Collins in touch with Classic teams on usage

Concern for health of pitchers a priority for Mets manager

Collins in touch with Classic teams on usage

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets manager Terry Collins on Wednesday backed up Noah Syndergaard's decision to decline Team USA's World Baseball Classic invitation, calling it "the right thing" for Syndergaard's health.

"He's coming off a pretty intense year and I know his goal is to get ready for the season," Collins said. "I think down the road, there will be another [World Baseball Classic] that he'll be able to pitch in if he wants. But I think he's got the mindset that, 'Hey, we've got big things here and I've got to make sure I'm ready.' We've been talking since the end of last season about health, health, health, and he was not going to sacrifice anything to get in the way of getting ready for the year."

Though Syndergaard is the lone Mets starter coming off a full big league season, he has thrown 388 2/3 innings the past two years, including postseason play. Syndergaard's offseason regimen involved bulking up another 15 pounds to increase his muscle mass, and his goal, he says, is to throw even harder.

But Syndergaard's absence does not mean the Mets will be underrepresented at the World Baseball Classic. On the contrary, as they have 14 players scheduled to participate in the event, including nine on their 40-man roster.

Already, Collins has talked to officials from Team Puerto Rico about starting pitcher Seth Lugo's usage, as well as to Team Mexico regarding reliever Fernando Salas. The Mets will stay in constant contact with those and other World Baseball Classic teams regarding the health of their players.

"I know [Major League Baseball] is working hard to make sure that the health of these guys around that team is first and foremost," Collins said. "I love the [World Baseball Classic]. I think the competition side is fun. The issue is getting everybody ready."

@AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.