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K-Rod ahead of schedule, feeling 'strong'

Pitcher Francisco Rodriguez #75 of the New York

Pitcher Francisco Rodriguez #75 of the New York Mets throws against the St. Louis Cardinals at Digital Domain Park. (March 3, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Francisco Rodriguez insists he'll need extra work because of his inactivity during the winter, but he looked fine Sunday with a perfect inning against the Red Sox.

Rodriguez had good command of his slider and curveball, but he laughed when told his fastball was clocked at 94 mph. "Fast gun, fast gun," he said.

After his Florida debut Thursday, K-Rod figured he would need almost double his usual number of appearances to get up to speed. But he seemed to rethink that plan Sunday. "I felt a lot better," he said. "The ball was coming out of my hand quick and I felt strong. Everything was positive."

Said Terry Collins, "He's ahead of where I thought he'd be. When he came in [to camp], he told me he hadn't picked up a ball in three weeks. But I told you guys, closers are different animals. He's going to be fine."

Bay watch

Jason Bay has worked with hitting coach Dave Hudgens to correct some of his issues from last season, and the two appear to be having some success with shortening his swing. Bay went 2-for-3 with an RBI, and the hits were almost identical ground balls up the middle.

"We cut out the fluff," said Bay, adding that this swing is similar to the one he had worked on before suffering his season-ending concussion. Added Collins, "I think once he gets a better feel for it, you're going to see the power that we know he has. But I'll take some of those base hits up the middle, too."

Extra bases

Ike Davis hit his first home run of spring training and Lucas Duda also homered in a 6-5 win over Boston . . . Jon Niese allowed four hits and two runs in 3 2/3 innings.

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