As the Mets build hope that the team's bullpen will be better this season than it was in 2019, a key piece of the puzzle is the addition of Dellin Betances.
After missing all but one game in 2019 due to shoulder/lat issues and then a partial Achilles tear upon his return, Betances made his Mets spring training debut on Saturday afternoon against the Washington Nationals.
His line in the box score wasn't pretty, as he was tagged for three runs (two earned) with two walks and a wild pitch in just one-third of an inning, but he came out of his first appearance feeling healthy, which he says is most important.
"It felt good. It was nice to finally be back out there and get some more adrenaline than the back field, so it was fun," Betances said.
"I was just kind of making sure everything felt good, so that was my biggest concern. Obviously, I was probably a little quicker than I wanted to be, and kind of a little out of whack for a little bit. Other than that, I came out healthy, which is the number one thing for me."
Throughout his major-league career, Betances has been a flamethrower, easily reaching the mid to upper 90s with his fastball. On Saturday, though, his velocity was in the high 80s, though he did reach the 90mph mark as well.
But before Mets fans start to feel concern about that velocity, Betances explained that he usually begins his springs throwing lower velocities before ramping things up as the regular season approaches.
"I'm usually a slower starter than most," said Betances. "I'll try to continue to progress with that. ... There were a few years that I did (start out pitching in the high 80s, low 90s). There were years that I've started out hotter, but I remember '14,'15, that's probably where I was my first outing."
"Obviously, I'm not at where I need to be just yet."
"It was great to see him out there facing a different uniform," Mets manager Luis Rojas said. "He's been out there throwing live BP and sim games. I know it's a big step for him. He started off pretty good, threw two strikes and then went to his slider and lost his touch a little bit. He had the challenge right away with two fast runners on base. He started quickening up his delivery in his first time out there. He might have lost his touch a little bit but I'm just happy to see him out there."
With the start of the regular season now just 19 days away, the veteran right-hander remains locked in on being ready come March 26.
"My goal is Opening Day," said Betances. "That's been my goal during my offseason preparation, so why change it now, you know?"