Niese closer to games with Mets

JON SANTUCCI Associated Press Published:

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -- Three big pieces of the New York Mets' pitching staff are closer to appearing in spring training games.

Starters Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon and closer Bobby Parnell pitched batting practice with fielders Thursday. Niese (shoulder) and Colon (calf) have been slowed by minor injuries, and Parnell is coming back from surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck.

"I felt great," said Niese, a Defiance High School graduate. "It's a great feeling to go out there and not feel any pain in the shoulder. It was a great, great step forward to go out on the mound and feel very close to 100 percent. "I felt good all week, but first time off a mound in a game situation, there's always that concern. But I'm glad that thought is out of my head now."

David Wright, David Murphy, Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada took turns at bat. Colon pitched three innings, Niese threw two and Parnell threw one.

Niese allowing four straight hits in his first inning, but was much better in the second. Colon was strong early, but allowed a home run to Wright in the third.

"I didn't accomplish what I wanted to accomplish, but I felt good. I just wanted to locate today and work on my pitches," Niese said. "I feel fine, and I'm working hard to make sure I'm ready. I think I should be ready to start on Monday."

Parnell faced batters Saturday for the first time since the surgery.

"Still way early in spring. Plenty of time to get it going," Parnell said of his velocity. "Obviously by the last week, my arm will be stronger, routine will be better. I think as that comes, the speed gets there. I've said it 100 times, I really don't worry about velocity. I felt strong. The ball was moving well. I got some early swings."

NOTES: Wright is to make his exhibition game debut today against St. Louis. He missed the majority of the past two spring trainings because of injuries. "Spring training is so long, it's really for the pitchers' benefit to get them stretched out," Wright said.

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