PORT LUCIE, Fla. (AP) - New York Mets closer Bobby Parnell threw batting practice Saturday, facing batters for the first time since his 2013 season was cut short by a neck injury.
Parnell last pitched in a game on July 30. He missed the final two months of the season and had surgery Sept. 10 to repair a herniated disc in his neck. The right-hander threw 36 pitches to David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Eric Young Jr.
''You work all offseason throwing bullpens with no batters in there and it seems like you can't miss a spot,'' Parnell said. ''You throw a hitter in there and it becomes 100 times harder. It feels good to get out there and face some guys, face some hitters and find the strike zone with some intensity turned up. It was a nice feeling today.''
Parnell said he was able to keep the ball down and didn't feel any discomfort in his neck or right arm.
''I've been taking a lot of baby steps,'' he said. ''I feel great, my arm feels good, neck feels good. Everything's going well. But as far as today, this feels like a big mental hurdle. I didn't know how I would react to balls coming off the bat and I felt strong out there. I felt good and felt like I had some reaction in the neck, so everything's good.''
The Mets are being cautious with Parnell, but he is currently scheduled to throw a second batting practice on Tuesday.
He said he'll throw at least one more batting practice session before getting into a game.