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Thursday, March 6, 2014
Mets pitchers getting healthier

By Adam Rubin
ESPNNewYork.com

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- A banged-up New York Mets camp got somewhat healthier Thursday.

For the first time since last July 30, closer Bobby Parnell pitched in a game-type situation, as the right-hander and rotation members Jonathon Niese and Bartolo Colon faced teammates in a controlled intrasquad game Thursday morning.

It marked Parnell's first time in a game since undergoing season-ending surgery Sept. 10 to address a herniated disk in his neck.

"I was happy with it," Parnell said. "It's still way early in the spring. There's plenty of time to get it going."

Niese, meanwhile, was facing batters for the first time since being dispatched to New York for an MRI of his pitching shoulder on Feb. 26. Niese had missed two months last season with a rotator cuff tear, but the MRI last month merely revealed weakness in a muscle group near the scapula behind the shoulder.

Niese, the expected Opening Day starter for a second straight season, tossed two innings Thursday. He said the weakness and discomfort that surfaced early in camp had disappeared.

"It's a great feeling to go out there and not feel any pain in your shoulder," Niese said. "It was a great step forward to go out on the mound and feel very close to 100 percent."

Colon, signed to a two-year, $20 million deal in December, logged three innings in his first game as a Met. His fastball ranged from 86 to 89 mph during a 54-pitch effort that ended with him serving up a homer to team captain David Wright. Colon had been slowed early in camp by a calf issue.

Wright, Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada took all of the at-bats in the controlled game. Manager Terry Collins has held Wright and Murphy out of the first week of Grapefruit League games to attempt to minimize their risk of injury. Both infielders had suffered side-muscle injuries during previous spring trainings, so Collins wanted to approach this camp cautiously. Both are expected to make their 2014 exhibition debuts Friday, when the Mets host the St. Louis Cardinals in Port St. Lucie.

"The last couple of years I've had the abdominal/oblique injuries," Wright said. "So to kind of slow it up this year, to kind of take those baby steps before ramping it up, I think helps me out. On top of that, I've really missed, I think, three-quarters of spring training the last two years, and I've felt like I've been prepared to start the season."

Tejada (hamstring) indicated he also is ready to re-enter the lineup Friday.

However, first basemen Lucas Duda and Davis will be out of Grapefruit League games longer. Davis, although batting in Thursday's controlled game, did not run to first base. Both calves have been bothering him -- although the right hurts more so than the left. He believes the issue originated in the weight room.

"I think I did something in the weight room where I was lifting. And I kind of weakened them," Davis said. "And then in the game it just tightened up. That's the thing -- it wasn't painful. It just felt tight. And then the next day they were obviously a lot tighter than I thought they were going to be.

"You know, I'd rather miss a little bit now than completely tear it or pull it so I miss a month or the beginning of the season. This is the time to actually get healthy. I'm still getting my work in. I'm still seeing pitching, like I did today."

Duda was removed from Monday's game against the Atlanta Braves with left hamstring tightness and has not resumed play.

"It's just tight at the bottom of the hamstring," he said. "It's feeling much better daily."