Justin Turner’s Dinger Backs Niese’s Spotless Performance As Mets Hammer Marlins
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JUPITER, Fla. (AP/WFAN) — Jonathon Niese admitted he was anxious during pregame warm-ups for his first start.
He thought it was a good thing.
Niese used that nervous energy to pitch two hitless innings for New York in a 7-0 win over a Miami Marlins split-squad that played without former Mets star Jose Reyes.
“It feels good to get that adrenaline rush again,” Niese said.
Niese faced seven batters, striking out two and walking one while throwing 19 of 31 pitches for strikes.
“His command was outstanding,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “He kept the ball down. He’s got outstanding stuff, and when he pounds that strike zone he gets easy outs.”
Niese, who went 11-11 last season, is working to develop a changeup and use it more this year, which is something Collins would be happy to see.
“The changeup is the best pitch in baseball,” Collins said. “If you’re a pitcher you should have a changeup in your repertoire.”
Reyes was with the Marlins split-squad in Miami for a game against Florida International University at their new ballpark.
The Marlins managed just four hits against the Mets. They didn’t record their first until the fifth inning when Donnie Murphy doubled to left.
“Everybody has their off-days,” Murphy said. “We’re going to be fine. We don’t even have our whole team here. I’m not worried about it. Everybody is still getting their timing in and eventually will hit their stride, and we’ll be fine.”
Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez went 0-for-2 and left fielder Chris Coghlan went 0-for-3. Starter Sean West allowed three runs in 1 2/3 innings.
Justin Turner led the Mets with a home run, three hits and three RBIs in three at-bats.
“When you get opportunities like he did last year you make the most of them,” Collins said. “He showed everybody that he belongs in the big leagues. One thing he gives us is that he can play anywhere in the infield, which is going to be huge for us. He’s a baseball player in my mind and the perfect guy to have on this club.”
Turner had two RBI singles in his first two at-bats before homering to left field off of Rob Rasmussen.
The 22-year-old Ruben Tejada, who is expected to take over for Reyes at shortstop, was 0-for-1 with two walks and a run scored.
“He’s in great shape and looks very, very good defensively,” Collins said. “His plate discipline has been great. He’s swung the bat good so he’s right on schedule.”
The Mets scored three runs in the first two innings off of West before scoring three runs in the fifth sparked by Turner’s homer.
Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas each had a pair of hits for the Mets.
NOTES: Mets LHP Johan Santana felt fine a day after pitching two innings against the Cardinals in his first action since Sept. 2, 2010. “He felt good,” Collins said. “No matter if you’ve had surgery or not you’re going to be sore the next day. Everybody is after they pitch. I’m sure he had some stiffness, but he felt good, so everything is moving forward.” … Marlins RHP Carlos Zambrano will make his first appearance of the spring on Thursday in a start against the Mets in Port St. Lucie. The Mets will counter with RHP Mike Pelfrey.
Will Niese be the ace of the Mets’ staff before it’s all said and done this season? Let us know…
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