Adrian Houser worked fast in his Grapefruit League debut, getting five...

Adrian Houser worked fast in his Grapefruit League debut, getting five grounders from six batters on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — For anyone just getting to know righthander Adrian Houser, one of the Mets’ new rotation members, a lesson: His two innings Tuesday against the Marlins showed exactly the kind of pitcher he strives to be.

“Absolutely,” Houser said during the 7-1 exhibition win. “That’s what you’re going to get out of me. Nothing fancy, try to go out there and attack the zone, work ahead and get a lot of ground balls. I’m going to need a lot of defense behind me and a lot of help, so I’ll keep those guys on their toes.”

Manager Carlos Mendoza added: “That’s who he is.”

Houser worked fast in his Grapefruit League debut, getting five grounders from six batters. When one turned into a single, his next became a double play. He also struck out Jazz Chisholm Jr. His day outing ended after 23 pitches.

That represented a successful soft debut with his new team, in front of a pitching coach he has known for more than a decade.

Jeremy Hefner was a Mets minor-leaguer in the offseason after Houser turned pro in 2011. They both lived in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, area, so Houser reached out and they wound up being workout buddies.

After the Mets acquired Houser (and outfielder Tyrone Taylor) via trade with Brewers in December, Hefner routinely attended his bullpen sessions.

 

“As a pitcher, he kind of did what I do,” Houser said. “It’s going to be fun working with him.”

Diaz’s latest step

Edwin Diaz participated in fielding drills for the first time since suffering a knee injury last March, one of the last major hurdles before he can get into a game.

Marte Day

Starling Marte will make his Grapefruit League debut Wednesday against the Cardinals, another step toward proving he can be a full-time, regular, healthy player for the Mets in 2024.

“The early reports from the hitting coaches are how well the ball is coming off his bat, and that’s important,” Mendoza said. “But the way he’s moving around, doing outfield drills and all that, how is he feeling the next day? It’s been encouraging. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Extra bases

Shortstop Jose Iglesias, long considered a defensive whiz, made a pair of diving plays in the first inning. “Special hands,” Mendoza said . . . Two more former Mets standouts were in camp: Darryl Strawberry and Daniel Murphy. Strawberry is serving as a guest instructor for a few days, Murphy was making his first appearance on SNY’s broadcast . . . Jeff McNeil after first-pitch contact/maybe a single off Diaz during a morning live batting practice session on a backfield: “Oh, that’s a knock! Oh baby!”

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