Despite solid start, Lannan groomed for 'pen

Despite solid start, Lannan groomed for 'pen

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Until further notice, John Lannan is a starting pitcher. That is the mentality he takes to the mound every five days as he competes for the Mets' fifth starter's job.

But the team has already told Lannan it would like to see him in relief, and that information has made its way around the clubhouse. After Lannan completed four sharp innings in Wednesday's Grapefruit League loss to the Cardinals, closer Bobby Parnell stopped by Lannan's locker to offer some tips on life as a reliever.

The benefit, Parnell said, is that most relievers throw every day even if they don't pitch in games. So they remain sharper on a daily basis than starters such as Lannan, who struggled in the first inning Wednesday before settling down to strike out four of the final five batters he faced.

"As a starting pitcher, that first inning could be a little rusty because you haven't been on the mound in five days," Lannan said. "That's the biggest thing I deal with is just kind of shaking the rust off and settling down."

The Mets will use Lannan in relief at some point soon, though it remains to be seen how he will take to it. With Josh Edgin and Jack Leathersich no longer in camp, Lannan and Scott Rice are the only left-handed bullpen candidates still competing for jobs. Given manager Terry Collins' preference to carry two lefty relievers whenever possible, Lannan has a significant advantage over his right-handed brethren.

But until the Mets tell him he's a reliever, Lannan will not alter his regular routine.

"I started today," Lannan said. "I'm going to act as if I'm starting five days from now until I'm told otherwise."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.