awesome, easy to mesh with, easy to talk to, easy to work with. So, it’s been great.”

WIDE-OPEN COMPETITION

Brandon Drury may be the favorite at third, but according to Aaron Boone, there’s no favorite at second.

Brandon Drury may be the favorite at third, but according to Aaron Boone, there's no favorite at second.

Brandon Drury may be the favorite at third, but according to Aaron Boone, there’s no favorite at second.

(Lynne Sladky/AP)

“To a degree, wide-open I would say,” Boone said. “We have some talented guys.”

Gleyber Torres is expected to get a chance at second – whether that’s Opening Day or later in the year.

The 21-year-old top prospect played his first game since suffering a season-ending injury and having to undergo Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing elbow back in mid-June. Torres wore a shirt with agent David Falk’s famous fax line regarding Michael Jordan’s return to the NBA “I’m Back” on it, but said he just liked how it looked.

Torres went 0-for-2 at the plate and avoided a scare when he had the wind knocked out of him while nearly making a diving play early on.

"Last year was last year," Austin Romine said about seeing Miguel Cabrera in the spring training opener.

“Last year was last year,” Austin Romine said about seeing Miguel Cabrera in the spring training opener.

(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

“I feel real happy, excited,” Torres said. “My focus is to play hard, stay focused and try to help my team win and do my job. I’m not thinking about winning the job or anything like that.”

REUNITED

Austin Romine and Miguel Cabrera appeared to chat for a bit before Cabrera’s first-inning at-bat with Romine behind the plate. Remember, those two got into it during the team’s brawl with the Tigers last season. But all appeared peaceful on Friday.

“I’m not going to talk about that. That was last year,” Romine said before the game. “Last year was last year. I’d like to turn the page and move on and focus on this year.”

Said Aaron Boone, who wasn’t with the Yankees at the time: “I think, on some level, baseball players never forget things. But one of our messages will always be that we’re out there to win games and compete. And turn the page on those kinds of things as best we can.”

OF NOTE

Brandon Drury will be one of the only regulars travelling to Bradenton for Saturday’s road game against the Pirates, as he gets set to make his spring debut with the Yankees following Tuesday trade. Top prospect Estevan Florial will also make the trip. … Gary Sanchez and Brett Gardner are expected to make their spring debuts on Monday at home. … The Yankees honored victims and all those affected by last week’s tragedy in Parkland, Fla. by wearing the caps of the Majory Stoneman Douglas High School Eagles baseball team during batting practice and the game. The caps were autographed and set to be auctioned off. The team also held a moment of silence before the national anthem.

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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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Aaron Boone’s time to shine like he did during interview process

Aaron Boone’s time to shine like he did during interview process

TAMPA — Aaron Boone shook a lot of hands on Friday.

Before Boone’s managerial debut in his team’s spring-training opener at Steinbrenner Field, Miguel Cabrera came over as the Yankees were taking batting practice and congratulated his ex-teammate on his new gig.

And after it ended — a 3-1 Bombers’ win over the Tigers that had a little more meaning than your typical exhibition game — Boone congratulated his team on what he hopes is the start of something special come Opening Day.

“It’s always fun to shake hands (after a victory),” Boone said in his office. “But I thought for the first day we did a lot of things well.”

There were some drawn-out “Boooone” calls from the sellout crowd of 10,129 as No. 17 was introduced. His goal is obvious: trying to bring the franchise its 28th World Series championship — and not just being known as Aaron ‘Bleepin’ Boone, 2003 playoff hero.

A lot to ask for a rookie skipper, no doubt. But the pieces are mostly in place, with reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton complimenting a homegrown core that includes Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and Luis Severino.

Now, it’s on Boone to shine like he did during the interview process, when team officials felt he was the best of the bunch: a personable, smart communicator who would collaborate with the front office and embrace analytics. All of those attributes, they felt, were more than enough to overcome the fact he’s never done this before at any level.

For his part, Boone is embracing expectations, as well as the adjustment process of going from the broadcast booth into the dugout. It’s going to take time.

He’s eventually going to face adversity in the form of a losing streak, and he’s eventually going to be criticized after his first miscue. How he handles everything that comes with this high-profile, high-pressure job will go a long way toward determining whether Brian Cashman and Co. got this hire right.

Friday was only the beginning in the process.

As Boone jokingly told veteran manager Ron Gardenhire before the game: “Take it easy on me.”

“When we were exchanging lineup cards, I didn’t want to look him in the eye,” Boone said. “Like he ‘Jedi-mind tricked’ me or something. But it’s good to see him. I know him and competing against him for a long time. It’s just these first days wishing guys well, and he’s been a good one.”

During the game, Boone could be heard on YES Network yelling “outstanding Birdie!” to Greg Bird in one of his at-bats. “That’s ball talk. That’s my whole life,” Boone said. “I’ll throw things out there. I don’t think I’m going to be overly rah-ah or anything like that, but you’ll hear me.”

