Kirk N-I-E-U-W-E-N-H-U-I-S Applesauce: Are There Any Local Spelling Bees That I Can Enter?

BASEBALL!

Meet the Mets

The Mets selfishly decided to take Friday off, leaving Mets fans high and dry for a day but luckily, the regular season action resumes this afternoon at 1:10PM. Even better, you'll get to see everybody's favorite knuckleballer R.A. Dickey take the hill for his first start of the season and he'll be opposed by Jair Jurrjens for the Braves. You can catch all of the action on SNY and WFAN.

Friday was a mostly quiet day for the Mets but the biggest development thus far in this young season, outside of the Opening Day win, is the calf injury Andres Torres suffered. Torres has hit the 15-day DL and will be replaced by 24-year old center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis (didn't even have to look his name up--I am ITBSOML!), who will make his big league debut today. Just to give you some background, Kirk was the Mets 3rd round draft pick out of Azusa Pacific University in 2008, the fifth player taken in that draft after Ike Davis, Reese Havens, Brad Holt and the recently released Javier Rodriguez. Kirk will hit eighth and play center field today, while wearing jersey #9. So what should we expect out of him? Toby Hyde plugs last year's numbers into the Minor League Equivalency calculator, while Howard Megdal takes a look at his ZIPS projection. Hopefully, something in between those two lines is realistic and that really wouldn't be a bad rookie year at all.

It looks like the Mets will announce Jon Niese's 5 year contract extension at an 11:30 AM press conference. Over at Baseball Nation, Marc Normandin examines Niese's body of work thus far and wonders whether Niese is the next Ricky Nolasco, who's known for excellent peripherals but high ERAs because of how hittable he is. No worries, though, as our buddy Eno Sarris is here to quell those nasty thoughts about Niese's future. Meanwhile, Anthony DiComo analyzes Niese's extension and answers some fan questions in this week's Mets mailbag.

The reconfiguration of the Citi Field outfield walls was a big topic of discussion all offseason but you may not have realized that there was one casualty in the addition of the Party City Deck: the Championship Banners. Formerly housed on the Great Wall of Flushing, the banners were moved out of the outfield and now hang from the Caesars' level on the third base side. At the Daily Stache, Devon Jeffreys wonders why they were moved to this location and not somewhere else in the outfield, in better view.

Frank Francisco is one clean save into his Mets career, so should they look to trade him now? Matt Kaufman of Rising Apple says, while now would be too soon, the Mets may want to explore dealing him later this season and he pinpoints the Red Sox as the number one target because of the injury to Andrew Bailey.

Around the Majors

The entire NL East was off on Friday, so we'll skip the Around the Division section this morning. However, if you want to write for a Phillies' blog, The Good Phight is asking around Twitter and they're setting their sights high. I'm sure Salman Rushdie and Cormac McCarthy have nothing better to do and could use the experience and exposure. Perhaps they should've asked Sal Bass instead.

Carlos Pena's return to Tampa went swimmingly, as the first baseman hit a grand slam in the first inning and then hit a long walk-off single off of Mariano Rivera in the 9th to win it for the Rays, 7-6 over the Yankees at the Trop.

Albert Who? The Cardinals blew away Brewers' Yovani Gallardo, cracking three home runs in the third inning alone off the Brewers' ace, as they smoked Milwaukee 11-5. In that fateful third inning, Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday and David Freese went deep and Yadier Molina also hit one in the second inning off of Gallardo.

Speaking of King Albert, he made his debut in Anaheim and went 0-3, as Jered Weaver and Bruce Chen dueled it out over seven shutout innings. The Angels broke through in the eighth against relievers Aaron Crow and Greg Holland, scoring five runs and leading them to a thrilling 5-0 victory.

Remember when Randy Johnson, shortly after being acquired by the Yankees, got into a fight and pushed down a local tv cameraman? Well, ironic as it may sound, The Big Unit has gotten into photography in his time off from baseball, though it's not something that's foreign to him. Johnson studied Photojournalism at the University of Southern California.

Finally, want to work in baseball? Dave Gershman of Beyond the Box Score shares the second part of his "How To Land A Job In Baseball" series.

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