Updated Citi: Mets debut ballpark's new dimensions
Injured relievers Black, Parnell on track to begin rehab assignments
NEW YORK -- When the Mets entered their summer-long home for the first time on Monday morning, there was the usual confusion over whose locker had been moved where, whose suitcase still needed unpacking and so on and so forth. That stuff happens every April at Citi Field. What doesn't happen are the curious glances some Mets shot toward the right-center-field wall, which the team moved in for the second time in three years.
Hitters took their hacks at the new fence for the first time during early batting practice, while outfielders walked over to diagnose the caroms. The Mets' hope is that the new dimensions will help left-handed sluggers Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda add to their home run totals from a year ago, will give right-handers David Wright and Travis d'Arnaud a more realistic opposite-field target and will do all of that without hurting their pitching staff too much.
"There's a reason why we moved the right-center-field fence in," manager Terry Collins said. "Obviously, with Grandy, Duda, David, d'Arnaud -- guys who really use right-center field as a power area for them -- we think it will help, because we play more games here than anybody. We realize there's going to be some balls hit off us that normally get caught that are going to be homers now, but that's just part of the game. I think playing in our park, it's about the confidence of your own team, that they can do damage, and I think it will help out."
In researching the wall change, the Mets determined that they would have hit 17 additional homers had the dimensions been in place last season, versus 10 for their competitors. Granderson in particular would have benefited.
But general manager Sandy Alderson admitted he did not clear the change with his pitchers. Asked if any of them complained over the winter, he simply said: "No."
"But I didn't give them my phone number," the GM quipped.
More notes from Monday's home opener at Citi Field:
• Injured relievers Vic Black (right shoulder tendinitis) and Bobby Parnell (recovery from Tommy John surgery) are both scheduled to begin Minor League rehab assignments early this week. Both pitchers are expected to rejoin the Mets in late April or early May.
• Alderson said he spoke to suspended Mets closer Jenrry Mejia over the weekend, but had no comment on Mejia's contention that he was unaware how the performance-enhancing substance Stanozolol entered his body. "He knows he made a mistake, and is paying a price," Alderson said. "We're paying a price. And we'll move ahead."
• For their home opener, the Mets made one lineup tweak, bumping red-hot catcher d'Arnaud up from seventh to sixth. D'Arnaud hit .333 on the team's season-opening road trip.