New Mets leadoff man Torres likes Niese's slider

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- It's no secret that these Mets need every possible thing to break their way in 2012 if they're going to sustain anybody's interest.

So for a few seconds today, in the midst of their numbing rash of injuries, how about we talk about something that's going well? Lefty Jon Neise's slider.

"I saw him the other day striking guys out with that slider middle-in," says new Mets center fielder Andres Torres. "I told him, 'I'm no pitcher, but that slider is really good."

Torres spent the past three seasons playing for the Giants and, as such, has watched some pretty good pitching lately. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and, in 2009, he saw a certain legend finish his career as a teammate.

"When I played with Randy Johnson in 2009, don't get me wrong, Randy Johnson is Randy Johnson, but Niese's slider kind of reminds me of that," Torres said. "That slider is pretty good. That is a tough pitch to hit."

Of course the best scenario for the Mets would be if Niese's slider was reminiscent of an in-his-prime Big Unit, rather than Johnson at the end of the line. But you've got to start somewhere, and spring is the time for optimism, right?

The 6-5 lefty, 25, has produced a couple of nearly identical seasons over the past two: He went 11-11 with a 4.40 ERA last summer, 11-9 with a 4.20 ERA in 2010. If things go according to plan for the Mets, Niese will line up behind Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey in the Mets' rotation.

Of course, what would a Mets' report be without a dose of bad news? Pelfrey is in a funk this spring and has not looked sharp at all. And against the Astros in Kissimmee on Sunday, he was clobbered for eight hits and eight runs in 2 2/3 innings. One red flag: He walked four and threw one wild pitch.

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