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Mets nab another arm, sign Griffin to deal

Veteran righty inked to Minor League pact to provide more rotation depth
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Mets continued adding to their pitching depth on Monday, signing right-hander A.J. Griffin to a Minor League deal. A veteran of four seasons with the A's and Rangers, Griffin posted a 5.94 ERA in Texas last season. He will report to Major League camp in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

The move is part of a wider effort to avoid the types of aggressive Minor League promotions a lack of pitching depth forced the Mets to make last year. Earlier this month, New York signed left-hander Jason Vargas to a two-year deal to shore up its rotation. Griffin gives the team additional depth -- likely at the Triple-A level alongside prospects Chris Flexen, Corey Oswalt and Marcos Molina.

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Mets continued adding to their pitching depth on Monday, signing right-hander A.J. Griffin to a Minor League deal. A veteran of four seasons with the A's and Rangers, Griffin posted a 5.94 ERA in Texas last season. He will report to Major League camp in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

The move is part of a wider effort to avoid the types of aggressive Minor League promotions a lack of pitching depth forced the Mets to make last year. Earlier this month, New York signed left-hander Jason Vargas to a two-year deal to shore up its rotation. Griffin gives the team additional depth -- likely at the Triple-A level alongside prospects Chris Flexen, Corey Oswalt and Marcos Molina.

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Griffin's only full Major League season came in 2013, when he went 14-10 with a 3.83 ERA, leading the American League in home runs allowed. Griffin subsequently underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the next two seasons, returning to go 13-10 with a 5.41 ERA from 2016-17 with the Rangers.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Injury update

An MRI on first baseman Dominic Smith's strained right quad came back "OK," according to Mets manager Mickey Callaway. Smith is day to day, and should not miss significant time as he looks to compete for an Opening Day job.

The Mets plan to provide an update Tuesday on Tim Tebow, who sprained his left ankle last week tripping over a sprinkler head.

Camp battles

Monday wasn't a good day for a group of bullpen hopefuls including Hansel Robles (one inning, four earned runs), Jamie Callahan (two innings, one earned run) and Drew Smith (one inning, two earned runs). Only Jacob Rhame shined, striking out two over a shutout inning.

Despite Robles' struggles, he has an advantage over the others due to his history as an effective Major League reliever -- not to mention his $900,000 salary.

"You have to have confidence in your fastball," Callaway said when asked about Robles, who allowed four hits and walked a batter. "Spring Training is the time to get your fastball going."

Powering up

Infielder Gavin Cecchini, who packed on 15 pounds of muscle this winter while working with a nutritionist, saw some early dividends Monday when he cracked a two-run homer off Mike Hauschild. Cecchini, who is likely to start the season at Triple-A Las Vegas, also showed off an improved throwing arm at second base.

Video: NYM@HOU: Cecchini hits a go-ahead homer to left field

"I got in some bad habits with that … throwing straight over the top," Cecchini said. "This offseason, I got back to my old arm angles. I got back and I'm more confident now than I've ever been."

Up next

The Mets' rollout of top pitchers will continue Tuesday, when Steven Matz makes his Grapefruit League debut in a 1:10 p.m. ET game against the Astros at First Data Field, live on MLB.TV. Matt Harvey will start the following afternoon at Disney World, followed by Zack Wheeler in the same game. Vargas will then start at home Thursday against the Marlins.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, A.J. Griffin