By Ed Coleman
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The Mets will take on the Miami Marlins once again today, this time in Port St. Lucie. and Johan Santana is expected to either long-toss or throw a bullpen to keep himself on line to make a start Sunday against the Marlins.
Jonathan Niese was sharp on Wednesday in Jupiter as the Mets shutout the Marlins 7-0. Niese was a little anxious to get going before his first spring start, but he delivered two solid innings, striking out 2 while walking one. Niese was pretty happy with his performance.
Last year Niese worked hard to perfect his cutter and it became a very effective pitch for him. This spring, he’s making progress with the changeup, hopefully with the same results.
Manager Terry Collins was pleased to see Niese use the change and knows it will help.
The strong pitching wasn’t just limited to Niese. Five Mets relievers combined for 7 scoreless innings to complete the blanking of Miami. Righties Ramon Ramirez and Manny Acosta and lefties Chuck James and Garrett Olson all looked good – as did Bobby Parnell who had a 1-2-3 inning. It was a nice bounceback for Parnell, who had a nightmarish effort his last time out, and Collins had some kind words for him afterwards.
The real star of the day, though, was Justin Turner. Turner delivered run-scoring singles in his first two at-bats, then crushed a home run after that. J.T. has filled in nicely at 3B for the injured David Wright – no surprise to Collins.
Turner will sub for Wright again today and bat second against the Marlins. Andres Torres, who had a bases-clearing triple in his last start on Tuesday, will leadoff. Yesterday, Ruben Tejada led off in Jupiter and drew walks in his first two trips to the plate. Tejada and Daniel Murphy will rest today while Ronny Cedeno (2B) and Omar Quintanilla (SS) play. Jason Bay and Mike Baxter will flank Torres in the outfield, Lucas May does the catching, and Ike Davis will DH while Adam Loewen mans 1B.
Mike Pelfrey makes his first spring start against the ever-temperamental Carlos Zambrano of the Marlins. Met relievers expected to go on Thursday are Frank Francisco, Tim Byrdak, Daniel Herrera, Jon Rauch and D.J. Carrasco.
Notes: Andres Torres has been scratched from Thursday’s lineup. Nothing serious, just a minor glute injury. Kirk Nieuwenhuis will fill for Torres and play centerfield.
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