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Veteran Kyle Farnsworth hopes to replace LaTroy Hawkins in Mets' pen

Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth throws against

Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth throws against the Chicago Cubs in the eighth inning of a game Sept. 15, 2013 in Pittsburgh. Credit: AP

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Kyle Farnsworth could really bring the heat in his younger days.

Like Mets closer Bobby Parnell, Farnsworth, now 37, is a member of the 100-mph club. But in Farnsworth's case, it's actually "was,'' not "is.''

"I wish I could still do that," said Farnsworth, sitting in the dugout at Tradition Field Saturday. "Over the years, I've learned that you can get away with more mistakes by throwing that hard. But I'm more of a pitcher now than I was back in my 20s. Hitters will make adjustments. Over the years, you're going to lose velocity, so you learn to adjust."

When it comes to experience, Farnsworth has 858 major-league games of it. With the retirement of Mariano Rivera, only LaTroy Hawkins, a pitcher Farnsworth is hoping to replace in the Mets' bullpen, has more appearances among active major-league hurlers.

Hawkins, who signed with the Colorado Rockies, pitched in 72 games for the Mets last season, giving him 943 for his career. Farnsworth, who last started a game when Bill Clinton was president, was 3-1 with a 4.70 ERA in 39 games for the Tampa Bay Rays and nine down the stretch for the postseason-bound Pittsburgh Pirates.

"Last year was up and down, definitely," said Farnsworth, who is in camp on a minor-league contract. "It was a lot of fun pitching for Pittsburgh, which hadn't experienced that in 20, 25 years."

Although Farnsworth says he has not discussed his role with manager Terry Collins, the Mets hope he and Jose Valverde can help ease the burden on Parnell, who saved 22 games and posted a 2.16 ERA last season but required September surgery for a herniated disc in his neck.

Farnsworth is accustomed to the pressure of pitching in New York, having signed a three-year, $17-million deal with the Yankees after the 2005 season. Included in his 15 postseason appearances are three scoreless ALDS innings for the Yankees in 2006 and 2007.

"I have experience with the press and the atmosphere, so that part's not going to be new to me," said the 6-4, 230-pound righthander, who averaged 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings with the Cubs in 2001 but 6.6 per nine in 2013.

Farnsworth's best season was 2011, when he was 5-1 with a 2.18 ERA for the Rays and had 25 of his 54 career saves. Entering 2014, he had a 43-63 record and 4.26 ERA for his seven previous teams and had better success in the AL (20-23, 3.83 ERA) than the NL (23-40, 4.60).

"This is a good, young club," he said of the 2014 Mets. "I'm just glad to get the opportunity [to] help these guys out the best way I can."


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