Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Lannan receptive to any role with Mets
By Adam Rubin
Jeff Roberson/Associated PressPORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Starter or reliever, left-hander John Lannan would be satisfied to earn an Opening Day roster spot with the New York Mets.
John Lannan will get Wednesday's start, but also a bullpen look during spring training.
The 29-year-old Lannan will continue to ramp up his workload and will remain in the fifth-starter competition, including getting Wednesday’s Grapefruit League start against the St. Louis Cardinals at Tradition Field. But now that Scott Rice is the lone lefty in the bullpen, Lannan also will get a look in a relief role.
“I think that’s been the plan since Day 1. They’ve been pretty transparent with that,” Lannan said Tuesday morning about getting relief exposure for the first time in his career. “TC asked me how I felt about it. Obviously I’ll do anything to help the team, in any capacity.”
All 148 of Lannan’s career big-league appearances have come as a starting pitcher. All but seven of his 95 minor-league appearances have come in that capacity, too.
And those limited bullpen appearances in the minors were not bona fide relief opportunities in reality.
Early in his pro career, Lannan “piggybacked” another starter’s appearances. In essence, one pitcher would log the first several innings. And then Lannan essentially would be the second starter in the game, beginning with a clean inning.
In 2007, in his most recent regular-season relief appearance, Lannan was given an inning of relief late in the season just to get work before getting shut down for the year.
Lannan said the closest he has come recently to a relief appearance came last year, when he “piggybacked” a Kyle Kendrick exhibition start with the Philadelphia Phillies.
“I want to see how I am when the phone rings and I don’t have any warning,” Lannan said. “You always hear about that adrenaline rush when the phone rings. If it does come to that point, I want to see how I react to that.”
One big adjustment for starters is not having the same warm-up time when they shift to the bullpen. Still, in all likelihood, Terry Collins would recognize a string of left-handers due up an inning or two beforehand and give ample warning.
“I get pretty loose pretty quick,” Lannan added.
Lannan, who underwent surgery last August to repair a tendon that links the thigh muscles to the knee in his left leg, so far is pleased with his body of work in Mets camp. He has allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits while striking out four and walking none in four innings over two appearances entering Wednesday’s start.
“You’ve got to balance the competition and trusting the process at the same time, which is kind of tough at times,” Lannan said. “Right now I feel pretty good about it. That’s the main thing, especially after coming off of surgery. I’m not even a half-year out, and it feels really good.”
Asked if he had resignation that because the Mets want to look at him in the bullpen, he will not get the same consideration as Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jenrry Mejia for a starter’s role, Lannan indicated otherwise.
“I don’t think anything right now. I’m just going to take it as it is,” Lannan said. “I think that I’m not done as a starter. I think the last few years I’ve kind of run into, I don’t want to say back luck, but some unfortunate circumstances -- in 2012 getting sent to Triple-A and last year with the injury I had. I really haven’t had a chance to really have a full body of work, like I did in 2011 (3.70 ERA in 33 starts with the Nats).
“I don’t think I’m done [starting], but I’m looking forward to the possibility of pitching in the big leagues. Whatever capacity that is, I’m just looking forward to it.”