The Mets roll down I-95 today to Jupiter, where John Maine will face the Marlins. It's the first look at Maine this spring and another chance to evaluate the front office's decision to stand pat this offseason with the starting rotation.

It's important to remember that these early starts are more about working on things than actually getting people out - though the latter doesn't hurt. The Mets said they were pleased with Oliver Perez yesterday because he threw strikes - the primary goal of Sunday's start against the Nats -- but he'll be under the microscope for the next month, to be sure.

And speaking of strikes, Hisanori Takahashi stole the show Sunday, striking out six in three innings. Of his 42 pitches, only eight were balls, and Jerry Manuel was so blown away by the performance that he already talked about taking him north for the April 5 opener. He didn't say what role exactly. Barring injury, he seems slotted for long relief.

In other news, Manuel still remains cagey on the whole starting catcher situation, refusing to give Rod Barajas the job - at least publicly.

Also, two Mets are scheduled for check-ups today -- Jose Reyes gets his thyroid checked in New York and K-Rod will be evaluated for his raging case of pink eye. The Mets said it could take up to 48 hours to know Reyes' results; they expect K-Rod to be cleared to join the team - finally.

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