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Mets mull extra relief pitcher spot to begin season

New York Mets Manager Terry Collins holds a

New York Mets Manager Terry Collins holds a baseball bat during a spring training workout on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, in Port St. Lucie, FL. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Mets are debating the merits of carrying an extra relief pitcher to begin the season, sources said Saturday, an added wrinkle that could change the dynamics in the final scramble for the last spots on the Opening Day roster.

Should the Mets carry an extra bullpen arm for added protection early in the season, it would likely come at the cost of the bench spot that appears ticketed for utilityman Ty Kelly, who is not on the 40-man roster.

An extra bullpen spot would make it easier for the Mets to carry Josh Edgin. The lefty has worked on pitching with diminished velocity following Tommy John surgery. He would be exposed to waivers and almost certainly claimed by another team if he does not make the team, one reason he’s being considered.

If Edgin were to make the roster, the battle for the final spot would come down to righthanders Paul Sewald and Rafael Montero. In a 3-0 victory against the Braves on Saturday, both pitchers improved their chances.

Sewald tossed a scoreless inning to lower his ERA to 1.46. He’d have to be added to the 40-man roster to make the team.

Meanwhile, Montero has done the most to re-establish his standing in the organization. After a disappointing season, Montero has a 1.96 ERA after five scoreless innings against the Braves.

“I’ve seen a different approach, I’ve seen a whole different guy, again the way he’s going about things,” manager Terry Collins said. “His velocity is up. He’s pitching inside, which he didn’t do very often. And I think that makes a big difference.”

Most importantly, he challenged a lineup composed of big-league hitters, breaking free from a tendency to nibble around the zone.

“It’s good to just build up confidence again,” Montero said through a translator. “My sinker was working a lot today. I put the ball in the middle. And you’re going to get a lot of balls hit on the ground.”

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