By Ed Coleman
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The Mets made the first of what might be several minor moves to free up 40-man roster space by trading righty reliever Elvin Ramirez to the Angels for cash on Wednesday night.
Ramirez, who did not fit into the team’s plans this season, went 0-1 with a 5.48 ERA in 25 games for the Mets last year and also 3-1 with a 2.36 ERA at Triple-A Buffalo. The Mets may have to place four and possibly as many as six non-40-man-roster players on the final roster by Opening Day.
In what might be termed as being as optimistic as possible, the Mets have announced the pitching matchups for not only the opening series against San Diego, but also the following series vs. Miami.
Here’s the three-game set against the Padres:
Jon Niese vs. Edinson Volquez
Matt Harvey vs. Clayton Richard
Dillon Gee vs. Eric Stults
And the three-game set against the Marlins:
Jeremy Hefner vs. Henderson Alvarez
Jon Niese vs. Kevin Slowey
Shaun Marcum vs. Ricky Nolasco
Marcum is listed despite being scratched from his exhibition start on Thursday and not pitching in a Grapefruit League game since March 16. The impingement in his pitching shoulder is getting better and his neck discomfort is subsiding. The plan is for Marcum to throw a bullpen on Saturday, then 75-80 pitches in some sort of controlled game situation on Tuesday, which would set him up to start five days later on April 7 against Miami.
Hefner is listed as well after taking a comebacker off his pitching elbow in his last start, but should be good to go a week from this Friday.
Daniel Murphy will play in a major league game on Thursday when the Mets travel to Viera to take on Gio Gonzalez and the Washington Nationals. It signals Murphy’s readiness for Opening Day if he can make it through the final three exhibition games in Florida without experiencing pain. Manager Terry Collins felt it was important for Murphy to see major league action instead of getting at-bats on the minor league side every day.
So if that’s the case, then might captain David Wright also see major league action, possibly the final game on Saturday in Sarasota against the Orioles?
Wright will stick to the minor league side on Thursday and continue to get at-bats there.
It appeared Kirk Nieuwenhuis had run out of time in his bid to make the team after being sidelined for more than two weeks with a deep bone bruise on his knee. But the Mets are concerned about their overall outfield defense, and Collins says he’ll continue to run Nieuwenhuis out there in the remaining games.
Nieuwenhuis has not exactly stated a strong case for heading north with the club — he’s hitting just .069 with two singles and 11 strikeouts in 29 at-bats.
Opening Day starter Jon Niese finished strong, blanking the Astros over 4 1/3 innings Wednesday night. Niese allowed just two hits, walked two and struck out seven while finishing the spring with a 1.23 ERA. Niese’s walk total was high — 11 in 22 innings — but feels he’s ready to go on Monday.
Marlon Byrd continues to rake down here, homering (his first), doubling (his eighth) and knocking in three runs Wednesday while batting .346 overall. Ike Davis and Jordany Valdespin continued their fine springs — each with two hits, each batting .333. Catcher John Buck had three hits and lifted his average to .343, and Zach Lutz (.328) was impressive again with two hits and an RBI.
C U soon
What are the chances the Mets’ rotation works out as listed in the first six games? Be heard in the comments!