Mets open Grapefruit slate vs. Tigers

Mets open Grapefruit slate against Tigers

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets' diet of Michigan-based teams continues Wednesday. One day after they played a 4-4 tie against the University of Michigan, they are to play a presumably more formidable opponent, the Tigers.

The Mets begin their official exhibition season after a two-hour trip to Lakeland. No doubt they would opt to end their 2008 season playing the same team.

Mike Pelfrey, competing for a place in the Mets' starting rotation, is to start, opposite Jeremy Bonderman in the 1:05 p.m. ET game. But few regulars will make the trip for the Mets, who are to play the Cardinals in Jupiter on Thursday before playing their first game at home, Friday against the Cardinals.

Right fielder Ryan Church, reserve catcher Ramon Castro and Marlon Anderson are to make the trip to Lakeland. Inclement weather is forecast. More regulars are likely to play Thursday.

But Carlos Beltran and Luis Castillo are not likely to be among them. Beltran and Castillo underwent knee surgeries after last season and still are recovering. Endy Chavez, who injured his hamstring in winter ball, and Damion Easley, still recovering from the severe ankle sprain he suffered in July, aren't likely to play until next week, if then, either.

The club has no intention of rushing any of their mending players.

Besides Pelfrey, the Mets will bring three pitchers, who probably will figure in the Opening Day plans -- middle relievers Matt Wise and Jorge Sosa and left-handed setup man Pedro Feliciano.

Marty Noble is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.