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Collins: Feliciano decision not just about velocity

Terry Collins sits in the dugout before a

Terry Collins sits in the dugout before a game against the Miami Marlins at Tradition Field. (March 2, 2013) Credit: Getty

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Mets beat the Braves 7-4 in Grapefruit League action on Monday afternoon. Righthander Dillon Gee tossed six shutout innings and the Mets got homers from Collin Cowgill and a pair of recent cuts -- Andrew Brown and Jamie Hoffmann.

Manager Terry Collins touched on a few topics in his postgame briefing with reporters:

-- Collins offered a reminder that few official decisions have been made regarding the bullpen. "We haven't put anybody on the roster yet," he said. However, the team has actually made a few calls.

A source confirmed that the Mets informed 40-year-old righthander LaTroy Hawkins that he's earned a spot on the roster for Opening Day. Earlier on Monday, the team also informed Pedro Feliciano that they want him to spend a month in the minors building strength in his shoulder.

The team's primary concern, according to Collins, isn't Feliciano's low 80s fastball velocity but his ability to work in consecutive games. Considering the nature of the lefty specialist role, durability is key.

Said Collins: "If he's going to make a difference, which he has in his career, you've got to know you can bring him [in] back to back days and he's still going to be sharp."

Shoulder issues were to be expected since Feliciano is coming off major shoulder surgery. But Collins believes Feliciano could make an impact with the Mets so long as he can maintain his effectiveness on consecutive nights.

"You make pitches, there's a lot of velocities that play,"  Collins said. "He's got good sink. He throws the ball with good sink. His changeup's good. He's got to locate his fastball obviously. But the issue is how many times can you use him before you have to suspect how much he can give you?"

With the Mets expected to take two lefties, Josh Edgin and Robert Carson appear to be in line for bullpen spots. However, Carson is taking nothing for granted until he knows for sure.

"It's real hard," said Carson, who allowed two solo homers in one-third of an inning on Monday. "I try not to focus on that part. But I have family and friends that kind of keep up with baseball."

The Mets appear to have just one spot for a righthander, a battle that is shaping up to be between Jeurys Familia and submariner Greg Burke, who allowed two runs on three hits in one inning against the Braves. His ERA rose to 5.84.

-- Shortstop Ruben Tejada finished 0-for-2 with a walk, lowering his spring average to .085. But Collins is backing the projected starter at short.
"You've got to be careful of March and you've got to be careful in September," Collins said. "Ruben Tejada has done it under the bright lights two years in a row. And his swings better and he's starting to make better contact. He looks better at home plate. I talked to him today at length about some things. Again, under the gun, he's done it. And he's going to get another chance at it."

-- Dillon Gee attributed his sudden improvement to a change of mindset. After allowing 11 runs in his prior two starts, Gee threw six shutout innings against the Braves. It's a good sign for the righthander, who should have a spot in the starting rotation.

"Today, I didn't want to overthink anything," Gee said. "It was be aggressive, throw everything you have for strikes. Like I said, just try to simplify things. Don't worry about 'is he going to hit this?'"

Gee was scheduled to throw 95 but needed only 65 -- even after racking up seven strikeouts. He threw 30 pitches in the bullpen after he was pulled from the game. Gee is in line to start on Saturday against the Orioles in the Mets' final spring game. He's scheduled to throw around 50 pitches.

-- Second baseman Daniel Murphy played seven innings at second base and went 0-for-5 at the plate in a Triple-A game against the Marlins, the club announced. It was Murphy's second straight appearance in a minor league game. He has missed almost all of spring with a strained right intercostal muscle.

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