Pedro Feliciano has set consecutive franchise records for relief appearances with 86 in 2008, then 88 last year. And Fernando Nieve is on pace to shatter that record. Nieve has appeared in 14 of the Mets’ first 22 games. If that rate continues, he’ll pitch in 103 games.
Nieve is 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA and eight walks in 13 innings. He’s had seven straight scoreless appearances. Nieve’s workload is tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Ramon Troncoso for the most appearances in the majors this season.
“If I feel sore or something, I will let them know about it,” Nieve said. “So far, now, I’m good.”
Nieve said it’s easy knowing he has a late-inning role.
“Now I’m more focused on what I have to do,” Nieve said. “I know what’s going to be the situation where I get in the game. Before, you didn’t know what was going to happen.”
BEL-BOTTOM: Carlos Beltran remains not cleared to run, and whether he even returns during the season’s first half is an open question. Beltran was fitted for a knee brace during a recent visit to the Vail, Colo., doctors who performed his Jan. 13 arthroscopic knee surgery. He’s signed through 2011.
The Mets-Phillies series will also be lacking Jimmy Rollins, who fared better than Beltran in the “team-to-beat” banter of recent years. Rollins is on the disabled list with a right calf strain.
BOO WHO? Certain players are magnets for booing in an opposing ballpark, such as Chipper Jones at Citi Field. Well, in Philly, Mets catcher Rod Barajas gives Billy Wagner a run for his money as most jeered. Barajas hit .230 with four homers and 10 RBIs in 48 games for the Phillies in 2007.
“I guess they weren’t happy with my performance that one year,” Barajas said. “It’s OK. I put it behind me and enjoy playing there.”
FRIENDLY CONFINES: The Mets’ hitters have started to heat up, and visits to Citizens Bank Park and Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park during the upcoming six-game trip figure to provide an even greater jolt. Those stadiums arguably are the most hitter-friendly venues in the National League. The Mets had nine- and six-run outputs in games in Cincinnati to open last season. In ’08, the Mets had 12- and eight-run outbursts during a three-game series on the banks of the Ohio River.
ACES ALIGNED: Mike Pelfrey suggested he does like being lined up against Phillies ace Roy Halladay on Saturday.
“Absolutely,” Pelfrey said. “Sometimes when you go against guys that are great, or however you want to describe it, it brings the best out of you. Going into the game, you know he’s going to be good on the other side. If you want to win, which you want to, you’re going to have to be good, too.”
Pelfrey, by the way, is a bargain this season. He’s earning $500,000 -- a pay cut from $3.3 million a season ago. That’s because Pelfrey’s original contract as a first-round pick out of Wichita State expired before the right-hander had enough service time to qualify for arbitration. Pelfrey will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season. He’s not a free agent until after the 2013 campaign.
Teammate/friend John Maine ribbed Pelfrey by suggesting he deserved the slash in pay after going 10-12 with a 5.03 ERA last season.
“You get rewarded for pitching bad?” Maine dryly asked within earshot of Pelfrey.
There’s probably room for a retort from Pelfrey. The arbitration-eligible Maine’s salary jumped to $3.3 million this year, up from $2.6 million in ’09.