Just a few notes before we get started here at Roger Dean Stadium:

-- Francisco Rodriguez is fine, despite the fact that he surprised a couple of Mets officials with his early arrival this morning. Kme.-Rod had received full clearance to be around his teammates again and he should be up to speed again quickly. Rodriguez is scheduled to throw a bullpen session tomorrow, pitch a live batting practice on Thursday and then get in a Grapefruit game this weekend.  

-- John Lackey, the one that got away, will start Thursday when the Red Sox visit Tradition Field. It's highly unusual for a pitcher of his stature to sign on for the 2 1/2-bus trip across the state from Ft. Myers, so I'm thinking Lackey must have asked for the assignment for whatever reason. Normally, a club's top starters will pitch a simulated game at home rather than opt for a lengthy trip.

-- The Mets already figured Kelvim Escobar for the DL when this season opens, but Omar Minaya said today that he will not be sent back to New York for more tests despite a setback with his shoulder this past week. Escobar had progressed to actually playing catch, but now that's prohibited and he's been reduced to working on strengthening his shoulder. "We're going to slow everything down," Minaya said.

-- Jenrry Mejia, who has been compared to Mariano Rivera and Doc Gooden in the past week, takes the mound later today. While Jerry Manuel has been campaigning for him open the regular season in his bullpen, Minaya was preaching patience before today's game. "The plan coming into spring training was for him to go to Double-A and start," Minaya said. "That's still the plan, but we can review it at the end of spring training."

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