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Sunday, March 10, 2013
Mets 3, Cards 0: 'Spin, Familia keep shining

By Adam Rubin

JUPITER, Fla. -- Jordany Valdespin bounced an RBI single through a drawn-in infield in the eighth and Jamie Hoffmann tacked on a two-run double an inning later as the Mets blanked the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-0, Sunday at Roger Dean Stadium.

Shaun Marcum combined with six relievers on a three-hit shutout.

Game tidbits:

V DAY: Valdespin is looking like a lock for the Opening Day roster. He entered the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, this time in right field.

Assuming Valdespin is considered an outfielder, which is what he exclusively has been playing for nearly a week now, the April outfield would appear to be Lucas Duda, Collin Cowgill, Marlon Byrd, Mike Baxter and Valdespin.

Valdespin played right field throughout the Caribbean Series, which ended on the eve of spring training, so he arrived sharp.

"He's an aggressive guy. He plays with enthusiasm," Terry Collins said. "He's got some excitement to him. He swings, and he's dangerous, because he's got some power. If he hits the ball on the ground, just like today, even though it got up the middle, he'd probably beat it out had they been playing back."

Said Valdespin: "The outfield is different, but I'm ready for any situation."

ON THE MARC: Marcum surrendered one hit -- a two-out double by Shane Robinson in the second -- and no other baserunners in 3 2/3 innings in his third Grapefruit League appearance.

"I'm feeling a lot better, heading in the right direction," Marcum said. "I'm 100 percent not where I want to be, but we still have a few weeks left. ... As far as mechanics, which was my main focus the last couple of bullpens and today's start, everything felt a lot better. There were a couple that I rushed on, and a couple of changeups I pushed and didn't locate, but for the most part everything felt pretty good today."

Said Collins: "His location is tremendous. That's his trademark, and he showed that today."

AUDITION CONTINUES: Collins inserted Pedro Feliciano with a pair of lefty batters due up in relief of Marcum. Mixed results ensued.

Feliciano, entering with two out in the fourth, coaxed a pop-out to shortstop from Matt Adams. The following frame, Feliciano walked Oscar Taveras while again registering only 83 mph on a stadium scoreboard. He then departed.

Feliciano may need to up his velocity to emerge as a second southpaw in the bullpen alongside Josh Edgin.

PEN ULTIMATE: Feliciano, along with Scott Atchison, Scott Rice, Jeurys Familia, Greg Burke and Carlos Torres, combined to limit the Cardinals to two hits and one walk in relief of Marcum.

Familia, who tossed a 1-2-3 seventh that included coaxing three grounders, has been particularly strong. He has shown a consistent release point now that he is only a reliever and exclusively working out of the stretch.

"Today we saw the sinker we know he's got," Collins said. "They just beat ball after ball into the ground. I told Dan [Warthen] when we came into camp: 'If we can do one thing in this camp -- wherever he's going to pitch -- we've got to make sure that sinker is consistent.'"

Familia is starting to look like a strong bet for the Opening Day roster. In fact, if Feliciano is not selected, both Familia and the submariner Burke may come north.

"Right now I feel good, because it's something I did last year -- the bullpen," Familia said. "I practiced in the offseason back home."