PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) _ Francisco Rodriguez was sharp in his return to the mound for the first time in a Mets uniform since last August
The right-hander pitched a quick, scoreless third inning in his spring debut, allowing just one hit and striking out one batter, and New York went on to beat a split squad of St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 on Thursday.
Rodriguez was placed on the disqualified list after an incident at Citi Field last summer when he attacked his girlfriend’s father and tore a ligament in his right thumb. He since has settled his grievance with the organization and is doing court-mandated anger management sessions as part of his plea agreement.
“I’m pleased with the outing,” Rodriguez said. “I didn’t get much work because they jumped right away early in the count, but I’m happy. … My command was there, which is good. Now I just need to get a little stronger and move forward.”
Daniel Descalso flied out on a first pitch to left field, Shane Robinson doubled on a first pitch, and Tyler Greene struck out before Matt Carpenter flew out to right field to end Rodriguez’s brief appearance.
It was an all-around good day for the Mets’ pitching staff.
Oliver Perez started things off with two strong innings, as he bounced back from a shaky first outing in which he allowed four runs on four hits with three walks in three innings Sunday.
Perez, whose velocity has been down since coming back from knee surgery in September 2009, gave up two hits and didn’t walk any batters Thursday, while throwing 16 of 25 pitches for strikes.
“I was really focused to be ready for this game and trying to get better and trying to change everything that happened in the last game,” Perez said. “That’s why spring training is important.
You don’t have to think about everything that happened. You just have to focus on the job and just have fun.”
The outing was good enough that manager Terry Collins said it kept Perez in the mix for a spot in the starting rotation.
“If he would have had a tough day, I probably would have thought about (what) we talked about when we came in here, and that is that situational lefty (spot) because he does get left-handed hitters out,” Collins said. “He did what we asked him to do today, and we are going to run him out there again.”
The Mets backed up their pitching early on, scoring a run in the first inning before recording a hit. Jose Reyes reached on an error, moved to second on a passed ball and scored on David Wright’s sacrifice fly to left field.
Ike Davis doubled to score Wright home from first base in the third inning, and Daniel Murphy lined a single to left, allowing Willie Harris to score in the fifth.
Davis finished 2 for 2 with a walk, and catcher Josh Thole also had two hits for the Mets.
Cardinals starter pitcher Jaime Garcia, making his spring debut, struggled slightly with his command in the first inning, but came back with a strong second frame. He gave up just two hits, one unearned run and a walk in two innings.
“It was just the first game I was a little jumpy at the beginning,” Garcia said. “I felt really good today, but for the first game I was probably a little too excited. Sometimes you feel too good and you try to do too much, but it’s normal. My arm feels good, everything is good. It’s just I need to make some adjustments.”
Allen Craig went 2 for 3 and Cardinals right-hander P.J. Walters allowed two runs, three hits and four walks in 2 1-3 innings.
NOTES: Mets RHP Jenrry Mejia will miss some time in camp as he is set to fly back to the Dominican Republic on Friday to be with his mother, Fidelia, as she prepares for surgery on Monday. He is expected back early next week. … Chris Capuano, a candidate for the Mets starting rotation, pitched just one inning in relief because he was throwing on short rest. He gave up one hit and no walks.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)