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Collmenter, Montero seize opportunity for role

Josh Collmenter solidified his role in the Atlanta bullpen, as he gave up one run and struck out 5 over 5 innings. (AP)
March 29, 2017

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Josh Collmenter prepared to serve as the Braves' long reliever and Rafael Montero provided another glimpse of why he could be an asset in the Mets' bullpen this year. But it was an ugly ninth inning that enabled New York to gain a 2-2 tie

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Josh Collmenter prepared to serve as the Braves' long reliever and Rafael Montero provided another glimpse of why he could be an asset in the Mets' bullpen this year. But it was an ugly ninth inning that enabled New York to gain a 2-2 tie against Atlanta on Wednesday at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex.
Chad Sobotka issued three ninth-inning walks, including one to Tim Tebow, before being replaced by Caleb Dirks, who uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Kevin Kaczmarski to race home with the game-tying run.
Blake Lalli's solo homer off Mets reliever Beck Wheeler was hit after the Braves lifted their starters from what was their final game of the Florida portion of their exhibition schedule. Atlanta's third baseman Adonis Garcia recorded a pair of hits, including an RBI single against Sean Gilmartin in the second inning. 
Awards within reach for Braves stars in 2017
After Gilmartin surrendered a run and three hits over two innings, Montero recorded two strikeouts over two scoreless innings. The Mets' reliever produced a 1.77 ERA and recorded 23 strikeouts over 20 ⅓ Grapefruit League innings.
"He's thrown the ball very well," Collins said. "He's using the plate and throwing the ball over the plate, and his stuff's playing."
When the Mets and Braves next meet again on Monday at Citi Field, their Opening Day starters will be Noah Syndergaard and Julio Teheran, who both made their final preparations in Minor League games on Wednesday.
Matz won't be ready to start season 
With Teheran pitching on one of the back fields, Collmenter limited the Mets to one run and four hits over five innings. Braves manager Brian Snitker wanted the veteran reliever to get stretched out in case he needs to serve as a starter during the early portion of the regular season.
"If you get them out of here stretched out, that kind of plays for three weeks or a month," Snitker said. "You really have your sixth starter right there on your staff and really not have to go to the Minor Leagues. It's a nice commodity to have."
Lagares improving, could be ready for opener
Mets Up Next: The Mets' Grapefruit League season may be over, but their time in Florida has not yet drawn to a close. The team will play an exhibition Thursday against its Triple-A Las Vegas affiliate, with Jacob deGrom starting at First Data Field. Following the exhibition, the Mets will fly back to New York for a Friday game against Army at Citi Field.
Braves Up Next: The Braves will work out at SunTrust Park on Thursday and then get a better feel for their new stadium when they host the Yankees in Atlanta on Friday at 7:35 p.m. ET on MLB.TV. Bartolo Colon will get the start, but R.A. Dickey and many of the relievers will make an appearance in the exhibition season finale. .
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com.