Veterans able to skip long road trip

Veterans able to skip long road trip

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Feliciano and Beltran girls, born in June and October last year, respectively, made their clubhouse debuts Monday afternoon after the Mets and Red Sox got even with each other. Their fathers carried them around, making introductions, but, more than that, enjoying fatherhood.

"She makes you feel so special," Carlos Beltran said as Ivana met her father's co-workers.

Ryan Church still must wait for that feeling. The arrival of Mason Church is scheduled for Thursday. And there probably won't be any clubhouse visits for the lad before the Mets head north. But father-to-be-hood has its privileges.

Because of Mason's pending arrival, his father gets to go to Fort Myers on Tuesday.

"I'll thank him for that some day," Church said ruefully. "I'll let him know what I went through for him."

Church will be otherwise occupied Thursday and Friday, so he will be quite occupied Tuesday. The trip from Port St. Lucie to Fort Myers for the Mets' game against the Red Sox will occupy three hours. Church will be one of the few Mets veterans making it.

Fort Myers is not a Spring Training site veteran players often see. Pitchers have been known to pay off their pitching coaches -- Dwight Gooden used to give Mel Stottlemyre Gummi Bears -- to avoid the home of the Twins and Red Sox. So it is that Nelson Figueroa is to start for the Mets on Tuesday afternoon.

While Church, Figueroa and the others who couldn't beg out of it are bussing, Pedro Martinez, and his aversion to road games in Florida, will be pitching a simulated game in Port St. Lucie.

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Martinez avoided the extended round-trip by winning three Cy Young Awards, 209 games and striking out 3,030 batters.

How Scott Schoeneweis missed out remained an unknown, one he declined to examine.

"I just know I'm not going. Whatever the reason is, I like it," he said.

Schoeneweis initially had been listed to follow Figueroa.

"Maybe some one decided to treat me like a 10-year veteran," Schoeneweis said.

Martinez's simulated start will be his last this spring. He is to make his first start against a real opponent, the Tigers, on Sunday in Port St. Lucie, unless he starts the Mets' other game that day, in Kissimmee.

"I don't think that's the plan," he said.

Martinez's assignment will be followed Wednesday by a simulated game staged solely for the benefit of Orlando Hernandez, who had yet to use his modified delivery in anything resembling competition.

A simulated start here, a simulated start there. Church wanted to know: "Can we simulate the bus ride?"

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