New York Mets fifth starter Chris Capuano impresses Terry Collins in Port St. Lucie vs. Nationals

BY ANDY MARTINOrebuilding champions

Sunday, March 20, 2011

PORT ST. LUCIE – Because of split-squad games and other quirks of scheduling, Terry Collins had not seen his fifth starter, Chris Capuano, in a Grapefruit League game before Saturday. The lefthander’s first impression was a good one.

Facing Washington, Capuano allowed three hits, struck out five and walked none in 5-2/3 scoreless innings. Recovering from 2008 Tommy John surgery and lingering arm issues, Capuano said, “This is as good as I have felt in three or four years. Physically, it’s nice to be able to just focus on the baseball part of the game and not worry about the outside of it.”

Still, he is not quite ready for the season. “I need to get that pitch count up in the 100-110 range,” said Capuano, who threw 78 pitches Saturday. “That’s the biggest thing – get that stamina up. I’m glad to have a couple more (games) to try to do that. You’re not always going to have quick games and low pitch counts.”

Collins was impressed. “That’s as advertised, from what I heard,” the manager said. “Down in the zone, strike, strike, strike. Every pitch, all pitches – in, out, up, down. Tremendous concentration, real game plan going in and it doesn’t stop.