DENVER -- Right-hander Shaun Marcum continued his rehab Thursday with a 41-pitch outing on a back field in Florida, striking out five over four perfect innings of an extended spring camp game.
Earlier Thursday, manager Terry Collins said he expected Marcum to throw 65-70 pitches in the outing, then increase his workload to 90 pitches next time out -- his last step before returning from the disabled list. But because Marcum threw only 41 pitches Thursday, he may need multiple additional outings to reach 90.
The Mets do not need a fifth starter again until April 27, but it is unclear if Marcum will be ready by that point. He has been on the disabled list since Opening Day with nerve inflammation in his neck, but Marcum currently feels no pain, according to Collins.
"We'll have to see how he comes out of the game today," Collins said. "I don't have anything written down as a time frame."
Also rehabbing in Florida are relievers Frank Francisco (right elbow inflammation) and Pedro Feliciano (left shoulder weakness). Both pitchers fired scoreless innings Wednesday for Class A St. Lucie, but neither has a timetable for his return.
Weather plays part in Mets' outfield at Coors
DENVER -- Unwilling to test outfielder Lucas Duda's stiff back in near-freezing temperatures, the Mets used an alternative outfield alignment for Thursday's game at Coors Field. With Duda on the bench, Jordany Valdespin started in left field, Marlon Byrd made his season debut in center field and Mike Baxter started in right.
Though Valdespin has seen most of his outfield reps in center this year, manager Terry Collins feared overexposing him in Coors Field's vast center field. Playing right in the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader, Valdespin took two awkward routes to balls, resulting in a double and a triple.
"Putting him in center field, I think, is an injustice to him here," Collins said, "as tough as it is here."
Compounding the issue is that the Mets have not taken batting practice -- and, by extension, outfield practice -- since Saturday. Valdespin, who had never played the outfield at Coors before this week, did not have a chance to track balls here.
"It comes down to this park … this is a tough place to play the outfield," Collins said. "I'd rather have the experienced guy in center field, so that's why I decided to put Marlon out there."
As for Duda, the outfielder "was still a little stiff" after leaving Game 2 of Tuesday's doubleheader in the fifth inning, according to Collins. The Mets will revisit the issue amidst warmer temperatures Friday in New York.
"The pain wasn't too bad, but there's a process that we want to make sure he goes through before he's ready," Collins said. "Twenty-two degrees is not really the time to test it."
Back in bigs, Familia eager to help Mets
DENVER -- Now that Jeurys Familia has dominated the Minor Leagues for two weeks, he is ready to translate that into big league success.
"I'm excited to be back, be in the Major Leagues with the Mets," Familia said Thursday, after the Mets officially recalled him from Triple-A Las Vegas and optioned struggling submariner Greg Burke to the Minors. "I'm feeling good right now."
Familia said he has worked hard to pound the strike zone with first-pitch fastballs, setting up his slider later in the count. Control is the key for Familia, who walked only one batter in five scoreless Triple-A innings.