Tommy Hunter wins spot in Mets' bullpen
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Mets officials told Tommy Hunter on Saturday that he has won a spot in the bullpen, ensuring that he’ll stay with the club on the day he could have exercised an opt-out clause in his minor-league contract.
Hunter, 36, entered spring training as the most experienced of a dozen or more candidates for probably three relief spots. They brought him back on a minors deal in December after he posted a 2.42 ERA in 18 games last season. In six Grapefruit League games, he tossed eight scoreless innings, striking out nine and walking one.
“It’s been a pretty good spring,” he said. “A lot of moving parts for me personally, a lot of in and out, but they have been very much on my side for everything happening. It’s been pretty good. I’ve been able to do everything I’ve wanted to do.”
Hunter joins David Robertson, Adam Ottavino, Brooks Raley and Drew Smith in the expected eight-man relief group. Although the Mets have not made any announcements, John Curtiss and Stephen Nogosek also appear to be strong candidates to make the team based on their track records, spring training performances and other roster considerations.
That would leave one position open. Dennis Santana, Jeff Brigham and Elieser Hernandez are among those healthy and still in camp.
The Mets announced that they have signed righthander Dylan Bundy to a minor-league contract. He had been a free agent since November, so after a delayed spring training, he’ll be penciled in as rotation depth with Triple-A Syracuse.
Bundy, 30, had a 4.89 ERA in 29 starts with the Twins last year. He has a 4.74 ERA in parts of eight major-league seasons.
“Everybody knows the velocity is down,” said Bundy, whose fastball averaged 89 mph in 2022. “So I gotta throw off-speed pitches behind in the counts to get back into counts and stuff like that. Controlling the strike zone is important for me.”
A premier prospect a decade ago, Bundy comes with ties to several Mets decision-makers. Buck Showalter’s Orioles drafted him fourth overall in 2011 — and brought him to the majors as a 19-year-old in 2012 — and Billy Eppler’s Angels traded for him before the 2020 season. Bundy also knows pitching coach Jeremy Hefner because they live near each other in Oklahoma.
“A lot of people will tell you he was the best high school prospect they ever saw,” Showalter said. “Dylan has really good makeup; professional depth piece that we can use. We’ll see how it shakes out.”
A highlight of the Mets’ workout Saturday: a lighthearted drill in which they practiced receiving, following and understand the bunt/swing/take/hit-and-run signs from the base coaches. The position players split into two groups, picked by captains Starling Marte and Eduardo Escobar.
Pete Alonso missing on a bunt attempt, perhaps purposely, got the biggest laughs. Francisco Lindor’s headfirst slide into third drew the ire of Showalter, who yelled: “Hey! Hey! Really?” Lindor smiled.
Tylor Megill rebounded from a long, wild first inning to last five frames (plus one batter) in the Mets’ 4-4 tie with the Cardinals. He said he was working on a tweaked slider that he is trying to throw harder, in the mid-to-upper 80s . . . David Peterson tossed about 90 pitches in five innings in a minor-league game. He had been scheduled to follow Megill against St. Louis, but the Mets moved him so both could get a full start (instead of having to share nine innings) . . .Raley said he had no problem with his left hamstring in pitching an inning, also in a minors contest. He’ll pitch in an intrasquad scrimmage Monday and appears fine for Opening Day . . . Carlos Carrasco, who skipped a start for what Showalter called right elbow “maintenance,” is “right where he needs to be,” Showalter said, adding of the elbow work, “Think of lubing up a car.” Carrasco is scheduled to start in a minor-league exhibition Tuesday.