KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Terry Collins said he will be overly cautious using Bobby Parnell for more than two consecutive days early in the season as the closer returns from Sept. 10 surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck.
As a result, Jose Valverde -- anointed the primary set-up man by Collins -- will potentially get save opportunities.
“You’d like your closer to go three or four in a row before you might think about giving him a day off,” Collins said. “[But] we’ve got to make sure how Bobby feels. After two days in a row, I’ll certainly be on top of that.”
As for Valverde’s role, Collins said: “Certainly he’s going to be that guy that’s going to hopefully be that bridge to Bob. And those nights that Bobby is going to need a night off, it’s going to have to be Jose that’s going to pick up the slack.”
The manager said, though, that for Lagares to succeed and run with the starting role, he will have to avoid swinging at pitches out of the strike zone.
“If we see he’s doing it, he’s going to play, because he’s going to be much better offensively,” Collins said.
Collins pointed to Lagares swinging at a third strike up and out of the strike zone Tuesday.
“A ball over his head. Strike three,” Collins said. “He was upset about it, because he knew he was going to get a fastball, and he went to hit it, and the ball was a ball and he swung at it. That’s where we talk about the patience. 'Hey, listen, there’s nothing wrong, if the guy makes a real bastard pitch on you, to strike out. There’s nothing wrong with that. Everybody strikes out. But make them get you out.'”
Black Wednesday: Vic Black, demoted Wednesday, initially was slated to be the primary set-up man.
“As we sat there this winter knowing what was coming into camp, if Bobby Parnell couldn’t post, Vic Black was going to be part of that puzzle,” Collins said.
So what happened?
“This guy came in last September and pitched about as good as anybody on our staff,” Collins said. “I told him this morning he’s got to go get his command. It’s all about that. His velocity was getting better and better, but you’ve got to command the baseball.”
Finale: Cory Mazzoni will start Thursday’s noon Grapefruit League finale, with Bartolo Colon instead pitching in a minor-league game. That will allow Colon to avoid facing the Washington Nationals, his opponent for Game 2 of the regular season next Wednesday.
Montreal-bound: The Mets will bring their remaining campers to Montreal for the pair of exhibition games against the Toronto Blue Jays at Olympic Stadium, including the starting pitchers not scheduled to appear.
The Mets also will bring four extra minor-league arms: T.J. Chism, Adam Kolarek, Cody Satterwhite and Jonathan Velasquez.
Toronto will be the home team in both games and the DH will be used.