3/9/2014 7:58 P.M. ET
Parnell's return to mound a welcome sight for Mets
By Marty Noble / MLB.com
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets manager Terry Collins said he experienced a "warm feeling" when Bobby Parnell made his first appearance in an official game since undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck on Sept. 10.
"A lot of things change and fall into place when the closer is 100 percent," Collins said.
Parnell hadn't been scheduled to pitch on Sunday, but he told Collins he was ready not only to pitch, but to throw without easing up on the throttle. He faced five batters in the ninth inning after the Mets scored seven runs in the eighth and allowed one hit and an unearned run.
He said his final pitches to Tyler Greene were full bore.
"I wanted to see how my mechanics would be with the adrenaline rush," Parnell said. "That at-bat got me going."
First-base competition slowed by injuries to Ike, Duda
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Ike Davis walked with a discernible limp on Sunday and his badly bruised calf featured enough colors to compete with a Lindsey Nelson sports jacket or a Jimi Hendrix headband.
At the same time, the word in the clubhouse is that Lucas Duda's left hamstring is not improving. It seems clear now that the competition for the Mets' first-base assignment is not a matter of survival of the fittest but rather survival of the least unfit.
Three weeks remain before Opening Day. Davis and Duda have combined for 13 at-bats. Mets manager Terry Collins wanted Davis to get at least 100 at-bats in Spring Training games in the hopes that, if Davis was to have a slow start, it would occur in Florida.
"He'll have to get a lot of AB's on the Minor League side," Collins said.
Mets Minor Leaguers begin playing next week.
Collins said he'd like to have both first basemen playing by next weekend.
Lagares, E. Young competing for time in outfield
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Juan Lagares made another remarkable throw Sunday, this one from center field to third base, when Andrelton Simmons unwisely tried to advance two bases on a single by B.J. Upton in the first inning.
Mets manager Terry Collins said, "I guess [Upton] didn't remember last year." Lagares cut down Braves right fielder Jason Heyward in back-to-back games last season.
The competition between Lagares and Eric Young for regular time in the outfield continues. Collins said Sunday his decision -- Lagares playing center and batting low in the order, or Young leading off and playing left -- probably won't be made until 10 games remain on the spring schedule.
Without Matt Harvey and regardless of whom turns out to be the fifth starter, the Mets will not have a strikeout rotation, making defense more critical. But no team wins without some offense. Moreover, with so many unsettled assignments and no sense how the batting order will produce, Collins may be forced to use Eric Young in left and Chris Young, a capable defender, in center.
If Lagares plays center and Eric Young sits, Chris Young will bat leadoff.
• Daniel Murphy wasn't in the lineup Sunday because of the scraped shin he suffered Friday. He injured the leg sliding into second base in his first game of the spring.
"Tough to describe," Murphy said. "It's just sore. We all wanted to play it safe. I always look at it this way, the same way I did last year: If I needed to play in a game tomorrow, one of 162, I would play. It puts me at peace of mind at least from where I'm at now. Now's the time of year to get it right."
• Jon Niese, the Mets' likely Opening Day starter, is set to make his first appearance Tuesday against the Cardinals.
• New Jersey governor Chris Christie was a guest of owner Fred Wilpon on Sunday.
• The attendance Sunday (7,678) was the highest figure in the history of Tradition Field.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.