Terry Collins: “I don’t answer to fans”

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He doesn’t. But it’s one of those things that you tend to do better never actually saying. But Collins said it anyway yesterday, in response to the flap in which Mets players did not appear to have Jordany Valdespin’s back after he got plunked by a Pirates pitcher on Saturday night:

“I don’t answer to fans,” Collins said before the Mets’ 10-4 loss in St. Louis. “They don’t play this game. They have no idea what goes on. They have no idea what goes on in there. They have absolutely no idea what it means to be a professional teammate at this level.”

I don’t disagree with anything Collins said there. Nor do I disagree with the Mets not congratulating Valdespin on his homer Friday or retaliating for him being plunked afterward. He was showboating when the team was down by a substantial margin. And while I don’t much care for pitchers hitting guys on purpose, baseball players all knew that Valdespin was out of line per their unwritten rules and the Mets were acting in accord with those rules. Mike Francesa doesn’t like it? Cry me a freakin’ river. The guy is a clown.

At the same time, however, Collins has been around long enough, one would hope, to know that the response to this sort of flap should be to diffuse it with either wit or boring cliches. Not to be prickly about it and never, ever, to go after fans like that. By doing so he gave this little non-story new life — you can bet that Francesa and the yakkers will be all over it today — and has helped create a distraction.

Which maybe shouldn’t be all that surprising. Collins has been a better, more mature manager with the Mets than he was back in the day with Houston and Anaheim. But this prickly little thing is reminiscent of his mid-to-late 90s oeuvre.

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.