LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Nasty lefthander Steven Matz setting up for fireballing closer Noah Syndergaard? Keep dreaming.

Sure, moving the highly touted pitching prospects into the bullpen would give them big-league experience without adding to an already crowded starting rotation. But according to sources, the Mets want Matz and Syndergaard to keep racking up starters' innings and gaining more experience in the minors before they're called up to the big leagues, perhaps later this season.

Both are expected to begin the year at Triple-A Las Vegas.

The issue of how to bring along Matz, 23, and Syndergaard, 22, proved particularly relevant Tuesday.

Lefthander Josh Edgin was scheduled to undergo an MRI because of elbow discomfort.

"Everyone has concern about any type of discomfort," said Edgin, who raised red flags when his fastball was clocked at just 87-90 mph during Monday's Grapefruit League loss to the Marlins.

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But if a bullpen need arises, a source said not to expect Matz to get involved in the competition, even though the Mets may be thin in lefthanded relief.

Edgin remains the lone lefty who appears to have a spot out of camp, with the likes of Scott Rice, Dario Alvarez, and Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin competing as possible second lefthanded options.

"We'll have to see which of those step up," manager Terry Collins said.

This winter, the Mets ranked lefthander Zach Duke near the top of their free-agent wish list. That was until the White Sox aggressively signed him to a three-year, $15-million deal that was out of the club's price range.

Meanwhile, the Mets weren't enamored with most of the remaining options, a pool that included veterans Craig Breslow and former Yankee Phil Coke.

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With no definitive word on Edgin's status, pitching coach Dan Warthen said it was too soon to make any determinations regarding roles.

But speaking generally, the pitching coach said he sees a benefit for young pitchers gaining big-league experience as relievers first, a tactic used for years by franchises such as the Cardinals.

"I think it's a great way to bring them up instead of just throwing them into the fire," Warthen said. "I think that's been a very good modus operandi in baseball for years and years."

 

Extra bases

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Bartolo Colon allowed three runs and five hits in three innings in Tuesday's 3-2 Grapefruit League loss to the Braves. But the veteran isn't fretting over the results, which included a three-run homer to notorious Mets killer Freddie Freeman. "Overall, I feel pretty good," Colon said through a translator . . . Shortstop prospect Matt Reynolds added a pinch hit, raising his spring training average to .500. Collins did not rule out Reynolds making the team out of camp, though it's likely he starts the year in the minors, where he would get more playing time.