WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The well-traveled John Curtiss has been in a similar position before, so he knows not to look too far ahead.
“You don’t make the team on March 11,” the reliever said Saturday.
Still, he is building a strong case to make the Mets’ roster by the March 30 regular-season opener.
Curtiss pitched his fourth scoreless inning of the Grapefruit League on Saturday night in a 10-7 loss to the Nationals at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
In his first season back from September 2021 Tommy John surgery, the right-hander has looked strong in the early going.
“I’m happy with the results, but I’m happier with the process,” Curtiss said. “I feel a lot better that I feel good physically, and the ball is coming out of my hand well.”
Curtiss was a sneaky signing a year ago, the Mets essentially paying him to rehab for a year so they could keep him when he returned to health.
His arm looks healthy. After a perfect, two-strikeout first inning against Washington, he has allowed one hit, walked none and struck out eight in four Grapefruit League innings.
“I feel like I’m a little bit more consistent right now [than before surgery],” the 29-year-old said. “But that might just be that my arm feels better, so I can get to my slot easier. I feel like probably pre-surgery, my slider was still a little bit harder. And I’m getting that back.”
His fastball — which averaged 95 mph in 2021 — has returned, and while rehabbing last year, Curtiss learned a changeup that he is introducing to his arsenal.
Before surgery, Curtiss was often a shutdown reliever, having posted a 2.48 ERA in 35 games with the Marlins in 2021. He is giving, as manager Buck Showalter said, “a reminder of how good he was. The big thing is staying healthy. If he can, he can help us.”
Curtiss can be optioned to the minor leagues, which means he faces an uphill climb to crack the Opening Day roster.
The Mets do not have many slots available, particularly if they want to keep Stephen Nogosek (who is out of options) and Rule 5 pick Zach Greene.
Curtiss, who has bounced from the Twins to the Angels to the Phillies to the Rays to the Marlins to the Brewers and finally to the Mets, is not trying to gauge whether he has done enough to earn a spot.
“By team No. 7, I don’t play GM anymore,” Curtiss said. “So I’m not too worried about that.”
Mets camp reached its first round of cuts.
Righty José Butto was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. Reassigned to minor league camp were RHP Connor Grey, RHP Grant Hartwig, RHP Eric Orze, LHP Josh Walker, C Kevin Parada and OF Alex Ramírez.
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