Goeddel back on hill, but may miss start of '16

Mets reliever happy with 'pen session; Collins unsure righty will get enough innings

Goeddel back on hill, but may miss start of '16

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- For the first time since straining his right lat muscle early in Spring Training, setting him back several weeks, Mets reliever Erik Goeddel climbed atop a mound Saturday for a 15-pitch bullpen session.

"I felt like a baseball player again," Goeddel said.

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Though Goeddel did not throw any of his pitches at maximum effort, he was thrilled with the outcome of the session. He will return to a mound for more work at the beginning of next week; if all continues to go well, Goeddel's Grapefruit League debut is tentatively scheduled for March 20.

"It all just depends how I feel, how I'm throwing and stuff like that," Goeddel said. "They said at this point, it's mostly up to me how I feel and how everything's going. But today couldn't have gone better, so that's a good start."

With more than three weeks to go before Opening Day, there is theoretically enough time for Goeddel to work into game shape. But manager Terry Collins said that "it's going to be hard to say" anytime soon, given the reliever's lack of spring innings.

If healthy, Goeddel would be a favorite to make the Mets' bullpen thanks to his experience last season -- a 2.43 ERA in 35 games last season. But he is not one of the five relievers -- Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, Antonio Bastardo, Jerry Blevins and Hansel Robles -- that Collins considers locks for jobs. If Goeddel is not ready by Opening Day, Jim Henderson appears next in line given his scoreless stat line in four spring games.

The Mets are stretching out one prime bullpen candidate, Logan Verrett, as a starter, while others -- including Josh Smoker and Jeff Walters, who are both on the 40-man roster -- have struggled in Grapefruit League play. Henderson is not on the 40-man, but the Mets will open up at least one spot when they place starter Zack Wheeler on the 60-day disabled list before Opening Day.

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.