JUPITER, Fla. -- The Mets plan to give Jonathon Niese the Opening Day start, but Terry Collins is going to need to be convinced the southpaw will be ready for that assignment.
Niese made his 2014 Grapefruit League debut Tuesday, after early camp shoulder woes resulted in him getting dispatched to New York for an MRI.
If Niese cannot use his next three Grapefruit League starts to convince the Mets he can give them a credible performance on Opening Day against the Washington Nationals, Collins indicated he would pivot to Bartolo Colon or Dillon Gee for the March 31 assignment at Citi Field.
"Most likely Colon," Niese said.
Niese allowed four runs on six hits and two walks while requiring 50 pitches to navigate two innings in what became a 9-8 win against the St. Louis Cardinals.
“We won’t know until he goes out there a couple of more times,” Collins said about Niese on Opening Day. “He’s got about three more outings until we’ll make a decision. Like I said, it’s only one game. We’ve got to make sure we get the right guy that can give us the innings we need on Opening Day.”
Collins said he was alarmed early in the bottom of the first inning, when Niese’s pitches had no life.
“I was more pleased with the second inning, for sure,” Collins said. “He said there’s no discomfort, so I’m not worried about it. If there’s no discomfort, I’m not worried. But when the first inning started, after about the third pitch, I was a little worried. I mean, the first pitch was a fastball at 79 mph. And the second pitch was 81 mph. So I was a little concerned about that. He settled down and pitched OK.”