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Notes: Lugo no fan of opener; Fargas' ST cycle

@AnthonyDiComo
March 5, 2020

JUPITER, Fla. -- Like many teams, the Mets have spent time this spring discussing creative alternatives to a traditional five-man rotation. Among them is the possibility of using an opener -- a strategy the organization has largely ignored in recent years despite its growing popularity in baseball.

JUPITER, Fla. -- Like many teams, the Mets have spent time this spring discussing creative alternatives to a traditional five-man rotation. Among them is the possibility of using an opener -- a strategy the organization has largely ignored in recent years despite its growing popularity in baseball.

Should the Mets pursue that option, Seth Lugo profiles as an obvious choice, given his history as a starter and his ability to record four-plus outs.

The only problem? Lugo’s not a fan of the idea.

“I don’t think an opener belongs in baseball,” Lugo said Thursday, after pitching in a simulated game in Port St. Lucie, Fla. “Starters are starters. I’m old-school, so I like the game the way it’s meant to be played.”

For years, Lugo has spoken openly of his desire to be a starting pitcher, which he was for most of his early career. He would like to return to that role eventually -- but not if it means only pitching an inning or two at a time.

Teams such as the Rays and Yankees have found success using openers to dictate matchups early in games, to prevent opposing teams from stacking their lineups with platoon hitters, or to help starters who tend not to last more than five or six innings anyway. But in Lugo’s estimation, using a strong reliever early means wasting that pitcher if the game becomes lopsided in the middle innings.

For now, the idea of regularly using openers remains just that for the Mets -- an idea. Lugo said he is unsure how he would respond if the Mets asked him to fill the role.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’ll let you know if that happens.”

In his sim game, Lugo allowed hits to prospects Ronny Mauricio and Mark Vientos. But more importantly, he looked and felt healthy despite the broken bone in his left pinkie toe. His next step will be a Grapefruit League debut in the coming days.

Don’t see that every day

When non-roster outfielder Johneshwy Fargas hit the game-tying homer in the eighth inning of Thursday’s 7-7 draw with the Cardinals, he accomplished a rare feat: a Spring Training cycle.

While no formal records exist to keep track of Spring Training cycles, they’re nearly impossible to accomplish because players don’t often receive four plate appearances in Grapefruit or Cactus League games. But Fargas did, managing a triple in the second inning, a double in the fourth, a single in the sixth and that homer in the eighth.

A Minor League signing this winter, Fargas isn’t a serious candidate to make the Mets’ Opening Day roster. But he has drawn rave reviews for his athleticism after stealing 50 bases in the Giants organization last summer.

“It’s been great just being up here in big league camp,” Fargas said through an interpreter. “I’m just trying to learn every day.”

Tuning up

Rick Porcello struck out four batters in three scoreless innings Thursday, lowering his Grapefruit League ERA to 1.50 in three starts. Porcello, who signed a $10 million contract to join the Mets this winter, projects to fill either the fourth or fifth spot in the club’s rotation.

“I’m commanding the ball better, getting more guys out,” Porcello said of his performance this spring. “I’m just a lot more confident.”

Save the date
The Mets have scheduled their ceremony to retire Jerry Koosman’s No. 36 at Citi Field for June 13, before a 4:10 p.m. ET game against the Nationals. Koosman will become the fifth Mets player or manager to have his number retired by the team, joining Casey Stengel, Gil Hodges, Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza. In a statement, he called it a “life-changing thrill and honor.”

“I can’t wait until June 13,” Koosman said.

From the trainer’s room
• Non-roster first baseman Matt Adams returned to Mets camp on Thursday, following a trip to New York for additional cardiac screening. Adams, who missed nearly a week of camp, received “good results” on all his tests, according to general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, and plans to resume unrestricted baseball activities on Friday.

• Outfielder J.D. Davis, who jammed his left shoulder on a play at third base last week, continues to ramp up baseball activities. He plans to take live batting practice in the coming days, with an eye toward returning to Grapefruit League play potentially next week.

• The Mets still have no timetable on infielder Jed Lowrie, who “continues to be fully unrestricted with all baseball activities,” according to Van Wagenen. The problem appears to be the bulky brace on Lowrie’s left leg, which may not be adequate for game play.

• Right-handed reliever Dellin Betances, who has been taking it slow this spring after an offseason spent recovering from a partially torn left Achilles tendon, is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut Saturday against the Nationals.

• Left-hander Steven Matz, who left camp early on Tuesday due to illness, is feeling better and expects to make his next start Saturday against the Nats. Jacob deGrom will start a simulated game that day, rather than the “A” game.

Up next
With the Mets’ rotation competition in full swing, Michael Wacha will start a rare 6:05 p.m. ET game Friday against the Astros in West Palm Beach, Fla. Wacha is battling Matz for the final spot in the Mets’ rotation -- assuming the club decides to go with five starters.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.