PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- With the Mets fretting over the state of their starting rotation, right-hander Shaun Marcum assured them he will be ready for the regular season.
"I didn't sign here to come on the DL," Marcum said. "I'll find a way to pitch."
With that in mind, the Mets officially announced their rotation order Wednesday evening. Jon Niese will pitch Opening Day, followed by Matt Harvey, Dillon Gee and Jeremy Hefner. After Niese returns to pitch Game 5 on regular rest, Marcum will make his debut April 7 against the Marlins.
The Mets were not optimistic of that alignment when Marcum abandoned his routine bullpen session on Monday, complaining of neck pain so severe that he could not turn his head. At the time, Marcum said, his thoughts drifted to Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter, whose thoracic outlet syndrome led to what appears to be impending retirement.
"I wanted to make sure I'm 100 percent healthy, because it's a game -- I'm not going to play it forever," Marcum said. "I've got to worry about my life after baseball too. It was definitely a concern, but now that I'm feeling better I don't think it's that big a deal."
Marcum had yet to see a doctor as of Wednesday afternoon, but said a regimen of anti-inflammatory medicine had him feeling "a lot better." The Mets expect him to throw a bullpen session Saturday and make some sort of Minor League or simulated start on Tuesday, lining him up for the sixth game of the season.
"The main thing," Marcum said, "is that I'm feeling better and we're heading in the right direction."
Murphy likely to be ready by Opening Day
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Once considered a long shot for Opening Day, second baseman Daniel Murphy is now a strong bet to suit up Monday for the Mets at Citi Field.
Assuming Murphy feels no pain in his right intercostal muscle when he awakes Thursday morning, the Mets will start him at second base for their next Grapefruit League game against the Nationals. That is telling, considering manager Terry Collins made it clear he would not use Murphy in an official game unless he was sure the second baseman would be healthy for Opening Day.
"It's significant for me because I feel like I can help this team win," Murphy said. "That's why I want to be out there. I didn't want to risk anything long-term making sure I got to Opening Day, but that has always been a goal, is to be ready."
Though Murphy's exact plan is flexible, he hopes to log a heavy Grapefruit League workload this week to fine-tune his timing against Major League pitching. Last weekend, after appearing in a Minor League game, Murphy joked that the ball looked like an aspirin. This week, he said, "it looks like a golf ball."
"So we're getting closer," Murphy said, laughing.
It now seems possible that the Mets could pencil both Murphy and third baseman David Wright into their Opening Day lineup. Wright took batting practice again Wednesday, and expects to play in another Minor League game on Friday. He could also return to Grapefruit League play this weekend, though Wright does not consider that necessary to be ready for Opening Day.
Turner exits game with strained left calf
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Yet another injury struck the Mets on Wednesday, when Justin Turner left in the fourth inning of a game against the Astros with a strained left calf.
Turner said his leg "just cramped up" in the top of the second inning, when he pushed off it in pursuit of a foul ball. He felt another twinge in the bottom of the inning, running to first on a routine grounder, but played one more inning before alerting trainers of the pain.
"It's not really sore to walk around or stretch or anything," Turner said. "It's more sore to touch. Hopefully I'll just get in and get all the treatment I need, take whatever pills they have for me, and get this thing calmed down in a day or two."
Turner missed time earlier this spring with a sprained right ankle, and said he may have caused this latest injury by overcompensating.
"I don't know 100 percent," Turner said, "but I would bet that that has a little bit to do with it."
Asked his concern level regarding Turner's status, manager Terry Collins replied: "none."
Should Turner not be ready for some reason, the Mets would almost certainly carry infielder Omar Quintanilla on the roster to replace him. The team currently appears to be deciding between Quintanilla, an extra infielder, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, an extra outfielder; Turner's injury could take that decision out of their hands.
Feliciano headed to Minors to 'get strong'
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Pedro Feliciano summed his decision to stick with the Mets on a Minor League deal in two words: "Why not?"
"I'm going to prove that I can do it," he said.
Though Feliciano pitched to a 2.08 ERA this spring, the Mets were wary of the lack of arm strength he demonstrated throughout the Grapefruit League season. That manifested itself most tangibly in the left-hander's fastball velocity, which never rose above the mid-80s. But manager Terry Collins said he was even more concerned with Feliciano's decreasing effectiveness pitching multiple days in a row.
"They just want me to be consistent," Feliciano said. "On back-to-back-to-back days, how am I going to react?"
Due to that uncertainty, the Mets told Feliciano earlier this week that they will not carry him on the Opening Day roster -- a move that cost the left-hander a guaranteed $1 million plus incentives. He will instead open the season pitching for Class A St. Lucie of the Florida State League, until he proves consistent enough for the Mets to add him to their Major League bullpen.
"If it's going to be two weeks, three weeks, a month, who knows?" Feliciano said. "I'm just going to do my job and get strong."
• Right-hander Jeremy Hefner said he felt well enough to throw on Wednesday, a day after taking a Carlos Beltran comebacker off his left elbow, but that the Mets have shut him down for three days. Once he is cleared to return to the mound, Hefner said, he will be "good to go." He is officially scheduled to start the Mets' fourth game of the season on April 5.
• Needing to clear 40-man roster space, the Mets on Wednesday traded right-handed Elvin Ramirez to the Angels for cash considerations. With the roster at 38 players, the Mets will need to clear one more spot to accommodate non-roster invitees Marlon Byrd, Scott Atchison and LaTroy Hawkins.
• Reliever Josh Edgin and his wife welcomed their first child, Turner Dewitt Edgin, into the world on Tuesday evening. Edgin tweeted that his family's new addition weighed seven pounds, 10 ounces, and that wife and baby were doing well.
• Right-hander Matt Harvey celebrated his 24th birthday on Wednesday. Outfield prospect Brandon Nimmo turned 20.