Blevins strikes out Harper in Mets debut, a 2-0 win

VIERA, Fla. (AP) A day after being traded from the Washington Nationals to the New York Mets, left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins found himself facing slugger Bryce Harper.

Blevins got the best of his pal.

The Mets' reliever struck out Harper on three pitches to start off the seventh inning Tuesday as the Mets beat the Nationals 2-0.

''He's a friend of mine, but we're on the field together, we're both competitors,'' Blevins said. ''There's no friendly, `I'm going to give you a fastball down the middle,' or he's going to take a pitch. It's baseball.''

Blevins, who was sent to the Mets for outfielder Matt den Dekker, spent one year in Washington after playing seven previous seasons with the Oakland A's.

Harper was the only batter Blevins faced on Tuesday, and it will likely be the first of many once the regular season begins.

''Of course, (Mets manager) Terry (Collins) wants to see that matchup,'' Nationals manager Matt Williams said. ''I would imagine whoever the lefty is, Bryce will get those guys when appropriate.

''He a couple of slow curveballs that Bryce didn't wait quite long enough for. (Harper) has never seen him in game competition,'' Williams. ''It's good for Bryce to get a sense of him, too, just in case.''

Though it might seem strange, facing former teammates just a day after being traded, Blevins didn't seem affected at all.

''It was actually pretty natural,'' he said. ''It didn't feel too bad. It was different running in from that bullpen. That was the only difference.''

STARTING TIME

Nationals: Gio Gonzalez allowed two runs, including a solo homer to New York's John Mayberry Jr., in 5 2-3 innings while allowing seven hits and striking out six. Gonzalez will stay in Viera to pitch in a minor league game on Sunday before joining the team in Washington.

''I'm ready to go,'' he said. ''I'm excited. I'm ready to break with the team and have some fun and get ready for the season. I'm looking forward to the cold weather in D.C.''

Mets: Jonathon Niese threw six shutout innings, striking out three. He credited a change in mechanics that has him striding ''probably a foot further toward home plate.''

''I'm using my legs, using my body to do the pitching instead of just trying to muscle it up there with my arm,'' Niese said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: 3B Anthony Rendon went to Vail, Colorado, Tuesday to get a third opinion on his injured left knee from Dr. Steven Singleton. Dr. James Andrews on Monday confirmed the original diagnosis, a sprained medial collateral ligament ... RHP Drew Storen was getting treated for a blister on his big right toe. ''They're working hard on it, drying it up, getting it healed,'' Williams said. ''We'll go according to how that all plays out. But it's pretty angry.'' ... LF Jayson Werth (shoulder surgery) took Tuesday off after playing in a minor league game Monday. Because of disabled list rules, Williams said the team would not use Werth in a Grapefruit League game unless the team felt he would be ready for opening day.

ESCOBAR AT THIRD

Yunel Escobar played third base for Washington after volunteering to move there from second base due to Rendon's uncertain status. Escobar fielded three balls Tuesday, and even started a double play. He was originally credited with an error on the next play, but it was changed to a hit.

UP NEXT

Mets: Opening-day starter Bartolo Colon makes his last spring training start as the Mets host the St. Louis Cardinals. Carlos Martinez, recently named the fifth starter for St. Louis, will throw for the Cardinals.

Nationals: Washington visits Miami as Jordan Zimmermann makes his final spring start for the Nationals. Jarred Cosart is scheduled for Miami.

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