Mets top Tigers as Wright heads for WBC
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) - As Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander walked off the mound at the end of the first inning, he had a few words for a frustrated David Wright.
"I just told him to swing the bat," Verlander said after throwing a called third strike to fan the New York Mets star on three pitches, "I was just joking around with him. We grew up playing against each other. If you're going to have fun with somebody, now is the time. Obviously, I wouldn't do that during the regular season, but you can have a little bit more fun in spring training."
Verlander toyed with Mets hitters Friday, throwing three perfect innings in the Tigers' 6-2 loss.
The 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner struck out three and needed just 35 pitches for nine outs,
"If they would have let him keep going, this game would have been over in an hour-and-a-half," said Wright, who had an RBI single in the fifth. "He's in midseason form. He's out there working on some stuff and really hitting his spots."
With nearly a month left in spring training, Verlander said his fastball location may be ahead of pace. He had no trouble with his velocity, consistently reaching the low- to mid-90s as he threw to catcher Brayan Pena.
"It felt like it was coming out free and easy, again, for this time of year," Verlander said. "The first changeup I threw was kind of hard, but then I made the adjustment. I talked to Pena a little bit, made the adjustment and slowed that down and then a couple hanging breaking balls. But the breaking ball is usually the last thing to come around for me."
Mets starter Jonathon Niese also threw three scoreless innings in his major league exhibition debut. He had thrown two innings against the University of Michigan earlier this week.
Niese gave up three hits, struck out three and picked off a baserunner.
"I felt good," Niese said. "I think, for the most part, all of my pitches felt good."
Wright, playing in his final game before joining the U.S. for the World Baseball Classic, was 1 for 3 with a go-ahead RBI grounder.
"I feel ready," Wright said. "I feel as ready as a I can be after a week or so of games. I'm excited."
New York's Justin Turner had a two-run single in the sixth. Marlon Byrd had two hits and an RBI.
Prince Fielder had two hits for the Tigers, and Avisail Garcia hit a two-run homer in the fifth off Gonzalez German.
NOTES: Mets LHP Tim Byrdak arrived in camp Friday and will continue his rehabilitation from surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his shoulder. Byrdak hopes to be throwing off a mound by the end of spring training. ... Mets OF Lucas Duda saw a doctor for an undisclosed medical condition Friday and declared himself ready to play. Manager Terry Collins wasn't sure whether Duda will see action Saturday. ... Prior to the Friday's game, the Mets held a moment of silence for Sgt. Gary Morales, a St. Lucie County Sherriff's sergeant who was killed in the line of duty Thursday.