KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Mets took a flyer chance on Jim Henderson, signing the former Brewers closer despite his struggles following his second shoulder surgery.
The gamble began paying off in a 2-0 victory over the Royals on Tuesday, when Henderson tossed a perfect seventh inning in his first big league appearance since 2014.
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“I just felt under control in the bullpen the whole time and I just took that out to the game,” said Henderson, whose fastball sat at 97 mph.
It was almost as if Henderson, 33, hadn’t missed much of the last two seasons with shoulder surgery that nearly derailed his career.
The Mets added Henderson to the roster even though his spring training velocity hovered closer to the low 90s. But just as he had hoped, Henderson’s fastball played up, perhaps with an assist from the rush of an actual game and a few off days.
“I kind of figured once the season got going, that adrenaline, you can’t do that in spring training,” Henderson said. “You don’t have 40,000 people there. To be honest, it was kind of effortless.”
Just as he did last spring, Jeurys Familia put to rest any concerns about his fastball, which registered at 97 mph as he closed out the Royals.
“I throw hard when I want to throw hard,” said Familia, who held back in spring training.
David Wright stole two bases in a game for the first time since 2013. He equaled his regular season total from a year ago.
“It was good to just kind of play reactionary,” said Wright, who is playing his first full season since being diagnosed with spinal stenosis. “That’s the goal, to go out there and just play the way that I’ve always played.”
Jacob deGrom is still in line to start the home opener on Friday night. But if the birth of his child forces him to miss the assignment, Bartolo Colon, Steven Matz or Matt Harvey could take over . . . The Mets signed catcher Rene Rivera to a minor league deal. He was assigned to Triple-A Las Vegas.