Mets trim lefty competition, send Scott Rice to minors

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The New York Mets sent Scott Rice to minor league camp after Saturday's 10-2 win against the Washington Nationals, reducing the lefty relief candidates in camp to Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin and Dario Alvarez.

The Mets have been in desperate need of lefty relief help since Josh Edgin underwent Tommy John surgery last week. Team personnel are actively scouting the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers, and got a firsthand look at potentially available Nats southpaw Jerry Blevins on Saturday at Tradition Field.

Rice, 33, had a 9.64 ERA in seven Grapefruit League relief appearances.

He re-signed with the Mets on a minor league deal in December. He had been outrighted off the 40-man roster and became a free agent early in the offseason.

Rice underwent season-ending elbow surgery last July 23 to remove a bone spur and move a nerve.

In 2013, he had a storybook season. He debuted in the majors at 31 years, 192 days old -- becoming the second-oldest U.S.-born player ever to debut with the Mets, trailing only Shawn Gilbert (32 years, 82 days in 1997). He ultimately made 73 relief appearances that season.

Rice's reassignment leaves 36 players in major league camp. That includes Zack Wheeler and Edgin, both of whom are out for the season.