JUPITER, Fla. -- Since the Mets announced he would start on Opening Day, lefthander Jon Niese has been flooded by text messages. One of them came from his father, who will be in attendance at Citi Field on April 1, when Niese faces the Padres.
But first, Niese must get himself ready for the season, a process that continued during Friday's night's 4-2 victory over the Marlins. The lefty allowed two runs on four hits in five innings. Though he struck out five, he walked four, with three of them coming in the fourth inning alone.
"He had one rough inning with command stuff," manager Terry Collins said. "He might have been getting a little tired. But he's had a good spring and certainly yesterday, being named Opening Day (starter), sort of got his emotions and adrenaline going."
Niese said he paid the price for nibbling with his offspeed pitches in the fourth -- when the Marlins tagged him for two runs. However, the pitcher came away pleased with his outing.
"Overall, it was pretty good," said Niese, who lowered his spring ERA to 1.53 in 17 2/3 innings.
Most importantly, Niese pushed his pitch count to 92. His final Grapefruit League start should come on Wednesday night against Astros. As is common among pitchers, Niese expects to dial back his pitch count to the 45 to 50 range in his final outing.
Meanwhile, the Mets received scoreless work from five relievers, including LaTroy Hawkins, Pedro Feliciano, Rob Carson, Scott Atchison and Scott Rice.