Pelfrey appears to have worked out yips

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LOS ANGELES - Mike Pelfrey made it through a yip-free side session before last night's game against the Dodgers and pitching coach Dan Warthen is confident the issue is behind him.

"Unbelievable," Warthen said. "If you wanted a grade on that bullpen, I'd give it an A-plus, and I don't give out easy grades. He had no problems whatsoever."

Between turns in the rotation, starters use the bullpen sessions to go over game situations as well as fine-tune their pitches, so Pelfrey was able to work on his set position from the stretch - the same circumstances that caused the yips on Sunday in San Francisco.

Pelfrey committed three balks that night and two directly led to runs in the Mets' 2-0 loss to the Giants. He became so frustrated after the third that he kicked at the mound and was eventually removed after six innings, despite throwing only 78 pitches.

It was not an isolated incident. Pelfrey later admitted that he was bothered by the self-described yips last season during a start in Florida and also during his college career at Wichita State. Each time, Pelfrey got over them, but Jerry Manuel will be watching him closely Saturday, when Pelfrey opposes Josh Beckett at Fenway Park. "He kind of laughed about it, but it was a struggle for him," Manuel said.

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Cora checked out

Alex Cora was examined yesterday in New York and the recommendation was to wear a split on his right hand for the next 10 days for the torn ligament in his thumb. Cora will be re-evaluated at the end of that period and surgery remains a possibility. He injured the thumb sliding into second base in the first inning of Sunday night's game at San Francisco.

Extra bases

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Gary Sheffield did not play for the second straight game because of an undisclosed illness. Angel Pagan started in leftfield and David Wright batted cleanup . . . Brian Schneider had his first at-bat Wednesday in an extended spring game but there still is no timetable for his return.

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