JUPITER, Fla. -- Spring Training's laid-back atmosphere rarely draws raucous crowds. But all it took was Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon's baserunning antics on Saturday to transform Roger Dean Stadium's 4,858 fans into a rowdy bunch.
First, Colon elicited lighthearted cheers when he ripped a single down the line in the sixth, stopping at first despite ample opportunity to stretch the hit into a double. Moments later, fans roared when Eric Young boomed a fly ball to center, thinking the 265-pound Colon might score on the hit; alas, the ball hopped over the fence, forcing him to stop at third.
"Steal home!" one fan yelled as he tiptoed off the bag, where the Mets ultimately stranded him.
In his next at-bat, Colon hit a dribbler to third base. Again the crowd roared as he half-jogged, half-walked slowly to first, allowing Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee to throw him out by a step.
"Honestly, I was a little scared," Colon, a longtime American Leaguer, said of running the bases. "I haven't done that in a while. Thankfully nothing happened."
Jokes aside, Mets manager Terry Collins has gone out of his way this spring to laud Colon's athleticism despite his large frame -- and that official figure may not be close to accurate. Shortly after signing a two-year, $20 million deal with the Mets, Colon reported to the team's Dominican academy so he could begin working out and hitting. According to eyewitness accounts, he developed blisters on his hands from taking so many swings.
Ultimately, the Mets don't expect much from Colon on offense this season, despite his dedication. They'll be happy simply if he pitches like he did Saturday, giving up two runs over 6 2/3 innings with three strikeouts and no walks. Roughly three-quarters of Colon's pitches were strikes.
"He was just impressive," Collins said. "This guy's a better athlete than what he's teasing you about. This guy's got great feet, he's got great hands. He was hoping he had a chance to bunt today. It's Bartolo. He's a pro."
Murphy still expects to be ready for Opening Day
JUPITER, Fla. -- Lingering longer than expected, Daniel Murphy's sore right calf on Saturday forced the Mets second baseman out of his fifth straight game. Though Murphy said he is not worried about his readiness for Opening Day just yet, only seven games remain between now and March 31.
Manager Terry Collins originally hoped Murphy would return to the lineup Saturday against the Marlins. But when asked Saturday morning if he felt capable of playing at all next week, Murphy told reporters in Port St. Lucie, Fla., that it "is too early to say."
Later in the day, Murphy went 0-4 with a walk in a series of Minor League at-bats, running the bases only during pregame drills. Collins once again said after the game that he expects an imminent return to the lineup for Murphy.
"I'll see how he is in the morning," Collins said.
Though Murphy's injury is unlikely to force him out of Opening Day, it is frustrating the Mets for an entirely different reason. Collins specifically held Murphy and David Wright out of the first week of Grapefruit League games in an effort to prevent the nagging injuries that sidelined both players in recent springs. It worked for Wright, who is healthy and ready for the trip back north. But not for Murphy, who missed all but three spring games last year with a right intercostal strain.
Still, even if Murphy misses all of next week with his latest injury, his ability to jump into midseason form last year has him confident of doing the same in 2014. Despite limited spring at-bats, Murphy bounced back last summer with the best and most durable season of his career, setting career highs in plate appearances, home runs and stolen bases.
• First baseman Ike Davis celebrated his 27th birthday in style on Saturday, homering against the Marlins and finishing 1-for-3 with a walk. Though Davis missed most of the Grapefruit League season with a pair of sore calves, he is batting .333 with two homers, two walks and four strikeouts in 17 plate appearances. Lucas Duda, Davis' main competition for first base playing time, is batting .300 with two home runs in 12 plate appearances.
• Catcher Travis d'Arnaud snapped an 0-for-21 funk with a second-inning homer off Marlins starter Brad Hand. He credited the hit, which boosted his spring average to .139, to a more focused approach at the plate.
"Earlier this spring, I maybe didn't even have an approach," d'Arnaud said, declining to reveal the specific adjustments that he and hitting coach Dave Hudgens made. "Now I'm just taking it day by day and trusting in the process, trusting in my swing."