PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -- Mike Pelfrey has had better outings this spring, but never a better day.
The 23-year-old right-hander called his mom, hugged former minor league teammate Mike DiFelice and walked out of the clubhouse with a smile Sunday after New York Mets manager Willie Randolph told him he'd won a spot in the rotation."It's always good to hear, 'Hey, you made the team," said Pelfrey, unable to conceal his smile. "I've still got a lot of work to do and I've got to continue to get better."Pelfrey, the ninth overall pick in the 2005 draft out of Wichita State, allowed four runs and six hits in five innings of an 11-3 loss to the Houston Astros. But he pitched well throughout spring training, and that was enough to win a job in New York's suspect rotation."He's matured," Randolph said. "You can see where he's learned a lot from last spring. Obviously, he has good stuff, but he's worked hard to execute, for the most part, what we wanted him to do this spring."Randolph announced that John Maine, Oliver Perez and Pelfrey will fill out the three remaining spots in the rotation behind Tom Glavine and Orlando Hernandez, though the manager did not say what the order would be to start the season.Maine and Perez had long been expected to claim spots.Pelfrey struck out two and walked one, a day after his chief competitor, Chan Ho Park, was moved to the bullpen. Before Sunday's start, Pelfrey had allowed only two earned runs in 14 innings."He's pitched well this spring," Randolph said. "His being added to this is not based on today's performance."Pelfrey threw 84 pitches. He induced eight groundball outs and five flyouts."I feel comfortable and I'm getting better," Pelfrey said. "Every time I go out there, I feel more relaxed."Pelfrey is expected to pitch in another spring training game Saturday.Mets outfielder Lastings Milledge was hit on the right hand by a ninth-inning pitch from Matt Albers and left the game. Tests revealed only a bruise. Milledge was prescribed anti-inflammatory medicine, ice and a few days off.Milledge broke a bone in his hand during spring training in 2004 and missed seven weeks. The touted prospect said he felt a similar pain this time. He was hitting .352 this spring after enduring a difficult 2006 introduction to the big leagues."It's kind of disappointing," Milledge said. "But things like this happen."Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez remained in the game after feeling some discomfort in his left foot. He went three innings, allowing three runs -- two earned -- and four hits. He walked four and struck out two."I struggled with location," Rodriguez said. "My two-seamer wasn't breaking, but my changeup was good and my curveball was good."Mike Lamb went 3-for-4 with three RBI for the Astros.
Plate umpire Dusty Dellinger left the game after being plunked twice. The second time was on the wrist on a pitch by Pelfrey. Park said he was still unhappy about being bumped to the bullpen, but would accept the move if it was best for the team. ... DiFelice was happy to see Pelfrey earn a spot in the rotation. He served as Pelfrey's personal catcher in the minors. "For me it's probably a little bit more personal because we got to work together last year, and I got to see him mature as a pitcher," DiFelice said.