PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Jon Niese gained a measure of reassurance Thursday when he tossed 41/3 scoreless innings in a minor-league game against the Cardinals.
"That's the only way you can test it is to cut loose and hope for no pain," said Niese, who will begin the season on the disabled list. "Today there was zero."
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The lefthander threw 57 pitches in his first action since inflammation flared up in his left elbow on March 16. He's expected to throw 75 pitches in a minor-league game on Tuesday, which would put him on track to start for the Mets when they host the Reds on April 6.
Pitching coach Dan Warthen said Niese's fastball was "pretty much where we wanted to be," topping out at 91 mph with one more start to go.
"Today was a huge step," Niese said. "It felt amazing."
Members of Gary Carter's family will be on hand Friday night when the late Hall of Famer is honored in a ceremony before the Mets face the Blue Jays in the first of two exhibition games at Olympic Stadium in Montreal.
Carter, who lost his battle with cancer in February 2012, starred for the Expos and Mets during his career. His widow, Sandy, will throw out the first pitch.
Former Met Pedro Martinez will be among several former Expos players expected to attend Saturday's game. The 1994 team will be honored for finishing with baseball's best record at the time of the strike.
The Blue Jays will be the home team and the designated hitter will be in use, allowing the Mets to get at-bats for both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, who still are competing for the starting job at first base . . . Minor-league righthander Cory Mazzoni left Thursday's 4-0 loss to the Washington Nationals with right triceps soreness . . . In his final tuneup, Bartolo Colon allowed three runs (two earned) in a four-inning minor-league start against the Cardinals.