Mets’ Matz working on pickoff move, seeing results


The Associated Press

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Knowing he needed to improve some of the finer points, Mets pitcher Steven Matz didn’t balk.

Instead, the New York lefty came to spring training camp willing to put in the time, and the results already are showing.

Matz is trying to speed up his pickoff move to first base, and has developed a faster, slicker motion he likes.

“I think it’s just repetition. The more you feel comfortable with it then the more confident you are,” Matz said after his third spring start on Friday.

Tommy Pham of the Cardinals fell victim to Matz’s move in the third inning after drawing a four-pitch walk. Pham took off toward second on Matz’s first movement, but the pitcher was throwing to the base, not the plate.

“I actually wasn’t even reading [him] there and just saw that he was getting a big secondary, kind of timing me up. I knew I was going to first,” said Matz, who has only one balk in 34 career starts with the Mets.

“I think guys will start running on me, and the more repetition I get the easier it will be. I’ll just feel like it’s part of my repertoire,” he said.

Mets first baseman Lucas Duda caught Matz’s toss and threw to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who made the tag as Pham slid headfirst. Pham was called out and injured on the play, apparently having part of his batting helmet hit his face.

Pham was treated by the Cardinals’ training staff and removed from the game.

The 25-year-old Matz was put on the disabled list Aug. 22 with a shoulder problem. He didn’t pitch again and had surgery in early September for bone spurs in his elbow.

Matz struggled with his control some in the outing against the Cardinals, walking three in 3 2/3 innings of a 16-2 win. He said his fastball location — he consistently hit 93 mph on the radar gun — hasn’t been sharp in two of his three Grapefruit League starts.

“I think my fastball was up today. It was in the first start, too. Staying within myself and being able to locate that fastball down, I think, would be the biggest stride I’d like to make,” he said.

Matz allowed one run on two hits and struck out three.

Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright gave up 10 runs on seven hits and four walks in 1ª innings. Wilmer Flores hit a grand slam off Wainwright and drove in six runs.

∫ NOTES: Flores said he has fielded grounders at every infield position. “I take ground balls at short a lot because you’ve got to keep moving your feet. If you keep taking ground balls at first every day, you get a little bit lazy. They just told me to take ground balls everywhere,” he said. . Due to a day off next Tuesday, RHP Noah Syndergaard will pitch in a minor league game today. RHP Robert Gsellman will start against the Cardinals in Jupiter.

By Paul Wager

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