“He was great. Real positive. Real upbeat,” Bird said. “It’s a good atmosphere in the clubhouse and in the dugout.”

That certainly goes a long way, but in the end, it’s about wins and losses. Spring training is a time to set the foundation. And, for Boone, in a sense, it’s about learning on the fly, so when the games actually matter, he’s prepared.

“As I’ve talked about from Day 1, it’s just the mechanics of it all,” Boone said. “Obviously a spring training game, it’s a little bit different. But one of the things for me in spring training is really getting on the same page communicating with my coaches, whether it’s signs, whether it’s through comments, whether it’s just through non-verbal understanding of each other.

“Those are the things that for me personally will be something that I really want to iron out and button up here over the next five or so weeks,” Boone said.

Yankees fans hope there are a lot more postgame handshakes in Aaron Boone’s future.”

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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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Dom Smith already validating Mets' concerns with spring blunder

Dom Smith already validating Mets' concerns with spring blunder

PORT ST. LUCIE — All winter Dom Smith talked about how determined he was to prove his dedication to being a professional, and the 20 pounds he dropped seemed to be proof he had learned from the poor first impression he made on the Mets last summer.

So then he shows up late on the first game day of spring training?

When he knows his only chance to beat out Adrian Gonzalez this spring is to impress the heck out of Mickey Callaway and Sandy Alderson on and off the field?

As always with the Mets, you can’t make it up.

Dominic Smith late to Mets camp Friday, scratched from lineup

I’ll say this: It’s hard not to like Smith. He’s a personable kid, and after spending an hour or so with him one day this offseason, I came away convinced he had his head on straight, that he was ready to make good on his talent.

But now you have to have serious reservations about him. Being late for an 8:45 a.m. team meeting on such a significant day is an awfully ominous sign, especially because it’s not the first time, according to a source.

The Mets benched Dominic Smith from Friday's opener after he showed up late to the team facility.

The Mets benched Dominic Smith from Friday’s opener after he showed up late to the team facility.

(Jeff Roberson/AP)

Smith arrived late to the ballpark at least once during his two-month stint with the Mets in August and September last season, the source said, and was aired out in private by a veteran pitcher.

To have it happen this early in camp, when he was penciled in to start at first base, is practically unfathomable, and Callaway did the right thing by scratching Smith from the lineup.

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In truth, the new manager had no choice but to punish Smith as a way of setting a tone that such unprofessionalism won’t be tolerated on his watch.

And Smith, to his credit, made that point when he spoke to the media.

“That’s the way it should be,” he said. “He shouldn’t give me a pass. That’s what he has been preaching since Day One, accountability for yourself and your actions.

“That’s the only way the team will be great. It’s something that won’t be an issue or a problem going forward.”

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OK, that sounds great, but it’s hard to give Smith the benefit of the doubt at this point.

There was no indication of any significant reason for him being late. In fact, Smith didn’t offer a reason as he spoke with reporters, and it wasn’t until someone wondered if his alarm clock had failed to go off that he haltingly said, yes, that was the issue.

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

For that matter, it took two sessions with reporters for Smith to own up to being late.

As always with the Mets, apparently there was much discussion internally about how to handle the situation. After noticing that Smith had been scratched from the original lineup card and replaced by Peter Alonso, reporters approached the first baseman and he played dumb, offering no explanation.

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About a half-hour later reporters were directed to Smith’s locker again, after two PR people had huddled with him, and he admitted to being late.

So there was more drama than necessary, but at least the Mets made the right call by deciding not to try and cover up the truth, as they’ve been known to do in such situations in the past.

It would have been a disastrous way for Callaway to start his tenure as well. But by forcing Smith to answer for himself, even if it took a couple of tries, the Mets sent the right message to their players as well as their fans.

So now the question is whether Smith matures and becomes the player the Mets envisioned when they made him their first-round draft pick out in 2013, or his immaturity and poor decision-making derails his career.

Mets giving first spring start to Zack Wheeler

For what it’s worth, he said all the right things after finally admitting to being late, and seemed sincere about it.

“I am more upset that I let myself down,” he said. “I was so excited last night to be in the lineup and be playing and stuff like that. Sometimes you can’t get sleep; up all night, my first day again … get to show what I can do.

“I’m disappointed in myself and with myself more than anything else.”

That said, Smith insisted it was nothing more than “a small, minor speed bump” for him, and at age 22 he still has plenty of time to prove that.

Mets’ Adrian Gonzalez trying to impart wisdom to Dominic Smith

But something like this only validates the Mets’ concerns about him, as well as their decision to sign Gonzalez this winter. Hitting .198 after his call-up last season didn’t give him margin for this type of error, that’s for sure.

Some scouts still believe he’ll become a good major-league hitter, but even if that’s the case, a mistake like this is reason to believe Smith needs to grow up some before that can happen.

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