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Steven Matz's fastball tops out at 94 mph in second rehab start

New York Mets pitcher Steven Matz, left, bumps

New York Mets pitcher Steven Matz, left, bumps fists with catcher Colton Plaia after pitching during the second inning of an outing in a Florida State League baseball game against the Palm Beach Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla., Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. Photo Credit: Phelan M. Ebenhack

JUPITER, Fla. -- Pitching mostly to contact, Steven Matz used his 41 pitches Thursday night to get eight outs while allowing one run on four hits.

For his second rehab start for the Class A-Advanced St. Lucie Mets, the Long Island lefthander said, "I was just trying to fill up the strike zone and stretch out the 40-plus pitches as much as I could."

Matz, who is recovering from a partially torn lat muscle in his left side, said that was different from his one-inning outing Saturday, when he was more focused on using all his pitches.

On Saturday, Matz was supported in the lineup by Mets teammates David Wright and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who has since moved up to Triple-A Las Vegas. Wright did not make the 45-minute bus trip from Port St. Lucie, having worked out earlier Thursday after playing all nine innings of Wednesday's home game.

Facing the Palm Beach Cardinals, Matz mixed in five curveballs and five changeups with 31 fastballs that ranged from 91 to 94 mph. He threw 27 of the 41 pitches for strikes.

"I felt more command than I had last outing," Matz said. "It's still not where I want it to be."

Three of the four hits were off fastballs, two of them by Cardinals leadoff hitter C.J. McElroy. The other, off a changeup, was a softly hit liner by Cardinals designated hitter Collin Radack that diving leftfielder Stefan Sabol broke late on and couldn't handle.

"I was just leaving the ball up," Matz said. "I'll keep on plugging and get my work in."

He walked the last batter he faced, Mason Katz, on four pitches.

"Sometimes it just gets away from me," Matz said.

The 24-year-old Stony Brook product said he will confer with Mets rehab coordinator Jon Debus to decide when and where his third rehab start will be. If he stays on a five-day rotation with St. Lucie to start Tuesday, Matz would have to make the three-hour bus ride to Port Charlotte. St. Lucie is idle the following day. To avoid the bus trip, Matz would have to wait until next Thursday, when St. Lucie is at home against Palm Beach.

The Mets could send Matz to Binghamton to start one of the games of the Double-A squad's doubleheader or to New Orleans to pitch that night for Triple-A Las Vegas.

Matz, the Mets' second-round pick in 2009, made a quick impression on the major-league staff with his arm and his bat before his injury.

In his June 28 debut Matz won at home over the Cincinnati Reds, pitching into the eighth inning and going 3-for-3 with four RBIs. A week later, he added an RBI and pitched two-hit ball over six shutout innings in a win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.


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