NEW YORK -- Manager Terry Collins offered rave reviews of Shaun Marcum's extended spring training game Thursday in Florida, in which the right-hander threw 41 pitches over four perfect innings.
"He pitched very well," Collins said. "He felt great. We're very excited."
Collins said that Marcum will attempt to throw 80 pitches next time out, possibly in an official Minor League rehab game. That could put him in line to make his season debut April 27 against the Phillies, when the Mets next need a fifth starter -- though the team has been careful not to publicly reveal any expectations for the right-hander's return.
Marcum, who signed a one-year deal in January worth $4 million plus incentives, has been on the disabled list since Opening Day with nerve inflammation in his neck. He went 7-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 21 starts for the Brewers last season, missing a month with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. His seven-year big league career has been checkered with elbow and shoulder troubles.
In Marcum's absence early this season, left-hander Aaron Laffey has been serving as a member of the rotation. But with Monday's off-day allowing the Mets to use a four-man rotation over the next week, Laffey will work out of the bullpen for the time being.