PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — Cross another last off the list for Bobby Cox.
Atlanta’s longtime manager got two scoreless innings from Tommy Hanson, but the New York Mets spoiled Cox’s last spring training opener with a 4-2 victory over the Braves on Tuesday.
Cox announced last September that he plans to retire after his 21st consecutive season in Atlanta’s dugout — the longest tenure of any active manager — and 25th overall. He has agreed to serve as a consultant for the team after he steps down.
On a damp day in Florida, the 68-year-old Cox seemed happy to be off and running with another round of spring games.
“Just getting ready,” he said. “It’s business as usual and nothing has changed. I don’t look at it that way. It’ll hit me the last week or so.”
New York, which was riddled by injuries last year, scratched Jose Reyes and all of their regulars from the lineup when morning showers drenched the field.
“When it rains like that and wind and (the) forecast is this and that, I just feel it wasn’t necessary to do,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said.
Jason Pridie, Jesus Feliciano and Ruben Tejada each drove in a run in the fifth inning for New York, which is scheduled to play Atlanta in Kissimmee on Wednesday. Russ Adams homered in the eighth.
Hanson allowed a leadoff single to Feliciano before retiring six straight batters. The right-hander struck out three.
“That was definitely a confidence booster out there today,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I didn’t expect to throw that well, but it went better than planned.”
Hanson went 11-4 with a 2.89 ERA in 21 starts last year as a rookie, despite spending the first month of the season at Triple-A Gwinnett.
Another Braves phenom, Jason Heyward, walked twice, singled and stole a base. Heyward is 20 years old and has never played in the majors, but could be Atlanta’s starting right fielder on opening day.
“He’s got great instincts,” Cox said. “That’s why he’s ahead of the 20-year-olds. He does a lot of other things, other than just hit. He had a great day.”
Manuel took a closer look at three candidates for the eighth-inning role in New York’s bullpen. Bobby Parnell was nicked for a run in two innings, Pedro Feliciano struck out two in a perfect eighth and Ryota Igarashi finished for the save.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Igarashi agreed to a $3 million, two-year contract with New York in December after a long career in Japan.
“Of course, I had some nerves coming in,” he said through an interpreter. “But with the home run that Adams hit there, that gave a little cushion, made me feel a lot more comfortable going in.”