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Bobby Abreu returns to an MLB lineup

Bobby Abreu #53 of the New York Mets

Bobby Abreu #53 of the New York Mets looks on in the third inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field on Monday, Apr. 21, 2014 in the Queens Borough of New York City. (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Just a few notes from another windy day here at Citi Field.

1. Welcome Bobby Ball

It’s Throwback Thursday on Twitter, and apparently, the same goes at Citi Field. Bobby Abreu, 40, will start his first big league game since July 25, 2012. Despite a swirling wind similar to Wednesday night, manager Terry Collins is going with Abreu.

“He’s 40 years old,” Collins said. “He probably doesn’t move like he once did. I’m sure he can still throw. He’s never had arm issues.”

Abreu will be the Mets’ primary bat off the bench. But to keep him sharp, Collins said he wants to start Abreu at least once a week. And because this is the National League, that means he’ll be seeing some time in the outfield.

“I want to get his bat in the lineup, get him some at-bats,” Collins said.

2. The Grandyman sits

Abreu’s presence in the lineup means a day off for the scuffling Curtis Granderson -- mere hours after he snapped his career-worst 0-for-22 hitless streak. Collins carefully tried to frame it. He insists that Granderson is getting a routine day off as opposed to a mental health break.

“I don’t think Curtis Granderson is afraid of anything,” Collins said. “I don’t think he needs a day to clear his head. His mentality is not like that. This guy wants to play, loves to play.”

As a result, first baseman Lucas Duda will bat in the cleanup spot for the first time since the trade of Ike Davis. Collins had expressed some hesitation about moving Duda into the cleanup spot out of concern that the pressure of doing so might be too much.

3. Get a grip

Michael Pineda’s latest experiment with pine tar has triggered another round of chatter about the role of foreign substances on the pitcher’s mound. Even within the Mets' family, there is some disagreement.

Collins expressed a fairly common view about the use of pine tar, which pitchers often use to discreetly get a better grip on the ball. He even equated the technically illegal practice to a safety issue.

“I spent a lot of years in a league where it was hard to grip the baseball,” said Collins, a veteran of the Pacific Coast League. “I spent a lot of years in Albuquerque, where it’s dry, it’s high, it’s cold, it’s windy in the spring. And the option is this. I either get a grip on the ball or I’m hitting someone in the neck because I haven’t got a grip on it. If you asked the hitters, they’d say get a grip on it. You’ve still got to make pitches. You’ve got to be a little bit discreet. You can’t just walk out with a pine tar bottle and put it on your hands.”

Mets legend Doc Gooden voiced his opposition on Twitter. He believes the argument about hitter safety to be a canard. His Tweets:

-- “lets put to rest all this talk about pine tar to get a better grip on the ball to protect the hitters!”

-- “Pine tar is used 2 make ur breaking pitches sharper& help ur sinker 4 more movement!”

-- “You can blow in your hand for a better grip when it's cold... enough already!”

Here’s a few observations after batting the topic around the clubhouse on Thursday morning:

1. The key distinction seems to be about discretion. Using something like pine tar for grip isn’t that big a deal so long as it’s not flaunted. There doesn’t seem to be a widespread belief that finding some extra grip in tough conditions crosses the line into cheating.

2. While Pineda’s method involves pine tar, other pitchers actually go with spray-on sunscreen, which is invisible and achieves mostly the same effect of adding moisture when dryness makes it tough to get a grip.

3. Pineda should’ve known better than to mess around with pine tar so soon after he was popped for it.

4. Cardinals vs. Mets lineups

Cardinals righthander Lance Lynn (4-0, 3.42 ERA) faces off against the ageless Bartolo Colon (1-3, 5.40 ERA):

Cardinals

Matt Carpenter 5
Jon Jay 8
Matt Holliday 7
Matt Adams 3
Allen Craig 9
Daniel Descalso 6
Kolten Wong 4
Tony Cruz 2
Lance Lynn 1

Mets

Eric Young Jr. 7
Daniel Murphy 4
David Wright 5
Lucas Duda 3
Chris Young 8
Bobby Abreu 9
Anthony Recker 2
Ruben Tejada 6
Bartolo Colon 1​

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