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Notes: Feliciano feeling confident

Notes: Feliciano feeling confident

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Pedro Feliciano smiled when an unfamiliar reporter complimented the left-hander on his success out of the Mets bullpen this spring.

"I worked hard in the offseason," said Feliciano, who was determined to arrive at Spring Training in top pitching form. "I just wanted to be ready to show them that I can do the same thing that I did last year."

So far, so good. In 12 exhibition appearances, Feliciano allowed only one run -- a homer by John Knott in a 2-1 split-squad loss to the Orioles on March 24.

The 30-year-old hasn't forgotten his mistake.

"I threw a slider," he said. "I hung it over the middle, and he got good wood on it and he hit it out."

In 2006, Feliciano ranked third among National League relievers with a 2.09 ERA and had career highs with 64 appearances, seven victories, 60 1/3 innings pitched and 54 strikeouts. He won his last six decisions.

"He was one of the best lefties in the game last year, and he just picked up right where he left off coming into Spring Training," Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson said. "He's a huge asset for us."

Peterson is more impressed with Feliciano's overall development than his 0.69 ERA.

"His command is better, and his game awareness is better," Peterson said. "He can read hitters' takes and swings and understand what they're trying to do, whereas before, you're almost so self-absorbed with what you're trying to do that you can't even see sometimes."

Peterson has stressed with Feliciano the importance of working ahead in the count, locating fastballs on both sides of the plate, delivering strikes when he is behind in the count and getting quality right-handed batters to hit the ball on the ground.

"His process has been phenomenal," Peterson said, "and it so happens that his outcome has followed right with it."

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Asked whether his confidence entering a season was at an all-time high, Feliciano flashed another winning smile.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," he said. "This is the time."

Blast at last: First baseman Carlos Delgado feels his batting form has room for improvement. That revelation will do nothing to encourage opposing pitchers who witness a replay of Saturday's game against Tampa Bay.

In the fourth inning of an 8-3 loss, Delgado drilled a James Shields offering high above the center-field wall at Tropicana Field. The blast was his only home run of the exhibition season.

"I don't think a home run or a single or whatever is an indication that this is it, we're ready," said Delgado, who once hit four homers in a game against the Devil Rays, "but it's nice when you can accomplish something that gives you a sense of, 'OK, we're going in the right direction.'"

Delgado entered the spring finale with only 32 at-bats against big-league pitching, having missed a week to be with his wife in Puerto Rico for the birth of their first child, Carlos Antonio, on March 23.

Two hours before the mammoth home run, third baseman David Wright said there was no need to worry about cobwebs on Delgado's bat.

"He's a professional hitter," Wright said. "He knows what it takes to be successful. He's gotten his work in. He's gotten a ton of at-bats the last couple of days, so he's going to be ready."

Amazin' memory: Don Zimmer clearly remembers the buzz in 1962, when he and other original Mets assembled for their first spring camp in St. Petersburg.

"You'd have thought that we'd just won three World Series," said Zimmer, a third baseman on that inaugural team. "There were photographers and newspaper people from all over the world for the daffy New York Mets with Casey Stengel. It was something."

Left behind: Less than a week after winning a spot in the starting rotation, right-hander Mike Pelfrey suffered a tough outing on Saturday.

The 23-year-old surrendered eight earned runs and 10 hits over four innings. He also hit two batters, walked one and delivered a wild pitch.

Former Met Ty Wigginton did the most damage with a three-run homer off a 3-2 pitch with one out in the first inning.

"My whole thought process was, 'I'm going to get the ball down here and get him to roll over and ground out,'" Pelfrey said. "I threw a fastball up, and it was flat. He made me pay for it."

Pelfrey will remain in Florida and likely make a Minor League start in extended Spring Training before making his 2007 debut as the fifth man in the rotation.

"It looked like he was overthrowing the ball a little bit," manager Willie Randolph said, "like he was just trying to do a little bit too much, which young players do sometimes."

No biggie: Outfielder Shawn Green was not left sour by his .149 batting average in Grapefruit League play.

"Spring stats, as far as wins and losses and batting averages and ERAs, there's not a big enough sampling to have any significance," said Green, a career .282 hitter.

Quote of the day: "It's like the night before Christmas. We've been doing this a long time, but I would venture to say that we're pretty pumped up to get going tomorrow." -- Randolph, on the excitement of beginning a new season

Quick hits: Randolph revealed his Opening Day batting order will match the lineup used Friday. ... Jose Valentin also homered off Shields on Saturday, a solo shot in the fifth. ... The Mets own a 28-17 record on Opening Day. Their .622 winning percentage is the best in baseball history.

Coming up: Left-hander Tom Glavine will take the mound for the Mets in their nationally televised season opener at St. Louis on Sunday night at 8:05 ET. Cards right-hander Chris Carpenter will take the ball for the defending World Series champions.

Bob Bellone is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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