PORT ST. LUCIE — After a turbulent winter, spring has finally sprung for the Mets.
The official report date to spring training for Mets pitchers and catchers is Monday, but most players fitting that description have been trickling into First Data Field over the last several days to get an early jump, so it won’t be necessary for the ball to drop over Times Square to ring in the new year.
But Camp Callaway is now in session.
Mickey Callaway, hired in October as the 21st manager in franchise history, has spent the last 2 ¹/₂ months becoming acquainted with his players through phone conversations and text messages. Now he and pitching coach Dave Eiland will take those relationships to a new level.
The first workout for pitchers and catchers is Wednesday. Position players will report to camp by Saturday, with the initial full-squad workout slated for Feb. 19.
“I am very excited to get started with these guys,” Zack Wheeler said Sunday. “They seem very personable and helpful. I’m very excited, though, because I’m feeling healthy and strong.”
Wheeler is among several Mets pitchers who missed significant time last season. Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, Seth Lugo and Jeurys Familia were also on the disabled list extensively in a season the Mets finished 70-92 after two straight years in the playoffs.
The fallout included Terry Collins’ resignation after seven seasons as manager. Collins, whose contract was set to expire, was reassigned within the organization and he will serve as a special assistant to general manager Sandy Alderson, helping with the minor leagues.
The 42-year-old Callaway spent the last five seasons as Indians pitching coach under Terry Francona. He became the first Mets manager with a pitching background since Dallas Green was hired in 1993.
The first noticeable difference this spring will be Callaway’s schedule, which appears more favorable to the players than his predecessor’s. Under Collins, players were generally on the field by 9 a.m., and worked out past noon.
Callaway plans to have players on the field at 10 a.m., and finished by 11:15.
“I want to get on and off the field,” Callaway said. “You can’t have standing around. That leads to injuries.”
Maybe the biggest theme this spring will be injuries — or more specifically preventing them. The hurt parade last year started in camp, with Matz and Lugo hitting the disabled list before Opening Day.
Matz underwent surgery in September to relocate the ulnar nerve in his left elbow, a procedure similar to one Jacob deGrom received the previous year. Harvey, who underwent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome in 2016, dealt with a stress injury to his scapula and Lugo continues to pitch with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. Wheeler, who missed 2015 and 2016 recovering from Tommy John surgery, had a stress injury in his arm that ended his season in August. But the biggest setback to the Mets rotation was losing Syndergaard for most of the season with a torn lat muscle.
Eiland, a former pitching coach with the Yankees and Royals who has a World Series ring from each stop, implemented a throwing program over the winter designed to ensure his pitchers would arrive at camp in shape, but not overextended.
“They are hungry,” Eiland recently told The Post. “The ones I have talked to, I get the sense they are a little upset. I know they are upset with the way things went last year and they are hungry and they want redemption.
“They are out to prove a lot of people wrong and quiet some of the critics out there, but more than that it’s for themselves and the team and the organization.”
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