PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Despite a slow start to his first spring with the Mets, Dellin Betances remains confident he’ll be ready to go by Opening Day.
“That’s the goal,” Betances said after pitching one inning in a simulated game Tuesday. “That was my goal all offseason, and I’ve worked really hard to get to this point. I don’t see why it wouldn’t be realistic.”
Betances missed nearly all of last season due to a right shoulder injury, and then partially tore his left Achilles tendon in his first game back. While rehabbing over the winter, he signed a one-year contract with the Mets that guarantees him $10.5 million and could be worth more than double that if he triggers certain incentives. The contract includes options for 2021-22.
When the Mets signed Betances, they anticipated that he would be ready for Opening Day -- and they still do, despite the fact that he has yet to appear in a Grapefruit League game. In recent weeks, Betances has thrown multiple live batting practice sessions; he’s likely days away from making his spring debut.
Once Betances does, he will continue the process of building up his velocity. Capable of throwing over 100 mph at his best, Betances said he’s not yet close to that point this spring. One scout watching Betances on the back field Tuesday estimated -- without a radar gun -- that he was throwing in the low 90s.
“I’ve known myself for a long time,” Betances said. “I know right now, it’s not coming out the way it would come out during the season. It takes me a little bit to get that going, but I know everything’s been good. … We have enough time for that.”
Slowing down the opposition
Of Noah Syndergaard’s spring focal points, it’s possible none are as important as his ability to control the running game. Over the last two seasons, opponents stole 74 bases off Syndergaard in 80 attempts. No other Major League pitcher allowed more than 39 steals over that same stretch.
Although Syndergaard gave up two steals in two attempts to the speedy Magneuris Sierra in Tuesday’s 6-1 loss to the Marlins, he believes his work with pitching coach Jeremy Hefner is paying dividends.
“I’d like to think I’m quite a bit further along than I’ve ever been,” Syndergaard said. “It took a lot of swallowing my pride in knowing there’s something I really need to work on there, and [I] made a huge emphasis of doing so.”
When Michael Conforto leapt high over the fence in an effort to corral Garrett Cooper’s first-inning homer off Syndergaard, he not only missed the ball, but dropped his glove beyond the wall as well. As Cooper rounded the bases, Conforto looked around, unsure how to retrieve it.
“I was kind of like, ‘What am I supposed to do here?’” Conforto said, laughing. “‘Is there any security here that can get my glove for me?’”
Conforto eventually hopped the fence to pick up his glove, waving to the crowd as he returned to the field.
How about those schools?
Two members of the 2000 National League pennant-winning Mets, Mike Hampton and Glendon Rusch, were at camp to kick off the organization’s 20th anniversary celebration of that team. Hampton brought his sense of humor with him. After leaving the Mets on an eight-year, $161 million contract in 2001, Hampton famously said that he signed with the Rockies in part because of Denver’s school system.
“I knew that was going to come up,” Hampton quipped Tuesday, laughing when reminded of his comment. “Here’s my only answer to that: I’ve got a son that’s working on his master’s, and my other son is on the dean’s list in juco playing baseball, so I guess the school system worked out all right.”
From the trainer’s room
The Mets still have no update on non-roster invite Matt Adams, who has not participated in baseball activities since he was scratched last Thursday to undergo cardiac screening. Adams has now missed five days of camp.
The Mets have more incentive than ever to keep eating cookies after games.
Upon reading about the Mets’ cookie club last week, Insomnia Cookies CEO Seth Berkowitz offered to sponsor the club if it continues meeting in 2020. Frequently after road games last season, a group including Conforto, J.D. Davis, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Dominic Smith and Brandon Nimmo met to eat cookies, scout opposing pitchers and talk about life.
“I don’t want them paying for it,” Berkowitz said. “We will happily sponsor the cookie club moving forward. All I want is for the Mets to win. It’s truly all I want.”
Berkowitz, who founded Insomnia Cookies in 2003, is “an absurdly pained and rabid Mets fan” from Rockland County, N.Y. He is a season-ticket holder who has had a relationship with the team since at least 2013, when he visited the clubhouse to gift cookies to Justin Turner.
“We’re hoping to go meet the cookie club and get them some more cookies,” Berkowitz said.
Marcus Stroman will look to stretch out when he starts the Mets’ 1:10 p.m. ET game Wednesday against the Cardinals at Clover Park. Tentatively slotted as the Mets’ third starter, Stroman owns a 4.91 ERA in two outings so far this spring.