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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mets News and Notes: Murphy, Nieuwenhuis, Francisco, Laffey

Mets News and Notes:

A day after his first game activity of spring training, Daniel Murphy did not feel up to playing in another minor league game. Murphy, who has been sidelined with a strained intercostal muscle on his right side, was "pretty stiff," according to Terry Collins.

Murphy had played five innings in a minor league game Friday -- playing second base and running the bases, but not hitting.

"It wasn't a setback -- just a little fatigue," Sandy Alderson said. "So we sat him out today."

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who suffered a bone bruise on his left knee while sliding two weeks ago, is nearing entering a minor league game.

Nieuwenhuis participated in the team's warm-up routine Saturday and also hit, tossed a baseball and went through outfield drills.

The lone remaining hurdle before entering a game is to run the bases.

Nieuwenhuis now is more likely to be ticketed for Triple-A Las Vegas to open the season.

Frank Francisco threw his third bullpen session of the week Saturday morning as he works back from elbow inflammation. Francisco said he would expect to throw two more bullpen sessions before advancing to batting practice.

He remains likely to open the season on the disabled list.

Francisco threw fastballs and curveballs during Saturday's 31-pitch session, which he estimated was at 80-percent capacity. He portrayed the session as positive, but acknowledged he feels stiffness and a "sting" -- although not pain.

"It's not like sharp pain, but I feel like it's not 100 percent yet," Francisco said. "It only happens when ... I try to push more than what I have. Last time I was throwing 70 percent, maybe, I feel soreness. Today I went more than 70, but I feel the same. I feel like I'm improving."

With Jeremy Hefner poised to step into the rotation until Johan Santana is ready, the Mets need to have a safety net in place should another need arise. That will be 27-year-old left-hander Aaron Laffey, who is 25-29 with a 4.38 ERA in 148 appearances (65 starts) over six major league seasons, primarily with the Cleveland Indians.

Laffey tossed 2 1/3 no-hit innings in Friday’s game against the Atlanta Braves, which Hefner started. He has allowed seven hits and three walks in eight scoreless Grapefruit League innings.

Laffey is due to start Wednesday’s game in Kissimmee, Fla., against the Houston Astros to continue to build up his innings count.

“I think they know what I can do,” Laffey said. “I’ve been in the big leagues for over four years now. It’s just nice to get out there and throw multiple innings.”

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