PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The wait is over.
All 64 Mets have officially reported to camp in advance of Saturday's first full-squad workout. For the first time in at least four years, no players were delayed by visa issues.
Position players took their physicals early Friday morning and, with a few exceptions, took the rest of the day off. It was their last chance for some rest; the team does not have another scheduled off-day until March 19.
"The reason why Spring Training is six weeks long is for pitchers," Collins said, "but it's about the team. When the team shows up, there's a little bit more energy."
Collins did not plan to regale his players with a lengthy speech on Saturday morning, preferring to save that for later in camp once cuts are made.
"Then it has a little bit more meaning," he said. "Some of these guys are going to be gone in 10 days, two weeks, whatever it might be, so I'm going to hold off on the big message until a little bit later in Spring Training."
Backstops being trained in new plate procedures
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- An almost comical scene unfolded on a practice field at the Mets' complex late Friday morning, as general manager Sandy Alderson attempted to demonstrate what his catchers can and cannot do under Major League Baseball's proposed prohibition of blocking home plate.
All five catchers in camp watched as Alderson and bench coach Bob Geren discussed proper and improper blocking techniques. Though MLB has not approved any specific language on the new rules just yet, Alderson -- who is chairman of the Playing Rules Committee -- assumes that will happen within the next few days.
Even if it does not, Alderson said, the Mets are among a growing population of clubs instructing their catchers to stop blocking home plate anyway. The organization gave the injury-prone Travis d'Arnaud that mandate last spring in an attempt to keep him healthy and now has extended it to Anthony Recker, Taylor Teagarden, Juan Centeno and Kevin Plawecki, as well as every catcher in Minor League camp.
"We know more about concussions and so forth now than we knew 10 or 15 years ago," said Alderson, who traveled to nearby Jupiter on Thursday to discuss the issue with MLB executives Joe Torre and Tony La Russa. "We have to think about that. I'd rather be proactive than reactive."
Alderson expects a rule to be ratified soon requiring baserunners to slide into home plate on close plays and, by extension, requiring catchers to leave runners a lane to do so. But a gray area will exist in which catchers need to lunge across the plate to receive a throw, a situation that will be reviewable on instant replay.
It should be a learning process for both catchers and baserunners, but Alderson believes it will ultimately result in increased safety throughout the game.
"If you talk to former catchers, there are maybe one or two who voiced a different opinion," he said. "But the ones that I've talked to, or who have reached out to me, more or less to a man, they think that it's in the best interests of catching, and the game as well, to change the rule."
Parnell takes day off with tight left quad
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Closer Bobby Parnell took a brief break from his rehab program on Friday to nurse a tight left quad.
Parnell, who was scheduled to throw another bullpen session in his continued rehab from neck surgery late last season, instead took the day off. Manager Terry Collins hopes that his closer can climb back on a mound on Saturday, though the Mets will be cautious.
"He just complained about it [on Thursday] after practice," Collins said. "He came in [on Friday] and said he felt a lot better, but [trainer] Ray [Ramirez] just said, 'Hey, one more day, and we'll get you some treatment.'"
The Mets expect Parnell to be fully recovered from surgery well in advance of Opening Day.