PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- With Mets manager Terry Collins and staff concerned over the future of closer Jeurys Familia, New York's bullpen received some positive news early Sunday morning with the arrival of Noel Salas.The right-hander has yet to appear in a Grapefruit League game and has been out
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- With Mets manager Terry Collins and staff concerned over the future of closer Jeurys Familia, New York's bullpen received some positive news early Sunday morning with the arrival of Noel Salas.
The right-hander has yet to appear in a Grapefruit League game and has been out of camp over lingering visa issues in his native Mexico. However, those were resolved in the last few days, allowing Salas, 31, to rejoin the club as the final two weeks of Spring Training begin.
"I'm happy because I'm here," said Salas after shaking hands with teammates in the clubhouse. "I understand the rules and have my visa now."
That's good news for a Mets bullpen that could use some.
No word has come down yet on Familia's possible suspension over a domestic violence incident, but Collins and his staff are prepared for Familia's absence.
Ultimately, with Familia and his 94 saves over the last two seasons missing from the staff's back end, Collins will turn to eighth-inning hurler Addison Reed to close games. Reed posted 101 saves from 2012-14 in stints with the Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Yet Reed has struggled with his command this spring, holding a 10.13 ERA in eight appearances entering play Sunday.
Moving Reed up into Familia's spot means Salas will assume Reed's regular role in the eighth, placing even more importance on getting Salas ready in such a short time.
Collins said recently there are concerns about Salas simply because he has played in so few games - just two, in the World Baseball Classic, and tossing only one inning for Team Mexico.
"He hasn't pitched very much. I have a lot of concerns," Collins said. "I told [pitching coach Dan Warthen] that when he gets in here we're going to certainly have to get him in every other day for a while to get him to pitch."
The Mets shored up their bullpen by acquiring Salas from the Angels for Minor League pitcher Erik Manoah last Aug. 31. Down the stretch with New York, Salas posted a 2.08 ERA, struck out 19 and didn't allow a walk over 17 1/3 innings in 17 relief appearances.
The Mets brought him back by signing him to a one-year, $3 million deal last month.
"I think I need more games, because it's a few games before [I'm ready]," said Salas. "There's maybe 12 or 15 days before the season, so it's a good time to get ready. I've had Spring Training to practice, but now it's just the games to get me ready for the season."
He said he usually pitches in about 10 Spring Training games. After Sunday's contest with the Marlins, the Mets will have 11 games remaining - one being a split-squad day - leaving Salas with 10 chances to pitch in Major League games and multiple opportunities against Minor League competition on the complex's back fields.
"The most important [things] are that I'm healthy and worked all offseason and in Spring Training," he said. "I practiced [in Mexico] and played catch, but now the most important thing is to stay in games."
Bill Whitehead is a contributor to MLB.com.