02/24/2013 6:12 PM ET
Niese, Gee solid, Montero dazzles vs. Michigan
By Anthony DiComo / MLB.com
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The 1,844 fans who filtered into Tradition Field on Sunday witnessed a bit of the present and a bit of the future.
First, the present: Jon Niese and Dillon Gee struck out three batters apiece, each allowing one run over two innings of a 5-2 victory against the University of Michigan. For Niese, the outing was a chance to shake off some rust -- he threw two wild pitches before settling down. For Gee, it was his first appearance since undergoing emergency surgery to remove a blood clot from his throwing shoulder last July. Then there was the future: top prospect Rafael Montero dazzled with two perfect innings, striking out one, and infielder Wilmer Flores hit a solo home run in the sixth.
Outfielder Marlon Byrd also hit a run-scoring single in the second inning for the Mets, who typically kick off each spring with a game against Michigan, principal owner Fred Wilpon's alma mater.
Heart condition keeps Feliciano out of activities
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Reliever Pedro Feliciano will not participate in any baseball activities for the next two weeks, until the Mets receive an updated diagnosis on his heart condition.
General manager Sandy Alderson cautioned that Feliciano's claim of a hole in his heart may not be accurate, though Feliciano reiterated Sunday that an MRI exam revealed "little holes like outside the heart."
"The doctors have asked that he be monitored over the next couple of weeks," Alderson said. "Until that time, we won't really have a diagnosis. With respect to his comment that he has a hole in his heart, I don't think that's clear at this point."
"They said in the test that I had little holes like outside the heart," Feliciano reiterated Sunday. "Little holes, but I don't feel anything. That's what they said in the MRI."
Feliciano is waiting on a heart monitor, which he will wear for two weeks. He will not participate in any baseball activities during that time.
The left-hander said he does not have an official diagnosis for his condition, which he jokingly referred to as "Feliciano's Condition." Manager Terry Collins noted a day earlier that it "could possibly be very serious."
"I don't feel anything," Feliciano said. "I'm healthy. I work hard. I never feel dizzy or anything. It was surprising for me. But the doctors are the ones who know. I have to wait and be relaxed until they tell me I'm cleared."
In the meantime, four other lefty relievers will compete for what appears to be one open spot in the bullpen. Josh Edgin is a heavy favorite to break camp with the team, leaving Robert Carson, Darin Gorski, Scott Rice and Aaron Laffey to compete for one other spot. Feliciano had been a favorite for that role until tests revealed his condition.
"I was ready, man," Feliciano said. "I was happy to pitch on Friday, and now to be down is hard. I hope when I come back, I'll just pitch good and surprise everybody and make the team."
Harvey works with future batterymate d'Arnaud
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The future was on display Sunday afternoon in Kissimmee, Fla., where Matt Harvey made his Grapefruit League debut pitching to new batterymate Travis d'Arnaud.
"I thought we both did well," d'Arnaud told reporters in Kissimmee. "As far as me and Matt go, it was my first time catching him. I'll get to learn how he pitches and everything soon. We've got time."
Harvey struck three batters and gave up one run over two innings, in his first outing of what should be a stress-free spring for the right-hander. Unlike last year, when he kept one eye trained on his long-shot bid to make the Opening Day roster, Harvey is guaranteed a rotation spot heading into this season.
As a result, he can use his Grapefruit League outings to work on secondary pitches and refine his fastball command, two areas of concern for the former top prospect.
"My arm and body are in shape," Harvey told reporters. "It's just a matter of the location not quite [being] there. I made a lot of good pitches, but I also made some that missed the plate a little too much. It's early. I'm happy where my arm's at."
Harvey can also spend time developing a rapport with d'Arnaud, who could serve as his catcher for the next six years or more. The Mets are eager to see d'Arnaud develop relationships with Harvey and Zack Wheeler, whom they consider cornerstones of their future rotation.
Early on, new batting stance not suiting Duda
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- So far, Lucas Duda's new approach has resulted in nothing but frustration.
Tinkering with a new batting stance this spring, Duda finished 0-for-4 with four strikeouts Sunday in the Mets' 7-7 tie with the Astros in Kissimmee, Fla. Manager Terry Collins told reporters in Kissimmee that Duda's new approach remains "a work in progress."
"He's trying to change his stride a little bit, so it's not so much movement, and he's just not getting himself in hitting position right now," Collins said. "The only way to get it is to get in the batter's box and swing. And today he had a terrible day, but it's going to come with making the adjustments he's trying to make."
Through two Grapefruit League games, Duda is 0-for-7 with six strikeouts.