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Mets’ bullpen spots up for 51s’ players takings

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Paul Sewald is a Las Vegan through and through.

But if the reliever is nowhere near his hometown this baseball season, he’d be more than happy about that.

Sewald, who spent all of last season with the 51s, is one of many battling for the final spots in the New York Mets’ bullpen.

Jeurys Familia, Fernando Salas, Hansel Robles, Jerry Blevins and Addison Reed have spots sewn up, though Familia is expected to face a suspension at the beginning of the season stemming from a domestic violence arrest.

That leaves a few spots up for grabs. For one, the Mets are looking for another lefty to pair with Blevins.

Josh Smoker, who made his debut last season after years of battling injuries, is one of the options for that spot.

“I’ve said this a million times but I mean I’m just happy with where I’m at right now because I could still be out of baseball looking for a job and not even have this opportunity,” Smoker said. “So as long as I’m still having that chance to fight for a spot, I’m happy.”


 

Smoker has given up one earned run in 7 1/3 innings in seven spring training games.

Smoker said he feels the best he’s ever felt at this point in spring, thanks in part to the Mets lightening up their throwing program at the beginning of camp.

His fate is linked with that of Josh Edgin, another lefty with a chance to make the club. Edgin is out of options, potentially giving him a leg up on the spot. But he’s given up three earned runs in 6.1 innings.

Tom Gorzelanny, another lefty in camp, was a non-roster invitee, though his chances seem less likely after struggling in spring training.

So, too, have Erik Goeddel and Sean Gilmartin, both of whom are on the 40-man roster but could find themselves back in Las Vegas.

While the Mets have an open competition open for their fifth starter spot between Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo and Zack Wheeler, Gsellman seems to be the favorite.

If Gsellman wins the spot, Wheeler could potentially stay in extended spring training as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery. The Mets could opt to send Lugo to the bullpen for long relief or stash him in Triple-A as a starter to keep him stretched out.

Rafael Montero, once a promising prospect who has struggled over the past couple seasons, has put himselft back in the mix with a solid spring. In 9⅔ innings, he’s struck out 14 and given up just two runs. Montero has been a starter in the minors and could be a long-relief option.

Submariner Ben Rowen has put himself on the radar with seven scoreless outings. So, too, has Sewald, who has compiled a 1.29 ERA in seven innings.

“I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from the staff,” Sewald said. “My delivery feels good, my mechanics feel good, my arm feels good, so at this point, I’m just trying to make good pitches when I’m out there and the rest will take care of itself.”

Sewald is not on the 40-man roster and has not pitched in the majors, unlike others trying to stick with the big-league team, but he has consistently performed well as he’s moved his way up through the minors.

Last year, as the 51s closer, Sewald saved 19 games and posted a 3.29 ERA in 65 2/3 innings.

“At the end of the day, either I make the team or I don’t, I still have a season this April, so for me, it’s all about getting ready for the season,” Sewald said. “Hopefully, it’s the major-league season, but if not, it’s the Triple-A season (and) I have to be ready for that, too.”

Follow all of our 51s coverage online at reviewjournal.com/51s.

Contact Betsy Helfand at bhelfand@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.

 

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