Last game – Mets 6, Cardinals 1: With only a precious few at-bats left before the Mets break camp and head north, the team didn’t seem to waste many on Thursday.
Anderson Hernandez, Paul Lo Duca and Xavier Nady each stroked three hits, with Lo Duca driving in three runs and Nady batting out of a 1-for-28 slump. Nady said that a pre-game pep talk from Willie Randolph seemed to help, as his level of anxiousness had risen over the dry spell.
Nady still appears to be the front-runner to start in right field on Monday afternoon at Shea Stadium, though challenger Victor Diaz may have closed the gap some. The Mets are still undecided as to whether Diaz will start the year in New York or at Triple-A Norfolk.
The Mets did their early damage against Sidney Ponson, touching the former Oriole for four runs (three earned) and seven hits over four innings, then rudely welcomed former teammate Braden Looper back to Tradition Field.
Looper, who signed with the Cardinals as a free agent after the Mets showed little interest in bringing him back, failed to make it out of the fifth inning and was lifted with two outs. The Mets tagged Looper for two runs and three hits, with two walks and a strikeout.
Jose Lima allowed a run on four hits over two innings as his chances of making the team fade. If sent to Triple-A Norfolk, Lima said he would not report, effectively ending his time with the Mets.
Who’s ‘left’?: The competition to make the Opening Day roster as the Mets’ situational left-hander continued Thursday, with Darren Oliver taking the start against the Redbirds and hurling two scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 1.46.
Pedro Feliciano, who has a 4.05 ERA in six spring appearances, is considered to be Oliver’s main challenger.
Former Met news: While Looper received much the same reception at Tradition Field that he did over his two years at Shea Stadium – boos – another former Met was involved in the news cycle miles away.
Anna Benson has filed for divorce from husband Kris, claiming their marriage was “irretrievably broken.” Many speculate that Anna Benson had a lot to do with prompting the Mets’ deal with the Baltimore Orioles for pitchers Jorge Julio and John Maine last winter.
For the record, the Mets always maintained that it was a baseball trade and not related to Anna Benson’s outspoken nature or questionable wardrobe choices, such as during the Mets’ holiday party when she showed up at Shea Stadium for a role as Mrs. Claus wearing a low-cut red satin dress.
In any event, Anna Benson’s behavior and high profile didn’t help cement Kris Benson’s situation in the starting rotation.
Minor moves: The Mets released pitchers Jeremy Hill, Matt Perisho, Kole Strayhorn and Mike Venafro on Thursday. Additionally, reliever Mitch Wylie – who was released earlier in the week – signed with the Mets and will report to Triple-A Norfolk.
Coming up: Pedro Martinez makes his second start of the spring on Friday, facing the St. Louis Cardinals at 1:10 p.m. ET at Tradition Field. Mark Mulder gets the call for the Cards, who are playing the second of three consecutive games against New York.