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, Fla. (AP) — An MRI of Jed Lowrie’s left knee was negative, and the New York Mets said the infielder is likely to be ready for opening day even though he’s behind schedule.“It’s nothing serious,” manager Mickey Callaway said Friday. “We’re going to progress slowly so that when he comes back to play he’s 100 percent.”The 34-year-old Lowrie provides valuable depth because he can play second base, third base and shortstop. An 11-year veteran, he played 153 or more games in each of the last two seasons for Oakland.New York envisions Lowrie getting regular playing time at multiple positions, useful to provide days off for 36-year-old Robinson Cano and 33-year-old Todd Frazier.“That’s why we brought in depth. If something unfortunate happens, we’re covered,” Callaway said. “The guys we have in their 30s have played a lot of games in their 30s.“Cano is going to play in a lot of games,” Callaway added. “He knows how to take care of himself. I’m not that concerned about it because of who we have in their 30s out there and the way they prepare.”New general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has worked out the math.“Brodie has said if you have five infielders and four infield positions, that comes out to about 130 games apiece,” Callaway said.Ahead of Saturday’s spring training opener against Atlanta, the Mets held a simulated game that featured players hitting off a pitching machine set at 50 feet and throwing 90 mph.Jeff McNeil hit one of only two homers in the brief contest, a drive that landed at the top of the berm in right field. Non-roster outfielder Rymer Liriano had the other in the game’s second at-bat.“The pitching machine was nice. It’s a nice drill because it speeds things up, and we get a lot of things done,” McNeil said.Top prospect Pete Alonso doubled down the left-field line. Van Wagenen has said he will not start Alonso in the minors just to extend his free-agency eligibility by a year beyond the 2024-25 offseason.Offseason acquisition Walker Lockett will start Saturday. The 24-year-old right-hander is a candidate to be the Mets’ sixth starter when injuries hit, along with left-hander Hector Santiago, also set to pitch against the Braves.“It’s awesome. It’s exciting,” Lockett said. “New organization, and they’re giving me an opportunity. There’s nothing more that’s going to get you fired up than to play with guys like that behind you.”NOTES: Cleon Jones, Art Shamsky and Ed Kranepool of the 1969 champion Mets were at camp. “That year, with Joe Namath running off the field and pointing his finger after winning the Super Bowl http://www.angelsfanproshop.com/authentic-zack-cozart-jersey
, Cleon catching that ball in the last out of the World Series and Willis Reed running on the court for Game 7 against the Lakers for the Knicks, those are icon moments in the history of sports in New York,” Shamsky said. … INF T.J. Rivera has taken a couple of days off from throwing. “I was full-go a couple of days ago, but I had a little soreness from the throwing just because I’ve lengthened it out a little bit,” said Rivera, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery in 2017. Bryce Harper has been a celebrity since he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high school player. No player ever entered professional baseball with more fanfare.His training was under the tutelage of his father, a blue-collar steelworker, who pushed him to be a “can’t-miss” prospect. This father-son relationship was akin to Earl and Tiger Woods. Most young talented kids fight this kind of parental pressure, being consumed with the daily push to be the best ever. Most are blown out after a 150-game high school, travel team, showcase and All-Star game schedule.Not Bryce Harper. Bring on more. He goes against the ol’ axiom of “don’t equate more with better.” Harper couldn’t get enough.There was, and is, nothing about him that doesn’t equate to superstardom. Run, hit for power and average, good defender, great throwing arm, great attitude and a Pete Rose will to win.Maybe one question would be his penchant for striking out. So what? In today’s game, it’s very acceptable. His 162-game average for Ks is 150. If his power numbers are there, who cares?Bryce is in his eighth year and for several reasons has not been the player he was expected to be. With the exception of an MVP year with 42 HRs and 99 RBIs in 2015, he has fallen short of his and everyone’s expectations. There have been injuries and inconsistencies due to strikeouts and pitchers working around him, but nonetheless he’s maintained his status as one of the league’s stars.Harper is left-handed and the Phillies are a predominantly right-handed lineup. Makes for a perfect fit. Rhys Hoskins Nolan Ryan Jersey
, Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto — the meat of it — all right-handed. The addition of Harper, along with Odubel Herrera and switch-hitting Cesar Hernandez, makes the lineup balanced and one of the best in the majors on paper. Paper never won anything, now they have to prove it.If you want to question $330 million for a player with two good seasons in seven tries, go ahead, but don’t blame the player. He became a free agent under the rules, bargained his services and that’s what the market offered.You can compare this contract to others this offseason and it will boggle your mind. But Harper is now a Phillie and we’re damn happy.So what’s Bryce facing becoming the newest Phillie and highest-paid player in baseball history? Let’s ask someone who knows — me. I was the Bryce Harper of the ’80s, the largest contract ever, six years over $12 million guaranteed. Only $318 million short. People always say I was born too soon, I say it all worked out perfect. I could have been born earlier, before free agency, like Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, who never made $250,000.My experience becoming a major league player was a cartoon before a movie compared to Harper’s. No one had any idea who I was, nor did I.I was insecure, subject to pressing under pressure and feared failure. Sure, I hit many big home runs to win games, but a two-out RBI single was unlikely, kinda all or nothing. I remember the boos loud and clear.That all changed as I grew and matured as person and a hitter. Bryce Harper, from my perspective http://www.angelsfanproshop.com/authentic-zack-cozart-jersey
, came to the big leagues ready for pressure. It has been a part of his life all along and he seems comfortable with it. Playing in this age of social media, TV exposure and daily scrutiny, forced him to learn to handle pressure in both his private and professional lives.But Philly is a whole different animal. Even though Citizens Bank Park has a more friendly environment than the old Vet, it’s still home to the most knowledgeable and passionate fans in baseball. They care, they want a winner and they will have your back if you give them 100 percent.When he hits the field for his opening home game, there will be a warm standing ovation. They will thank him for choosing their town, much like one of his idols — Pete Rose — did in 1979. Bryce is the kind of player they love, he will interact with them, he will run hard and take the extra base, run into walls, play injured, and yes, even hit 30 home runs and drive in 100. Just play hard and hustle, and all will be fine.In 1979, Pete came to Philadelphia because he saw a team very close to a championship. He knew all we needed was someone to help us get out of our own way, a new, respected voice in the clubhouse, someone to be the media focus so the rest of us could relax.The Phillies are counting that Bryce Harper will provide all those things for them, plus 120 RBIs. A new era in Phillies baseball will begin March 28.I wouldn’t miss it!