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02/14/2013 3:27 PM ET

Parnell credits knuckle-curve for success

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Bobby Parnell credits much of his recent success -- and the resulting ninth-inning duties that he is on track to obtain -- to the knuckle-curve Jason Isringhausen taught him back in 2011. Initially fooling with the pitch late that year, Parnell committed to it during Spring Training 2012 as he scrapped his slider altogether.

It's a valuable pitch, yet advanced metrics reveal that Parnell's slider was actually a more effective offering than his knuckle-curve. That Parnell improved his overall numbers in 2012 was thanks in large part to some much-improved control, and also to a better fastball.

So what gives? Pitching coach Dan Warthen said Parnell's fastball has become a more effective weapon due to a greater separation of velocity between it and his breaking ball. Whereas Parnell used to throw his primary breaking pitch in the upper-80s, he now throws his knuckle-curve in the lower 80s. As a result, hitters have a more difficult time adjusting from one pitch to the other.

"The spread of velocity always works," Warthen said. "It's a big difference, a seven- or eight-mile an hour difference."

Warthen also noted that Parnell tends not to throw many flat knuckle-curves, which had been an issue for him with the slider.

Collins happy with early turnout at Mets camp

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Terry Collins believes his public criticism of Ruben Tejada last February may have spooked a few extra players into reporting early for Spring Training in 2013. He's happy if it did.

The Mets manager expressed plenty of disappointment last year when Tejada reported on time -- not early -- to camp. So perhaps it was no surprise the shortstop was among a sizeable contingent of position players who reported a full week -- or in some cases, multiple weeks -- early this spring.

"Make no mistake about it: the minute you think players don't know what's going on, you've made a huge mistake," Collins said. "These guys are very aware and very on top of all the situations. They know there's jobs here."

Fifty-four of the 58 players expected in camp are already present. Two of the absentees, Marlon Byrd and Jordany Valdespin, are taking a few days off after their winter ball teams advanced to the Caribbean Series. Infielder Wilfredo Tovar is also absent, as is right-hander Jenrry Mejia, who is working out in the Dominican Republic due to visa issues.

The trend all started with Tejada, who arrived even earlier than he originally intended in an effort to avoid last weekend's Winter Storm Nemo. Tejada spent the final two weeks of his offseason working out on Long Island with former teammate Jose Reyes.

Then again, David Wright typically makes it a point to arrive in Port St. Lucie each year right around the Super Bowl, another example of Wright leading by example.

"One of the things we've talked about, we've really stressed, is the importance of starting the season right," Collins said. "And the best way to do it is to have guys in game shape -- midseason form as a lot of people say -- starting April 1. And they do that by being here early."

Mets push back workouts due to rain

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Turn off those alarm clocks. Due to forecasts of continued rain in the area, the Mets have pushed Friday's workout back to noon ET. Manager Terry Collins hopes the change will allow his team to avoid a replay of Thursday's sloppy conditions, which robbed pitchers and catchers of a regular workout.

"We didn't get all the conditioning in we wanted," Collins said. "We've got to get the throwing in, because starting next Monday those guys have got to be ready to start throwing batting practice and get ready for games. We got the work done we wanted, but we've got some other things we've got to get done too."

Friday's forecast calls for morning showers to taper off into the afternoon. The Mets typically begin their workouts at 10 a.m.

All workouts at the Tradition Field complex are open to the public.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.