ATLANTA - Forearm tightness prompted the Mets to delay the season debut of top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard, who is scheduled to start Monday for Triple-A Las Vegas.

Manager Terry Collins played down the severity of the issue, which cropped up near the end of spring training.

The Mets responded with a conservative approach. Bumping back Syndergaard's debut to the fifth game of the season bought him a few extra days to recover. He will be limited to about 60 pitches.

Syndergaard, 22, went 9-7 with a 4.60 ERA for Triple-A Las Vegas last season.

Flores has good day at plate

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Wilmer Flores showed signs of emerging from a slump in Sunday's 4-3 win over the Braves. He went 1-for-3 with a double, his first extra-base hit of the season.

Flores' shaky defense already has been scrutinized, but the Mets are banking on his bat to make up for his glove. In recent days, hitting coach Kevin Long has been working with Flores to improve his plate discipline.

"I'm swinging at strikes," said Flores, who is hitting .158. "That's what it's all about."

Extra bases

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Daniel Murphy did not start because Collins wants to shield the second baseman from fatigue. A strained hamstring sidelined Murphy for much of spring training . . . In his first start against a lefty this season, Lucas Duda collected three hits. He had a pair of singles off starter Alex Wood and added another hit off Andrew McKirahan. Duda hit .180 against lefties a season ago . . . Juan Lagares went 0-for-5 in his first start in the leadoff spot . . . Relievers Vic Black and Bobby Parnell are on the verge of starting rehab assignments.