PORT ST. LUCIE – It was just an inning made up of 17 pitches, but Rick Porcello got a taste of competing in a Mets uniform on Saturday.
Two weak singles, including a broken bat shot by Garrett Cooper, led to a run against the experienced right-hander, who later admitted that he wasn't ready for the Marlins' game – Monte Harrison stole second and third bases against him.
"Today was a good first step in the right direction, and there are some differences between the game of the American League and the game of the National League," said Porcello on a day that the Mets started the Grapefruit League at Clover Park 5: 3 lost to the Marlins.
"I saw it today, the running game, they don't really steal as many bases in the American League and you come out and play the first game with a runner first and he's gone. I'll pay more attention and look for a little change set in play style, but the main focus is on creating that foundation with this delivery and continuing from there. ”
Porcello, who had spent eleven seasons for the Tigers and Red Sox, arrived in December with a one-year contract worth $ 10 million. He's battling for a spot in the Mets rotation this spring after a career-worst season in which he scored an ERA of 5.52 with the Red Sox.
Porcello had hoped pitching coach Jeremy Hefner would allow him to return for a second inning against the Marlins, but said that he wasn't offered this option. In his inning of work, Porcello Harrison allowed a groundball single before defeating Isan Diaz for the second time. But after his two stolen bases, Harrison met Cooper's single with a broken club.
"Today is the best thing you can achieve when you first get out of it in the regular season," said Porcello. “Everyone is looking forward to the first game of spring. I'm looking forward to being back on the hill after a long off-season, so you're working on things on the side, but you don't have the same adrenaline and your body speeds up, your mind speeds up. That's why today, and that's one Part of the reason why I want to play as many games as possible this spring and not in the backfields. "
Wilson Ramos was behind the plate for Porcello and set a low goal for the former AL Cy Young award winner. To achieve this low goal, Ramos kneeled on the floor.
"I know it's just an inning, however [Porcello] threw the ball really well, kept the ball down, it felt good to hit a low target, ”said Ramos. "This is what I've been working on all spring this off-season, so I feel good with this goal, so I have to keep going and try to make these guys happy."
Porcello, Steven Matz and Michael Wacha are likely to fight for two places in the rotation, with the third placed candidate heading for the bullpen. Matz & # 39; s first opportunity this season will be against the Cardinals on Sunday.
The new manager Luis Rojas gave Porcello a thumbs up on his first Mets excursion.
"It was a good inning for him to throw the ball where he wanted," said Rojas. "I thought he hit his spots and it looked smooth."
And the early chemistry between Porcello and Ramos was a plus, according to Rojas.
"I like Ramos kneeling down to get Porcellos Fastball," said Rojas. "Porcello's fastball action, the two-seater Ramos, was really good at receiving her in the zone. There were a few early strikes that hit the points, and Ramos kept them clean."