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Mets ask Black to rise to occasion in bullpen

NEW YORK -- Saturday morning, Mets reliever Vic Black boarded a flight from Las Vegas to New York, where he served as an extra man for the Mets' Sunday doubleheader against the D-backs. As soon as that ended, Black returned to the airport, where he flew to El Paso, Texas, by way of Dallas. He was there for less than a day before the Mets came calling again, asking him to board a flight back to New York by way of Atlanta.

Two trips to Whataburger and a few long naps later, Black landed back in New York presumably for good. Replacing Jose Valverde in the Mets' bullpen, Black will have a chance to enter the Mets' late-game mix after posting a 1.45 ERA over his final 17 outings at Triple-A Las Vegas. If he succeeds, brushing off the control issues that have dogged him since Spring Training, Black won't have to endure more travel chaos anytime soon.

"He's going to have to rise to the occasion," manager Terry Collins said.

Black passed his first test Tuesday, striking out two in 1 1/3 scoreless innings to pick up the win in the Mets' 4-2 victory over the Pirates.

None of this would have been necessary had Black simply seized the bullpen role that the Mets penciled him into at the start of Spring Training. Instead, Black struggled, forcing the team to confine him to Vegas.

So successful down the stretch in 2013, Black now has a fresh chance to succeed.

"I wouldn't say I ever felt sorry for myself," he said. "I struggled. That was the basic thing. I wasn't shocked by the decision. I had to pick myself back up."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo.
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