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Friday, March 14, 2014
Marlins 1, Mets 0: Wheeler 'little bit better'

By Adam Rubin

JUPITER, Fla. -- Zack Wheeler surrendered a solo homer to Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the second inning but no other damage in 4 2/3 innings as the Mets lost to the Miami Marlins, 1-0, Friday night at Roger Dean Stadium.

The Mets had only a handful of regulars in the lineup, including Chris Young and Ruben Tejada, because half the camp had traveled to Las Vegas in the afternoon in advance of weekend exhibition games against the Chicago Cubs.

Although there were some hard-hit balls, Wheeler limited the Marlins to three hits and one walk while striking out two in his third Grapefruit League start. He threw 60 pitches (34 strikes).

“A little bit better than the last one,” Wheeler said. “I was just throwing a lot of fastballs, trying to get my arm strength up, get my locations down. It could have been better, but I’m pleased with it.

“How many pitches did I end up with?” the right-hander continued.

After learning the total, Wheeler added: “That’s good, for five innings. That’s better than I usually do. It could be better, like I said. But I was just working on a lot of stuff. My changeup was a lot better today. My timing was a little bit better out of the windup and out of the stretch.”

Wheeler’s regular-season debut is expected to come in Game 4, on April 4 against the Cincinnati Reds.

“By the time it does roll around I’ll be ready to go,” Wheeler said.

Scott Rice, Jose Valverde and Jeurys Familia followed Wheeler by combining to toss 3 1/3 no-hit relief innings.

Seawolves standout: Stony Brook University product Tom Koehler, expected to be the fifth starter for the Marlins, blanked the Mets for five innings in a 63-pitch effort (42 strikes). Koehler struck out five while limiting the Mets to three hits and a walk.

“That Koehler is getting better every year,” one scout on hand said after clocking the right-hander at 96 mph.

It’s a hit: A day after Tejada committed his third Grapefruit League error and Terry Collins gave him a vote of confidence as the team’s shortstop, Tejada went 1-for-3 and played an error-free five innings. Tejada now has two hits in 18 at-bats. He had missed a week early in camp with a left hamstring injury.

“Everything is good,” said Tejada, who worked with Edgardo Alfonzo on infield play before the game.

What’s next: The Mets play games in two time zones Saturday. In Port St. Lucie, Dillon Gee opposes Minnesota Twins left-hander Scott Diamond at 1:10 p.m. (PIX/WOR). In Las Vegas, Bartolo Colon opposes Cubs right-hander Carlos Pimentel at 4:05 p.m. ET (WGN).