PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Every morning, Jeurys Familia jogs around the Mets' Spring Training complex to work on his conditioning. Every morning, Familia takes extra fielding practice, a habit that stemmed from his troubles with batted balls two years ago. Every morning, Familia does the little, unseen things to improve.
But until Monday, because the Mets lumped him in with a group of starting pitchers who threw significant innings last season, Familia had not pitched in a game. When he did, he showed off the fruits of his work -- sinkers "that exploded," in manager Terry Collins' words, during a perfect fifth inning with two strikeouts in the Mets' 7-3 win over the Tigers.
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"It felt great," Familia said. "I'm so excited to do what I love to do, and I'm excited the season is finally coming, too."
This was Familia's first appearance since Game 5 of the World Series, one of three Series losses in which he blew the save. The Mets' unquestioned closer has spent much of this spring downplaying talk that such recent history might affect him heading into this season, and Monday's clean inning was the first piece of hard evidence that he's probably right.
"I left the pitches in the middle," Familia said of the World Series. "They made good swings. But it's not something that affects me a lot. I think positive things, trying to get back where we were last year, and trying to do my job."
Unlike last spring, when Familia tinkered with a high four-seam fastball that he ultimately abandoned, he does not have anything new in the works this month. His manager wants Familia instead to focus on sharpening up the pitches he does have, particularly his slider and split-fingered fastball.
"You see it a lot where you think, 'Oh, jeez, I've got to come up with another pitch,'" Collins said. "And then all of your other stuff, you spend so much time trying to get it that you lose the sinker or you lose the split. Let's stick with what's working."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.