SPORTS

Francisco Rodríguez Makes Spring Training Debut

  • New York Mets pitcher Francisco Rodriguez fields a ball while taking part in drills during spring training baseball Friday, Feb. 18, 2011, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

    New York Mets pitcher Francisco Rodriguez fields a ball while taking part in drills during spring training baseball Friday, Feb. 18, 2011, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)  (AP2011)

  • New York Mets pitcher Francisco Rodriguez fields a ball while taking part in drills during spring training baseball Friday, Feb. 18, 2011, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

    New York Mets pitcher Francisco Rodriguez fields a ball while taking part in drills during spring training baseball Friday, Feb. 18, 2011, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)  (AP2011)

Francisco Rodríguez, after months of court appearances, injuries and apologies, finally made it back to the diamond Thursday.

The Mets closer was in his return to the mound for the first time in a Mets uniform since last August. The right-hander pitched a quick, scoreless third inning in his spring debut, allowing just one hit and striking out one batter, and New York went on to beat a split squad of St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 on Thursday.

K-Rod was placed on the disqualified list after an incident at Citi Field last summer when he attacked his girlfriend's father and tore a ligament in his right thumb. He since has settled his grievance with the organization and is doing court-mandated anger management sessions as part of his plea agreement.

"I'm pleased with the outing," Rodriguez said. "I didn't get much work because they jumped right away early in the count, but I'm happy. ... My command was there, which is good. Now I just need to get a little stronger and move forward."

Daniel Descalso flied out on a first pitch to left field, Shane Robinson doubled on a first pitch, and Tyler Greene struck out before Matt Carpenter flew out to right field to end Rodríguez's brief appearance.

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It was an all-around good day for the Mets' pitching staff. Oliver Pérez started things off with two strong innings, as he bounced back from a shaky first outing in which he allowed four runs on four hits with three walks in three innings Sunday.

Pérez, whose velocity has been down since coming back from knee surgery in September 2009, gave up two hits and didn't walk any batters Thursday, while throwing 16 of 25 pitches for strikes.

"I was really focused to be ready for this game and trying to get better and trying to change everything that happened in the last game," Pérez said. "That's why spring training is important. You don't have to think about everything that happened. You just have to focus on the job and just have fun."

The outing was good enough that manager Terry Collins said it kept Pérez in the mix for a spot in the starting rotation.

"If he would have had a tough day, I probably would have thought about (what) we talked about when we came in here, and that is that situational lefty (spot) because he does get left-handed hitters out," Collins said. "He did what we asked him to do today, and we are going to run him out there again."

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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