Three questions surround Mets' rotation as camp opens
How to handle Harvey, the last rotation spot and Parnell's future all up for debate
NEW YORK -- Already, Port St. Lucie, Fla., is awash with activity. It may be unseasonably cool there for mid-February (though nothing like New York), but that has not stopped Mets players from reporting early to Spring Training and working out each morning.
On Thursday, everything becomes official. That is the day when pitchers and catchers must officially arrive in town, in advance of workouts this weekend. The rest of the squad is due to follow next week, with Grapefruit League games beginning March 4.
It can seem somewhat rote, particularly for a Mets team remarkably similar to the one that walked off the field tied for second place in the National League East last September. But considering the Mets aspire to play in October this year, not just September, plenty of questions remain.
Below are the three most pressing ones that should surface over the next seven weeks:
1. How will the Mets handle Matt Harvey?
Coaches, fans and media members will spend Spring Training analyzing every breath Harvey draws, every step he takes, every pitch he throws. The Mets still have not revealed their day-to-day plan for Harvey in his first year back from Tommy John surgery, save for a vague promise that they will avoid overusing him. That probably means holding him back a bit at the start of the season, and giving him a long rest around the All-Star break. The ultimate goal is to have Harvey healthy and productive should the Mets need him in October.
2. Which starter won't start?
The Mets' inability to trade Dillon Gee this winter leaves them with six established starters for five spots. Don't expect Harvey, Zack Wheeler or Jacob deGrom to budge from the rotation, and don't expect the Mets to move the left-handed Jon Niese or the 41-year-old Bartolo Colon. That leaves Gee, whom the team tried to trade throughout the offseason without success. Though Gee wants to start and will have a chance to compete for the role, it may not happen without someone else getting injured.
3. How will Bobby Parnell fit into the back end of the bullpen?
Right now, Jenrry Mejia is the closer, as he should be after last year's strong performance. But with Parnell slated to fully recover from Tommy John surgery by May, manager Terry Collins has already indicated that he should receive his job back once healthy. That may make for a sticky situation if Mejia is pitching well at the time. For now, Spring Training is a chance for Parnell to prove his health and for Mejia to prove he's the best option regardless, particularly with Jeurys Familia and Vic Black also lurking at the back end of the bullpen.