PORT ST. LUCIE — One of the criticisms Terry Collins often faced, even from within the Mets’ front office, was his handling of the team’s bullpen.
Jerry Blevins is on board with new manager Mickey Callaway’s plan to employ the Mets’ relievers without designated roles, and the veteran lefty also is looking forward to having a former pitcher as his manager for the first time in his career.
“I’m pretty sure he’s the only former pitcher/manager I’ve ever had, which is exciting for me. Any former pitchers, I’m always trying to learn from, so having him at the helm, can’t be anything but beneficial for me personally,” Blevins said of Callaway on Friday at First Data Field. “Being a pitching coach before he became a manager I think it’s going to help us control the bullpen and go with the flow of the game.
“A guy that’s been there before, a guy that has experience that a former position player just won’t have. He just has a different feel for the game from that aspect.”
Blevins had his $ 7 million team option exercised after posting a 2.94 ERA over a career-high 75 appearances (49 innings) last season. Callaway’s plan is to mix and match Blevins with Jeurys Familia, A.J. Ramos and free-agent signing Anthony Swarzak in the latter innings, depending on the matchups.
“They’ve had a great bullpen the whole time he’s been down there (in Cleveland),” Blevins said. “I think it’s a great idea. Mickey, he didn’t necessarily talk about ‘by committee.’ But he talked about putting us in the best position to be successful, and that’s all you can ask for.
“We don’t care whether it’s the fifth or the ninth inning, as long as the team’s winning and it’s beneficial for all of us, we’re excited.”
Injuries to most of the starting rotation resulted in the Mets’ relievers being heavily worked for extended innings under Collins last season.
“We want our starters to go seven, eight, nine (innings) every time,” Blevins said. “It does make it a little more difficult over the long haul if we can’t have guys that push into those later innings. Those are innings that we have to fill up. It can be a little taxing, but again, as long as our manager and our pitching coach are honest and open about what we need to do, which they have been, we’ll be ready.”
BACK IN THE SWING
Yoenis Cespedes was back at the complex for the second straight day and took some swings during batting practice. Cespedes, who spent two lengthy stints on the disabled list last season with hamstring injuries, also stood in the batter’s box tracking pitches while Noah Syndergaard threw his morning bullpen session.