Putz, Maine solid as Mets beat Astros

March 1, 2009 3:01:05 PM PST
J.J. Putz departed New York Mets camp on a high note. Putz made his spring debut Sunday and worked a scoreless inning in a 13-1 victory over the Houston Astros before leaving to join Team USA for the World Baseball Classic.

"It's a huge honor to wear USA across my chest," he said. "I think that's the approach they've taken to putting this team together: They've got guys who are passionate about playing for Team USA.

"I don't know how much the Mets fans will like this, but I'm excited to play with Derek (Jeter) behind me. He's been one of the most consistent guys I've watched during my short career."

The Mets also got good news about Johan Santana, who said he was OK after throwing a bullpen session Sunday morning. The team decided against sending him to snowy New York for an MRI on his balky left elbow.

"He felt he was fine, so he's not going to New York as planned," general manager Omar Minaya said. "He'll be seen by our doctors when they come down. It was the weather also."

Putz has been pretty busy in his first spring training with New York, who acquired the reliever from Seattle in the offseason.

The right-hander flew to Arizona last week for the birth of his son. After Sunday's win, he hopped into a limousine with third baseman David Wright to travel to Clearwater for Team USA camp.

"I've been pretty tired the last couple of days," Putz said.

Miguel Tejada, coming off a tumultuous offseason, went deep in the first inning for Houston. He ended a 10-pitch at-bat on a windy day by slicing a twisting shot just inside the foul pole in right field for his first of the spring.

Last month, Tejada became the first prominent major leaguer to be convicted of a crime related to the use of performance-enhancing drugs when he admitted lying to congressional investigators about steroid use. Tejada is facing prison time and deportation but is expected to avoid both. He is to be sentenced March 26.

Tejada's drive was the only run allowed by John Maine, who walked two and struck out one in two innings.

"I didn't have much behind my fastball today, but I was just trying to work on a couple of things," said Maine, who also singled in his only at-bat. "I went out there and my arm felt fine, but my body wasn't all that good."

Maine said he mixed in four or five curveballs, a new pitch for him.

Brian Schneider hit a grand slam and Carlos Delgado added a three-run homer in New York's eight-run third inning. Schneider finished with five RBIs, and backup catcher Ramon Castro hit a three-run homer in the eighth.

Fernando Nieve, trying to win the fifth spot in Houston's rotation, allowed three hits in two shutout innings.

"I felt like I didn't have good command of my breaking stuff," Nieve said. "It was my first start of spring training and I didn't want to show too much. I was pretty excited."

Notes: Houston LHP Mike Hampton will make his second spring start Monday against the New York Yankees in Kissimmee. ... The Mets announced they had agreed to terms with C Robinson Cancel, 1B-OF Nick Evans, OF Daniel Murphy, OF Sean Green, RHP Brian Stokes, RHP Rocky Cherry, RHP Brandon Knight, RHP Darren O'Day, RHP Carlos Muniz, RHP Connor Robertson, LHP Jon Niese, RHP Robert Parnell and RHP Eddie Kunz on one-year contracts. ... Houston RHP Clay Hensley recorded two outs in the third and was charged with eight runs, four earned, and five hits.