PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Jerry Manuel floated an interesting trial balloon Monday afternoon, saying he was considering lefthanded specialist Pedro Feliciano for the Mets' main setup job.
That made Feliciano happy. After leading the major leagues in appearances two years in a row - often pitching to a lefty or two and then departing - he would like a more meaty role.
"I want that job," Feliciano said after pitching a scoreless eighth inning in the Mets' 7-6 win over the Marlins. "I want to get the eighth inning. I'm working hard. Hopefully, I'll be healthy the whole year to do whatever Jerry wants me to do. If they want me to do the eighth, I'll be there."
Feliciano held lefthanded batters to a .215 average with a .594 OPS in 2009; righties hit him at a .264 clip with an .851 OPS. (FYI: Albert Pujols had a 1.101 OPS. Emilio Bonafacio was .611. Just for comparison's sake.)
For Feliciano to nail down the setup role, he will have to be able to handle righthanded batters better. He has been working on his cutter to accomplish that.
Manuel said the Feliciano move could open a spot for lefty specialist Raul Valdes. He also said he wouldn't consider Jenrry Mejia, 20, as his eighth-inning guy at the start of the season, preferring to give him a less strenuous role if he makes the club.
Mejia pitched an inning and allowed an unearned run after Fernando Martinez misplayed a ball in right for a two-base error. The Mets made four errors.
Manuel praised Jonathon Niese after the projected No. 5 starter allowed four runs (three earned) in 42/3 innings. "I really have been pleased with the way he's throwing the ball," Manuel said . . . The Mets' other game, against the Nationals in Viera, was rained out. Oliver Perez will pitch against the Cardinals Tuesday. Johan Santana will face St. Louis' Triple-A team.