PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Originally, Bobby Parnell had not intended to step on a mound until the end of the month.
But there was Parnell on Friday morning, throwing 10 pitches off a mound at the Mets' Spring Training complex. Parnell hardly let things fly in the abbreviated session, exerting little more energy than he would have off flat ground. But the experience nonetheless encouraged the Mets closer in his quest to be ready for Opening Day.
"He just wanted to see how it felt, and it felt great," manager Terry Collins said. "So I thought it was a good start."
Parnell, who underwent surgery in September to replace a herniated disc in his neck, discussed the plan with Mets trainers and pitching coach Dan Warthen before climbing atop a mound for the first time this spring.
Shortly after watching Parnell throw, Collins reiterated that he is in line to be the Mets' closer. The manager indicated that recent acquisitions Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth are near-locks to make the Opening Day bullpen, but that neither -- barring re-injury -- will supplant Parnell from ninth-inning duties.
"We might have that game where you've got the middle of the lineup coming up in the seventh inning, and that's when you're going to have to shut it down," Collins said. "That's where their veteran presence and their ability to have that background of pitching in those tough situations might get us to the ninth inning in better shape. Anytime you have quality veterans like those two guys, they're going to come in with a leg up due to their experience."