Valverde earns key role in Mets' bullpen

Valverde earns key role in Mets' bullpen

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- When the Mets signed Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth to Minor League contracts over the winter, the hope was that at least one of them would be able to provide veteran insurance for closer Bobby Parnell, who was coming off injury.

Valverde earned the job. The Mets officially placed him on their 40-man roster Wednesday, ensuring his spot in the Opening Day bullpen.

It will be a prominent role, to boot. Manager Terry Collins said that he may hold Parnell back from appearing on three consecutive days early in the season; on those nights, Valverde will pitch the ninth.

"You'd like your closer to go three or four in a row before you might think about giving him a day off," Collins said. "[But] we've got to make sure how Bobby feels. After two days in a row, I'll certainly be on top of that.

"Certainly [Valverde] is … going to hopefully be that bridge to Bob. And those nights that Bobby is going to need a night off, it's going to have to be Jose that's going to pick up the slack."

Valverde, 36, posted a 3.00 ERA in nine spring innings, striking out seven batters and walking one. When not on the mound, he earned acclaim for his tutelage of younger Latin pitchers including Jeurys Familia, Gonzalez Germen and Jenrry Mejia.

With Vic Black's demotion to Minor League camp, Germen should have a role alongside Valverde in the Opening Day bullpen. So will Familia, who could be in the late-innings mix after a strong spring showing.

Barring a last-minute surprise, those three will join Parnell, Carlos Torres, Scott Rice and John Lannan in the 'pen.

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