Final Three Games Meant Something

Jonathon Niese was in control during the sixth inning at Citi Field Friday night with a pitch count at 66. He was removed after catcher Anthony Recker went to the mound as Niuse said his heart was racing and summoned manager Terry Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen to the mound.

An elevated heart rate is one of the issues that has been bothersome to Niese, a third time that has happened in the last four years pitching with the Mets. Niese gave way to Carlos Torres who gave up three runs as the Mets lost to the Astros 3-1 in the first of three games to close the season.

These three games fot the Mets are meaningless to some extent. They will finish with their sixth straight losing season but if they can win the next two, 79 wins would be an improvement and a sign of progress.

Finishing second in the NL east, though below .500, would also be an accomplishment as they remain tied with the Atlanta Braves. This is not pennant time baseball in the final few days but possible decision time going into the off season for the manager Terry Collins and GM Sandy Alderson, who received contract extensions earlier in the week.

But if the Mets are moving forward, as is the case with a young and promising pitching staff, they need to assess two of their young veterans on the staff. Niese is in that equation, along with Dillon Gee who completed his season Thursday as New York lost the night game of two to the Nationals.

There is always the possibility that Niese or Gee, or both could be traded as part of a package for a shortstop or offensive player in the outfield. That is one of the options, though the Mets hierarchy has always had patience and promise for Niese and Gee, who continue to be hindered with soreness to their shoulders.

As for Niese, the concern with an elevated heart rate does not seem to be serious and it could be corrected with a minor procedure that he will look into during the offseason.

“Once every two years, I’ll take that,”Niese said about the setback. “It just happens. If it happened on a more regular basis, I’d probably do something about it.” He threw 5.1 scoreless innings and has allowed three earned runs or less in a franchise record 23 straight home starts.

“It took him by surprise,” said Collins. “He was moving the ball around. When Jon is pitching well he’s pitching the contact, getting the cutter in on righties You see the fly balls the ground outs.”

Collins alluded to Niese also being the left-hander the Mets need in their rotation which is important to disrupting opposing lineups that are loaded with left handed hitters.

“It gives a different look,” Collins said. So there will be every intent to make sure that Niese is healthy in 2015. But there is always that possibility of that trade if the right package deal can be made.

METS COMMENT ABOUT JETER: Thursday night the Mets were packing their bags and heading back to New York after splitting a day-night doubleheader with the Nationals. They also saw a few moments on clubhouse TV monitors of the Yankee Stadium finale in the Bronx for Derek Jeter.

“You have to admire his accomplishments and appreciate what Jeter represented for the game of baseball,” commented Bobby Abreu who spent some time on the Yankees roster with Jeter.

The Mets would not comment about their pitching mate, Matt Harvey who was sitting in the stands and cheering for Jeter in the Bronx while they were in Washington D.C. completing their last road games of the season against the Nationals.

Harvey is on the active DL list and has not traveled with the team the past few road trips as his in- season rehab and conditioning for next year are over. At the same time, their leader, David Wright, also on the DL was with the team and has credited Jeter for inspiring his career as another leader for the cross-town Mets.

Harvey once again used social media to show the world where he was. There was instant flack from the Mets fan base on social media and the debate continued Friday. Why was Matt Harvey at Yankee Stadium and not with his team even though he is not active?

It is a matter of who you approach about the ego hungry and social media expert known as Matt Harvey, who did not throw a pitch this year as he continues to rehab back from Tommy John Surgery. Mets management could not be reached for comment and there are those fans at Citi Field who were split on Harvey observing and cheering for the cross-town Yankees as his team makes a run for a second place finish.

At least there was this commons sense: Harvey was not wearing a NY Yankees cap…

ABREU LOOKS TO BE A COACH: Bobby Abreu, the 40-year old veteran who has had two stints with the Mets this season made it official before the game Friday night and said he was retiring as an active player after the season finale on Sunday,

“I have a lot of fun,” Abreu said. “These young guys here are special. Even though I’m 40, they made me feel young. But I realize now that the game is for the next generation.”

Abreu has the third-most hits by a Venezuelan player trailing Omar Vizquel and Luis Aparicio and he is second to Derek Jeter in games played. The Mets may not see the last of him as there has been discussion of keeping him with the organization in some type of coaching capacity.

If not, Abreu has expressed an interest in working with another team as a hitting coach. Many of the Latino players on the Mets roster have attributed improvement because of their working relationship with him.

Abreu started his career with the Houston Astros in 1996 and his last game will come against the same franchise. And for some of the younger Mets, many who are part of their future plans as contenders, they hope Abreu will be around when spring training begins in February.

“Having him here and with his help has made it so much easier,” Wilmer Flores said, also a native of Venezuela who has counts on Abreu’s veteran leadership and coaching ability as he continues to be one of those young players the Mets are focusing on for 2015.

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About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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