PORT ST. LUCIE — Seth Lugo was back on a mound Saturday and looking forward to a normal spring training.
“All the pitches were there, executing and locating,” said the Mets right-hander, who had been limited to playing catch in recent days after fracturing his left pinky toe. Lugo threw without padding in his shoe.
“Real light and real simple right now, the further along we’ll start to do some tougher stuff.”
Lugo’s next step could be progressing to live batting practice, usually a necessary step before a pitcher is allowed to participate in a Grapefruit League game.
“I felt a little soreness when I got done, but that is to be expected” Lugo said. “Hopefully, [Sunday] that is gone.”
The Mets’ traveling squad lost 2-0 to the Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla., with Marcus Stroman allowing one run on three hits over 1 ¹/₃ innings. Brandon Nimmo departed after getting hit by a pitch in the sixth inning, but manager Luis Rojas indicated the outfielder was removed as part of a scripted plan.
Jeff McNeil singled leading off the game for the Mets and scored their first run in a 5-3 exhibition loss to the Marlins at Clover Park. McNeil is a consideration to hit leadoff during the season.
Rojas indicated it was a relief to finally manage an exhibition game. The Mets hired Rojas, their former quality control coach, only a month ago, after Carlos Beltran departed the organization for his role in the Astros’ sign-stealing scheme.
“Going out there I was really excited to watch them compete,” Rojas said. “The first-inning guys were having really good at-bats throughout our lineup and now going into the game we played real good defense today.”
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the opening of the refurbished Clover Park. New infrastructure, clubhouses and a left-field patio were among the $57 million in improvements, which were financed largely by the city of Port St. Lucie. Team COO Jeff Wilpon and local officials participated in the ceremony. Wilpon cited his father Fred Wilpon and real estate developer Thomas J. White for bringing the Mets to Port St. Lucie in 1988 — the team previously held spring training in St. Petersburg — but omitted late co-owner Nelson Doubleday.
Chasen Shreve allowed two runs on two hits in the second, including a homer to Harold Ramirez leading off the inning. The left-hander Shreve is a non-roster invitee to camp.
The Mets turned three double plays, with shortstop Andres Gimenez starting two of them. Gimenez also went 1-for-3 at the plate.
The Mets will face the Cardinals at Clover Park, with Steven Matz and Adam Wainwright on the mound. Jeurys Familia, Robert Gsellman and Brad Brach are scheduled to follow Matz.