Carroll: NY First Base Blues

“This isn’t high school where you put the fat kid on first base,” Mets manager Terry Collins cracked to the media in his pregame press conference at Citi Field last Friday. Collins was talking about the difficulty he was going to have in replacing first baseman Lucas Duda who went on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his lower back. He’s expected to miss a good amount of games.

The Mets skipper ruled out trying highly touted young outfielder Michael Conforto at first and seemed confident that Wilmer Flores, who was about to come off the disabled list after incurring a hamstring injury, would be able to handle the position. He didn’t seem perturbed by the fact that Flores came up through the Mets minor league system as a shortstop. Although he was known for his offensive prowess in the minors, Flores’ hitting has been inconsistent at the major league level.

Terry’s faith in Wilmer paid off on Memorial Day when in the fifth inning when he snagged a hard-hit line drive off the bat of the White Sox second baseman Brett Lawrie and turned it into an unassisted double play. That was the turning point in the Mets’ 1-0 win that preserved Matt Harvey’s best pitching performance of the year which was much needed for both Harvey, who has struggled in the first third of the season, and the Mets who had dropped two out of three games the past weekend to the Dodgers thanks to the hitting heroics of uber-villain Chase Utley.

On Saturday the Mets obtained veteran first baseman James Loney from the San Diego Padres in exchange for cash. The fine-fielding Loney had productive seasons for the Dodgers from 2006-2012 before becoming a journeyman. He has never been considered one of the dominant first sackers of his time. The Mets are hoping however that the 32 year-old still has some gas left in his tank.

The Yankees have had more than their shares of first baseman woes this season. Greg Bird, who the Yanks see as their first baseman of the future, is missing the entire 2016 season recovering from a torn labrum in his right shoulder. The man whose job Yankees management wants him to take over next season, Mark Teixeira, has just come the disabled list after suffering from neck spasms. Tex is 36 and it takes a lot longer time for him to recover from maladies than it would have a decade ago.

If things weren’t bad enough, Teixeira’s understudy, Dustin Ackley, just went on the disabled list with a dislocated right shoulder. It’s no wonder that for the Yankees’ homestand finale against the Blue Jays last Thursday, manager Joe Girardi had to improvise and place catcher Austin Romine at first and placed him ninth in the batting order.

Before the Mets acquired James Loney I asked third baseman David Wright if he had spoken to his Virginia buddy, recently retired first baseman-outfielder Michael Cuddyer, about making a comeback and helping out the Mets. “He’s too happy spending time with his family,” Wright replied with a smile.

The Mets hosted a reunion of the surviving members of their 1986 World Series-winning team last Saturday on the milestone of their 30th anniversary. Given how infrequently they publicly honor their former players my guess is that the next time you’ll see a group of former Mets on the Citi Field diamond for a ceremony will be in 2019 for the 50th anniversary of the Miracle Mets.

Chris Woodward, who played for the Mets when Willie Randolph was their manager, is now the Dodgers third base coach. The affable Woodward, who was always terrific with the media, told me that his career goal now is to be a major league manager. Certainly being a part of the high-profile Dodgers staff should help him with that goal.

Knicks star forward Carmelo Anthony is a baseball fan and was on the field prior to Friday’s

Dodgers-Mets game. If anyone needed any evidence that Carmelo has no desires to leave New York regardless of the Knicks’ foibles all they had to do was look at Carmelo’s custom made baseball cap which was comprised of half of the Mets and half of the Yankees “NY” logo.

Carmelo told me that he hold his coconut water company, Coco Power, and is now concentrating on being a venture capitalist investing in nascent technology firms, with his firm Melo 7 Tech Partners.

Mets radio broadcaster, as well as  Cardozo High School and Queens College alum, Howie Rose announced that he is relinquishing his role as the Islanders TV play-by-play man on MSG Plus. Rose cited that he wanted to get more time off but he admitted to me that calling a hockey game was taking a toll on his voice and that he wanted to be at his best for Mets games. My guess is that Rose, who now lives in Nassau County, wasn’t enamored of the shlep to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, the Islanders current home.

Flying has become more difficult in the 21st century because of the understandable concern about passenger safety and the lengthy screening process that is needed to ensure it. The long lines at airports have caused many passengers to miss flights.

JFKIAT, the operator of chic Terminal 4 at Kennedy Airport, announced that they were hiring more people to assist the TSA in ancillary roles to improve passenger flow. The attempt to decrease the time that folks need to go through security is good business. Passengers can’t spend time shopping at many of Terminal 4’s retail establishments or have a meal at its restaurants if they are delayed getting into it.

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