Mets will not be throwing at anyone in retaliation on Monday
It’s been widely assumed the Mets would offer some form of retaliation against Chase Utley and the Dodgers after Utley collided with Ruben Tejada at second base, breaking Tejada’s leg on Saturday night in Los Angeles.
But Terry Collins said his club will not be retaliating, instead the club will be focusing on winning Monday’s game three.
“We need to not worry about retaliating. We need to worry about winning,” the manager explained. “The one thing you don’t need to do is get yourself in a situation to put yourself on the bad side. I understand everything that happened. As frustrated as we are, as upset as we are, we feel so bad for Ruben, but the one thing we can’t do is cost ourselves a game, and this particular game, because we’re angry.
“We can play angry, but we gotta play under control,” Collins said.
But even the manager has to make sure he keeps his emotions in check after what took place in Los Angeles.
After Saturday night I got a big challenge tonight. I gotta keep things under control,” he said.
Collins said Matt Harvey has been told not to throw at anyone on Monday night.
The Mets manager has spent the last two days attempting to shift the focus away from the incident, and to the job at hand which is to win these playoff games.
“As I told our coaches and everybody else, ‘look, we just gotta go get ourselves ready to play a baseball game. We can’t worry about what happened two days ago; it’s over. We’ve gotta move on. We’ve got to go play baseball, and the minute we make this some type of a grudge match, we’re going to make some mistakes and we can’t do that,'” he said.
As for the lineup, Collins said the Mets considered starting Michael Conforto and/or Michael Cuddyer, but the matchups against Brett Anderson were not particularly favorable.
“No. 1,” Collins began to explain, “[Cuddyer]is 1-for-12 against Anderson, so we didn’t think that was a good matchup. Righties do hit homers off this guy. And the one thing we haven’t asked Michael Conforto to do since he’s been called up to the Big Leagues is start a game against a left-handed pitcher, and I didn’t think Game 3 in the playoffs, with all the other attention going on to what’s going to happen out there tonight, that it was the best chance to give him his first shot.”
Collins is confident Conforto can hit left-handed pitchers, but re-iterated that this was not the time to be experimenting with Conforto. Instead, he chose Lagares and his .771 OPS against left-handed pitching in 2015.
“I think he can hit lefties,” Collins said about Conforto. “I told you guys, I think he’s going to be an outstanding player, but this is what we’ve been doing since he came here and we said you know what, it gives us our best defense. If we need some offense, we can certainly pinch-hit. But that’s how we thought we’d start the game.”
As for Wilmer Flores taking over at shortstop, Collins is confident in his abilities, claiming one of the reasons didn’t play a lot at the end of the year was due to his back injury and strep throat.
“The other day in Los Angeles I talked to him and he said he feels 100 percent,” Collins said. “The back feels great. The throat is fine. He’s eating again. He’s got some energy back, so I just told him to go play, not to get caught up in anything but going out and playing shortstop.
“He’s a guy we gotta turn to right now,” Collins continued. “I think that’s why he’s up for it. I don’t want to put any more pressure on him, but we just protected ourselves by bringing Matt Reynolds here just in case something happens, and we need a guy who’s at least been at shortstop more than [Kelly Johnson] has. So that’s why he’s here.”
Collins Sint sure how much Reynolds will play in the postseason, but he likes his new backup’s makeup as a player.
“He’s a baseball player,” Collins explained. “One of the things Wally (Backman) told me when I talked to him about Matt, he says, this guy knows how to play the game. He’s an outstanding baserunner. He’s an intelligent kid. All right, at someplace along the line you gotta enter the big stage. This is a little more difficult than others, but you know what, he’s the highest ranking shortstop we got. So he was the guy we needed to bring here.
“So if he goes in the game,” Collins continued, “I’m going to have all the confidence in the world that he can catch the baseball. That’s all I want him to do. Not worried about any other phases but playing baseball the way he always has, and that’s all out.”
As for the bullpen, Collins insists he’s remained confident in his relief corps despite some struggles over the first two games, claiming Tyler Clippard’s struggles in particular are due to fatigue.
“Here’s always going to be a blip someplace,” Collins said. [Tyler Clippard] has had a great year, and the last couple of weeks he’s starting to get the ball up a little bit. I always think it’s slot time when that happens. It’s due to fatigue. Those kind of guys are up all the time. They’re always warming up. That’s why I thought the breaks here might help out, get his arm back a little bit.”
Collins said he was a little bit surprised when he learned Utley wouldn’t be in Monday’s lineup, given his good history against Harvey and at Citi Field.
Collins wondered if Utley might be suffering from after effects of the collision.
Said Collins, “Don knows his team better than me, but I got the same stats he’s got, and I know he swings the bat pretty good against Matt Harvey, but I know he’s got him sitting over there. And again, I’m not sure if he — after I saw the replay several times of the play at second, he’s lucky he didn’t get hurt, because he took a pretty good shot, so maybe that’s an effect, too.
“He has a knack of beating us somehow. So let him sit over on the bench for eight innings,” Collins said.
As for who he and the team would rather face in game four, Terry Collins made it clear it was not Clayton Kershaw.
“Would I have any preference? Yeah, I’ve got a preference,” he said laughing. “Believe me, this is no slap at Alex Wood. He’s a fine pitcher, but I don’t want that other monster on the mound. I can tell you that. Again, no disrespect, because he’s a good pitcher, but I’ve been around [Kershaw]way too much. I know exactly what he can do.”