VIERA, Fla. - Newly acquired lefthander Jerry Blevins offered the Mets what they hope could be a sneak preview of his season. In Tuesday's 2-0 win over the Nationals, Blevins needed only three pitches to strike out lefthanded slugger Bryce Harper.
"It is a little bit different being his teammate yesterday,'' said Blevins, who was acquired Monday in a trade that sent outfielder Matt den Dekker to Washington. "But baseball is baseball. Competition, when you're on the field, it's 'ready to go.' ''
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Blevins faced only Harper before being pulled by Terry Collins, who plans to use him as a matchup specialist. Despite a 4.87 ERA in 64 appearances last season -- a reflection of his struggles against righties -- Blevins held lefthanders to a .160 average.
It didn't take him long to sound like his new teammates.
"We have a chance to shock some people in the East,'' Blevins said. "We've got such a high talent [level]. I'd put this rotation against anybody's, and this experience. I feel like we can do some damage and shock some people.''
Lefthander Jonathon Niese scattered three hits in six shutout innings against the Nationals. He struck out three and walked none.
Collins said Niese will start the fifth game of the season to help split up righthanders. Bartolo Colon is scheduled to start Monday on Opening Day against the Nationals, with Dillon Gee or Rafael Montero starting the fourth game of the season against the Braves.
Daniel Murphy went 1-for-3 and ran the bases in a minor- league game. The second baseman is battling back from a hamstring injury in hopes of being ready for the opener . . . Travis d'Arnaud went 2-for-3 to raise his average to .239. Collins downplayed any concerns. "Just as I'm not getting caught up in the guys hitting .450,'' he said.