Mets' pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training
Players bundle up for workouts in chilly temperatures at Port St. Lucie facility
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Jon Niese let out an audible "brrrr" as he plopped down on a dugout bench Thursday, covered head to toe with the warmest clothing he could find. Vice president of media relations Jay Horwitz burst into a room at the team's sprawling Spring Training complex wearing a fluorescent blue-and-orange hoodie. Outside, amid temperatures in the 40s and a stiff breeze, pitchers participated in workouts ranging from casual to severe.
It may not have felt much like spring, but Mets camp had officially opened for business.
Pitchers and catchers were required to report to Port St. Lucie by the end of Thursday, though many of them had already been in town working out for weeks. Those who hadn't simply needed to confirm their presence by the end of the day, in advance of physical examinations Friday and the first official workout Saturday.
"It's the coldest day it's been," relief pitcher Josh Edgin said, laughing. "There's a bunch of guys who have been down here, so it's an extra month with them. It doesn't feel like the first day, but it kind of does. You're getting ready to get into it and get into the season."
For the Mets, Thursday's deadline was essentially a formality; most big league pitchers had reported days, weeks or even months in advance, including starters Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, relievers Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia and Bobby Parnell, and catcher Travis d'Arnaud.
"I'm kind of used to it down here," said Niese, who bought a home in the area late last year. "But when you get into the clubhouse and [the media] comes around here, it's time."
The remainder of the roster is not required to report until Tuesday, though many prominent position players -- David Wright and Lucas Duda among them -- arrived at the complex weeks ago. Full-squad workouts will begin on Feb. 26, with the Mets' first Grapefruit League game scheduled for March 4 in Orlando vs. the Braves, and Opening Day set for April 6 in Washington.
Along the way, the Mets will play 31 spring games, plus another two exhibitions in Arlington, Texas.
Though their roster is relatively static heading into Spring Training, several jobs do remain up for grabs. Most notably, the Mets have six starting pitchers vying for five spots, with Dillon Gee the leading candidate to head to the bullpen. That competition should have an effect on the bullpen, which appears to have two open jobs.
Yet despite the relatively snug state of the roster, Mets players came to camp prepared to compete.
"I don't really listen to news or read news, so I didn't actually know everything was set," reliever Carlos Torres said. "Coming to Spring Training every year, everyone just goes through the same thing. Everyone works hard and tries to get better."