KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The first ball that came Daniel Murphy's way Tuesday at Osceola County Stadium was just what the defense doctor ordered -- a tailor-made double-play relay after the Astros' Carlos Lee grounded to third with two on and one out.It was just the sort of play Murphy has set his mind to mastering on the back fields in Port St. Lucie, just the sort of play he is hoping to see with regularity here in the Grapefruit League. And he blew it. Murphy got the toss from third baseman Vinny Rottino and cleared the bag for the first out, but he air-mailed his throw to first, allowing Lee to reach and Jason Bourgeois to score on the error. "Other than throwing it into the third row," Murphy said with a smile, "I felt good about it." He felt good about it because Spring Training is all about repetition, and these in-game experiences are Murphy's opportunities to make himself a capable defender at second base. And even if the experiences don't go as planned, they can at least be used as learning experiences. "I don't want to see our pitchers put anybody on," he said, "but if they're going to, put 'em on first and let's get a double-play ball. Right now I need double-play balls. I need 'em, I need 'em, I need 'em. And I think, as I continue to get them, my heart rate will slow down on them." Murphy has been working on the transition of the ball from the glove to the hand on double-play relays. He's trying to shorten his stroke in order to get a quicker release. "I can do it on Field 3 back home in St. Lucie until I'm blue in the face," he said, "but I need to do some of these things in the game. If I'm going to boot one, I'd rather do it on March 6 than April 6."
Beato pulled with shoulder stiffness
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- As soon as Pedro Beato took the mound for his warm-up pitches on Tuesday, Mets manager Terry Collins could plainly see that something was wrong. Beato's mechanics were completely out of whack, leading Collins to believe that the reliever was injured.
Beato left the game after facing just two Cardinals' batters, complaining of a bout of right-shoulder stiffness. Neither he nor Collins, who blamed Beato's injury on the windy conditions at Digital Domain Park, believed it was anything serious.
"It's Spring Training, so you're going to feel tight while throwing, especially at the beginning of the year," Beato said. "It just wouldn't loosen up."
The Mets should have a better idea on Thursday as to whether Beato will miss any significant time. Already, the hard-throwing right-hander is shading toward the wrong side of the bullpen bubble, battling Bobby Parnell, D.J. Carrasco and a host of left-handed options for two available roster spots. Missing time due to injury can only hurt his chances.
"It's no pain or anything, it's just stiff," Beato said. "I think it's just throwing every day, getting back to that baseball activity. I don't think it's anything serious."
Nimmo excitable in first Major League action
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Terry Collins chuckled when asked about Brandon Nimmo, the 18-year-old first-round Draft pick and No. 4 rated prospect in the Mets' system making a cameo in Tuesday's Major League game against the Cardinals. More than anything he did on the field, Nimmo caught Collins' attention by rushing out of the dugout to greet D.J. Carrasco after a strong inning on the mound.
"I need to let him know that you can let the players get to the dugout before you shake their hands," Collins said, laughing. "You don't have to meet them at the foul line."
Such eagerness can be expected out of a teenager spending his first moments in a Major League dugout, rubbing elbows with some of the players he has grown used to seeing on television. Because the Mets needed extra bodies for a pair of split-squad games on Tuesday, they borrowed Nimmo and several other Minor Leaguers to fill out their rosters.
The gesture was not lost on Nimmo, who drew a walk and scored a run in his first plate appearance.
"Just to talk to the guys and pick their brains, it's something that I sat in bed when I was a kid and dreamt about," Nimmo said. "I love it. I'd like to do it more."
• David Wright participated in "very intense" weightlifting exercises Monday, according to manager Terry Collins, though Wright will not appear in a game until after the weekend. The Mets are proceeding cautiously with their star third baseman, who is dealing with stiffness in his left rib cage.
• R.A. Dickey took advantage of pitching Tuesday with an unusually strong wind at his back, experimenting to see how his knuckleball would respond. Dickey is used to pitching with a milder wind blowing from left to right field at Citi Field.
"I've rarely had the wind blowing in," said Dickey, who threw two perfect innings. "I found that a hard knuckleball is better."