PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Perched several rows behind home plate at Digital Domain Park on Sunday, Sandy Koufax chatted idly with Mets owner Fred Wilpon but never diverted his attention from the game. On the mound was his newest pupil, starting pitcher Chris Capuano, and Koufax wanted to see how he would fare.
Greeting each other before the game, the two lefties planned to speak again after the final out. In the interim, Capuano kept busy by tossing three innings of one-run ball against the University of Michigan, striking out four in his spring debut.
"He's pretty astute," Capuano said of Koufax. "He's a pretty good observer. I try to ask him as many questions as I can -- take advantage of him while he's here."
2010 Spring Training - null
Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
During a bullpen session last weekend, Koufax worked with Capuano on keeping his weight forward and his right hip pointed toward home plate, in an effort to make his motions -- particularly on his fastball delivery -- more efficient. It appeared to work Sunday, with Capuano hitting 87 mph on the stadium radar gun. (He averaged that exact speed on his fastball last season.)
Though two hard-hit doubles led to a Michigan run in the second inning, Capuano -- by throwing 31 of his 37 offerings for strikes -- kept his pitch count low enough to complete three full innings, a rarity at this early stage of spring. He tacked on another eight pitches afterward in the bullpen to finish the day at 45.
"It's a good test for my arm this early in spring to be feeling good," said Capuano, who is nearly three years removed from the second of his two career Tommy John surgeries. "Last year, I was able to get my fastball back up into the 87 to 90 range, and if I can get it up into that range and stay there, I don't expect too much more than that. I'm happy there."
Ostensibly battling for the fifth starter's job in the rotation, Capuano remains the clear favorite from a group that also includes Oliver Perez, Jenrry Mejia, D.J. Carrasco and Dillon Gee.
"There's no talk, at least amongst the players, of numbers or spots," he said. "At this point, it's all about your routine and hitting the glove."