Mets back at .500 mark for first time since April 9

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The Mets might not be contenders come July, but we can at least hold off on the fire sale talk for a few days. With a 2-1 win over the Yankees last night, the Mets are back at the .500 mark (22-22) for the first time since April 9.

R.A. Dickey, who entered the night with a 5.08 ERA, tossed six innings of one-run ball for his first win since his first start of the season. Justin Turner continued his hot hitting by going 3-for-4 with an RBI double while Daniel Murphy put the Mets ahead with a solo shot in the sixth inning. Francisco Rodriguez pitched for the third straight day and converted his 15th consecutive save.

The Mets were 5-13 as recently as April 20, but have won 17 out of their last 26 games. Yes, they have had some surprising contributions from the likes of the Jason Pridie and the aforementioned Justin Turner, but the big key has been the pitching staff. They have an impressive 2.89 ERA since April 20.

Sure, many still wonder when Sandy Alderson will take a hammer to the roster or how the club will find a way to avoid K-Rod’s vesting option, but the team’s recent surge should put a stop to all that. At least for a little while. It’s depressing, anyway. It’s time to enjoy the season for what it is.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