Montero making push to be part of Mets' bullpen

Montero making push to be part of Mets' bullpen

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Pitcher Rafael Montero continues to do two things: strike out batters in the Grapefruit League, and impress the Mets.

Bidding to join the staff as camp breaks in the next two weeks, the right-handed reliever worked two scoreless innings against the Marlins in New York's 7-5 loss on Sunday.

Montero allowed a pair of hits, but he fanned three and didn't walk a batter in his eighth appearance of Spring Training.

Montero, 26, now has 20 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings and lowered his ERA to 2.70.

"We've known that I get a lot of strikeouts and throw a lot of strikes. It's just been a matter of working on my command, but I've been working hard on that," Montero said through a translator.

"I'm using the curveball in the dirt a lot and the fastball outside."

A starting pitcher coming up through the Mets' farm system, Montero has been a reliever most of the time in the Majors, working out of the bullpen in 10 of his last 14 appearances for the Mets over the last two seasons.

"It's just a matter of getting ready quickly and preparing myself mentally. I'm here to help the team. Wherever they put me, I'm going to do my job," Montero said.

Added Mets manager Terry Collins: "Right now, he's locating his pitches that he hasn't done in the past. He works the edges of the plate, and this year he's catching those edges.

"He's starting to show us things we know he's got."

Off-balance

Yoenis Cespedes is known for his batting prowess and mammoth home runs, but the Mets' left fielder showed off some delicate footwork and agility to end the top of the fourth inning.

Cespedes nabs Anderson at second

Miami's Brian Anderson lashed a line-drive single off third baseman Ty Kelly's glove, slowing down the ball in front of Cespedes. The outfielder charged the ball, picked it up and fired an off-balance throw to second baseman Neil Walker, who had plenty of time to apply the tag on Anderson in his attempt to turn the hit into a double.

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