Demons nowhere in sight as Familia returns to KC

Mets' closer quietly blanks Royals months after distressing World Series

Demons nowhere in sight as Familia returns to KC

KANSAS CITY -- Jeurys Familia heard the whispers during Spring Training, just as he did a year ago. His velocity was down. Perhaps he was hurt. Perhaps what the Royals did to him last October -- inducing blown saves in all three of his World Series opportunities -- was just the beginning.

But Familia knew all along that after throwing a career-high 92 2/3 innings from April through October, he was simply saving his best stuff for the season. All of which he proved in short order on Tuesday, closing out the Mets' 2-0 win over the Royals with a breezy ninth inning at Kauffman Stadium.

"Some guys said something in spring, that I don't throw hard anymore," Familia said. "I was just trying to focus on getting ready for the season. I know what I've got.

"I throw hard when I want to throw hard."

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Consider this plenty hard. After resting in the low 90s for much of Spring Training, Familia on Tuesday graduated to his usual velocity: upper-90s sinkers, topping out at 98 mph. Opening the ninth inning with one at the knees to strike out Lorenzo Cain, Familia went on to induce groundouts from Eric Hosmer and Kendrys Morales. Alex Gordon, the man whose World Series Game 1 homer remains a haunting memory for Familia, remained stranded on deck.

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"I think it's good for him," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Certainly, they're a left-handed lineup. Lefties at times can give him trouble. He's a real, real good pitcher, and I think today was a good step forward."

"Of course it's fun for me coming here, and trying to show what I can do, and doing my job," added Familia. "I know it's baseball. Everything happens for a reason. We lost last year during the World Series, but we're still hungry. We're still hungry to get there again and win the whole thing."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for 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.