March 04, 2016

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) Marcell Ozuna had a double and two singles to improve to 5 for 5 in spring training, helping a Miami Marlins' split squad tie the New York Mets 4-4 Friday.

Ozuna has a home run and two doubles in his first two exhibition games.

''I was working in the offseason,'' Ozuna said. ''To see the progress right now, I feel great. I just worked hard and worked on my swing and my body. Now with spring training I see where I'm at and that it helped.''

Travis d'Arnaud scored a run for the Mets and Neil Walker had a single in his Mets spring training debut after seven seasons with Pittsburgh. Mets prospect Dilson Herrera was 2 for 2, including a tying, inside-the-park homer in the ninth.

Marlins starter Justin Nicolino allowed a leadoff single by Juan Lagares, then retired six batters in order.

''The first hitter I was a little jittery,'' Nicolino said. ''He hit a good changeup, but after that I settled in and felt relaxed. I felt a lot better (in the second inning), I was sticking my fastball where I wanted it, I was getting ahead -- and that's the biggest thing for me.''

Mets starter Logan Verrett gave up two runs and two hits in two innings.


Marlins: Nicolino said he pitching in front of a boisterous, sellout crowd of 7,003 felt like a regular-season game.

''I was lucky enough to pitch in Citi Field last year when they were in the middle of the playoff race, and it was the same kind of atmosphere,'' Nicolino said. ''This is stuff you live for, and you enjoy that.''

Mets: Verrett, who is in the mix for a long relief spot in the Mets bullpen, said he prepares the same whether he's starting or coming out of the bullpen.

''Still come to the field every day ready to work,'' he said. ''You get your work in in the weight room, get your running in, your throwing in whether you are going out to throw two innings or six innings. It doesn't change. Got to be flexible and ready to roll with the punches.''


Rather than arrive in Port St. Lucie three hours before the game and do their pre-game work on the road, Marlins manager Don Mattingly had his players prepare at the team's complex in Jupiter. The Marlins arrived in Port St. Lucie little more than an hour before the game. Mattingly is used the practice in Arizona, where teams usually take batting practice on their home field before traveling for road spring training games.


''I started getting excited when I got off the (Interstate 95) exit and the exit line to get off - I thought it was a real game. It was backed up over a mile,'' said comedian Jim Breuer, a lifelong Mets fan. ''This is for spring training? I remember coming down here and I could walk on the field and just show up three minutes before the game. I felt like I was going to an actual Citi Field game. This just shows how excited everyone is. Everyone's got their shirt on, everyone's walking around with their feathers a little fluffed up saying, Yeah, `I'm a Met fan baby.'''


Marlins: Newly acquired LHP Wei-Yin Chin starts for Miami as they host LHP Marco Gonzalez and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Mets: RHP prospect Robert Gsellman starts for the Mets on the road against LHP Collin McHugh and the Houston Astros.

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