LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- One of the Mets' top-ranking executives, vice president of business operations Dave Howard, has left the organization to take a job as president of Madison Square Garden Sports. Howard's new role will become effective April 9.
"I am honored to be joining The Madison Square Garden Company, and particularly thrilled to have the privilege of leading MSG Sports," Howard said in a statement. "There are very few organizations anywhere with the strength of MSG's sports brands, and I look forward to utilizing my experience to ensure we build on MSG's position as one of the world's leading sports organizations. I would also like to thank the Mets' ownership and organization for what has been an amazing professional experience in Flushing."
MSG president and chief executive officer Hank Ratner called Howard "one of New York's premier sports executives for over two decades," lauding his "vision and management skills."
A graduate of Dartmouth College and Fordham University of Law, Howard oversaw all of the Mets' business departments, including ticket sales and services, corporate sales and partnerships, marketing and communications, broadcasting, media relations, venue services, ballpark operations, guest experience and security. He was also responsible for the team's Port St. Lucie training facility, and for the business operations of the Class A St. Lucie Mets and Brooklyn Cyclones.
After slow start, everything clicking for Gee
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Apparently, Dillon Gee was not exaggerating when he said something "clicked" in his final inning against the Astros last week. Battling through a miserable spring at the time, Gee struck out the final three batters he faced last Wednesday, then tacked another six shutout innings onto his Grapefruit League line Monday afternoon at Disney.
"Today I wanted to come out and … throw every pitch I have for strikes, not try to nibble, just pound the zone and force contact," said Gee, who struck out seven batters, walked no one and allowed the Braves just two singles in six innings. "Luckily, it was there today."
Heading into the fourth inning last Wednesday in Kissimmee, Gee had produced a 9.00 Grapefruit League ERA with more walks than strikeouts, allowing 11 runs over one particularly brutal four-inning span. He has since fired a total of eight shutout innings with 10 strikeouts and no walks -- good news for a pitcher currently slated to pitch the fourth game of the season.
"It helps," Gee said. "I tried not to get too caught up in how I was going. It's Spring Training. I know what I'm working on. Even though it was pretty bad leading up to this point, I'm so confident in my abilities and I know the kind of guy I can be and I should be. I knew it would come along. I hope I can just keep building off this."
Gee's next outing is scheduled for Saturday in Sarasota in the Mets' final Grapefruit League game. The right-hander will travel to New York from there, prepared to start the Mets' second series at Citi Field against the Marlins.
Den Dekker tweets he won't need surgery
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Matt den Dekker will not need surgery on his broken right wrist, the outfield prospect tweeted on Monday, in what he called the "best possible news."
Den Dekker broke his wrist attempting to make a diving play on Tigers outfielder Austin Jackson's triple in the seventh inning Sunday. Visibly wincing in the clubhouse afterward as Mets trainer Ray Ramirez wrapped his arm, den Dekker learned shortly afterward that the bone was broken.
A day later, doctors in New York told den Dekker that he will not need surgery. The outfielder posted a picture of his wrist in a blue-and-orange cast, writing that he will need to wear the wrap for a month.
Den Dekker finished his first big league camp with a .205 average and one home run in 44 at-bats, impressing the Mets with both his range and instincts in center field. Scouts typically consider him one of the best defensive outfielders in all of Minor League Baseball, but believe he must improve his strikeout rate to stick in the big leagues.
• With the Padres officially naming right-hander Edinson Volquez their Opening Day starter, it is now possible to project the Mets' April 1 lineup: 1. Jordany Valdespin, center field; 2. Daniel Murphy, second base; 3. David Wright, third base; 4. Ike Davis, first base; 5. Marlon Byrd, right field; 6. Lucas Duda, left field; 7. John Buck, catcher; 8. Ruben Tejada, shortstop; 9. Jon Niese, pitcher. If Murphy is not healthy on Opening Day, Justin Turner will take his spot at second base.
• Murphy (strained right intercostal) played seven innings at second base Monday in a Triple-A game against the Marlins, going 0-for-5 at the plate. Murphy said earlier Monday that he "felt good" and "would like to be there" on Opening Day, but offered no guarantees. He has yet to appear in a Major League game this spring.