Closer Valverde makes it 'exciting' in ninth

April, 9, 2014
ATLANTA -- Assuming his performance warrants, Jose Valverde is the closer for the season with the Mets, with Bobby Parnell having undergone season-ending Tommy John surgery.

Valverde made it an adventure Tuesday, loading the bases in the ninth before completing the shutout in the Mets’ 4-0 win against the Atlanta Braves.

Adam RubinJose Valverde insists he would be happy with any role.

“I feel bad for Parnell,” Valverde said postgame. “I’ve been doing this for a long time. I want to support my teammates. It doesn’t matter where I pitch – starter, long reliever, I don’t care. I want Parnell to be ready for next year and take the job again. That’s what I want.”

The final out Tuesday: a long flyout to center by Jason Heyward that for a moment seemed like it might be a game-tying grand slam.

Not that the easygoing Valverde suggested he had any concern.

“It’s a big fly,” Valverde said. “This is a big stadium. I have a good center fielder, [Juan] Lagares. He can catch everything.”

Concluded Terry Collins: “Exciting ninth inning, but we won.”

Three imports combined on Tuesday’s eight-hit shutout.

After Bartolo Colon tossed seven scoreless innings, Kyle Farnsworth tossed a perfect eighth before handing the ball to Valverde for the ninth.

Farnsworth might be the biggest surprise. He had been released with a week to go in spring training and then re-signed. And he had been ticketed for Triple-A Las Vegas until Parnell’s elbow injury.

“Each and every time I think his velocity has crept up,” Collins said. “And we know he throws strikes. He’s not intimidated by stuff.”

Said Farnsworth: “I’m just trying to go out there and keep the same mindset I’ve had in the years’ past -- just go out there and have competitive pitches and attack the strike zone. … I really don’t try to pay attention to velocity as long as I get people out.”

Valverde actually was the kid among the pitchers Tuesday.

Colon is 40. Farnsworth turns 38 next Monday.

“Holy cow? 40,” Valverde playfully asked about Colon. “How old is the other guy?”

Told Farnsworth is 37, Valverde repeated, “37?”

Valverde then added: “Me what? 34?”

Actually, 36. But, like the ninth inning, close enough.

Adam Rubin

ESPN Staff Writer
Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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