WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Tim Peterson, part of the cadre of relievers competing for two or three spots on the Mets, had an adventure in the Dominican Republic this past fall, and he’s hoping it will help him win a job in the bullpen.
First, the non-pitching. For a Washington state kid born and raised who went to college in Kentucky, spending most of October and November in the Dominican was, well, different.
Peterson, who dabbles in Spanish but is far from fluent, said all of his coaches spoke English, which was fortunate. The crowds, famous for their jubilance and noisemaking, were “crazy,” he said. “Bands going all game long.”
He also couldn’t help but notice the ubiquitous stray dogs. Did he adopt one? “I always want to,” he said. But he didn’t.
On the streets, there were motorcycle taxis that bring you “pretty much anywhere you want to go” for a dollar, he said.
“We saw five people on a motorcycle one time,” he said, still amazed by and aghast at the memory. “Three adults, a kid and a baby.”
Then there was the pitching, the part of his experience abroad that might actually help him win a major-league roster spot. Peterson had a 3.07 ERA in 14 games for Toros del Este, striking out 21 in 14 2⁄3 innings. The righthander focused on throwing his slider more frequently. He used it only 14.1 percent of the time in the majors last year but is more confident in it now.
“In the past, I’ve thrown it, I was comfortable with it, but last year I just didn’t have the greatest feel for it,” said Peterson, who threw a scoreless inning Sunday. “I worked on it a lot [in the Dominican]. I was throwing it quite a bit down there, with success. Looking forward to it this year.”
Notes & quotes: David Thompson, called up from minor-league camp to start at third base Monday, hit a three-run homer in the fifth, one of two Mets hits in a 3-3 tie with the Astros. After being in big league camp last spring, Thompson, 25, missed most of the season because of a fractured left hand and surgery to remove bone chips/spurs from his left elbow. “Last year was a tough year [and] I’ve been a little nervous the last few days, so it felt good to perform a little bit today,” Thompson said . . . Brandon Nimmo will make his Grapefruit League debut as the DH in the split-squad game at home against the Tigers on Tuesday. Todd Frazier is penciled in for his first game Wednesday.