FT. MYERS, Fla. -- Seth Lugo looked like a big leaguer. He threw most of his pitches out over the plate like a big leaguer and he controlled the pace of the game like a big leaguer.
But there's still a chance that he starts the season in the minor leagues.
Manager Terry Collins has said that the No. 5 starter role is an open competition and he expects Lugo and Robert Gsellman to compete with Zack Wheeler. But after the Mets' 3-2 win over the Red Sox on Friday, Collin also said that pitchers six and seven aren't necessarily guaranteed a spot on the major league roster.
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"I don't know who it will be, but we've got to have somebody in Triple-A that we know we can go get in case somebody goes down," Collins said. "I don't have any names for you, but certainly we've just got to make sure we've got some backups."
So how did Lugo look in his first start? He did enough... For now, at least.
Lugo threw two hitless innings, striking out three and walking two, in a performance that satisfied his manager and his catcher. He threw all of his pitches for strikes, except his curveball, which he had attempted to sharpen up in the offseason.
Lugo was somewhat frustrated with his inability to locate his curveball, but noted that it's still a work in progress. It was a pitch he fooled around with it early and in different counts, as you tend to do in early spring training games.
"I tried to throw a few and I tried throw a couple early," Lugo said. "I just wanted to mix it in there and see if I could get it where I wanted, but I still need a little more work on it."
But he still needs to locate it, Collins said.
"You've got to be able to command it," Collins said. "You've got to be able to throw it for a strike and throw it out of the strike zone. When you've got that kind of curveball, the one thing you don't want to do is just let it hang in the zone, you've got to be able to get it out of there once in a while. So, we've got a long way to go. But he threw the ball very well."
Lugo will now start for Team Puerto Rico in their World Baseball Classic opener against Team Venezuela. It's a tough lineup and he's excited for the challenge.
But his head is still firmly with the Mets, as he looks to build off this performance and compete for the fifth spot.
"I was just trying to work on pitching," Lugo said. "Trying to go in there with no expectations. That's the best way to keep it simple. Just trying to feel everything out."
Abbey Mastracco may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @abbeymastracco. Find NJ.com on Facebook.
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