JUPITER, Fla. -- Jason Isringhausen's brief health scare appears to have passed.
Three days after receiving a dose of anti-inflammatory medicine for his cranky right elbow, Isringhausen threw a full bullpen session at the Mets' Spring Training complex on Wednesday, featuring what pitching coach Dan Warthen called the right-hander's best fastball of the spring.
"Exceptional" was how Warthen described the session. "The hardest I've seen him throw, and all of the other pitches were in order -- two-seamer, cutter, fastball. The ball was jumping out of his hand today."
Isringhausen will throw again on Friday in a Minor League game before making his next Grapefruit League appearance on Sunday. Assuming he remains healthy for the next eight days, Isringhausen will then break camp with the club, giving the Mets another right-handed option to join Bobby Parnell in the late innings.
Considering the 38-year-old Isringhausen has not thrown a Major League pitch since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2009, that much is significant.
"This is the first time I've ever known him, but everybody who talks about him says we shouldn't be surprised," Warthen said. "This guy is the ultimate gamer and competitor. I don't think he would come back if he didn't feel he could do it."
Even so, health will always be an issue for Isringhausen, given both his age and lengthy injury history.
"It's just part of dealing with an elbow that's been surgically repaired however many times," Isringhausen said. "I know if I go out there, as soon as I get on the mound, one pitch, something can pop. Everybody should know that."
Cautious optimism Beltran can break camp
JUPITER, Fla. -- Even as they continue to plan for his absence, the Mets are holding out hope that outfielder Carlos Beltran will be ready for Opening Day.
Beltran and manager Terry Collins met on Wednesday morning, mapping out a schedule that will have Beltran fully participating in games by this weekend and breaking camp with the Mets thereafter.
"At this point, assuming everything goes well over the next eight days, he's on track," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "He's still on track for Opening Day."
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"I still believe he's going to be ready," Collins added.
Even so, Alderson noted that the schedule is "flexible," providing leeway in the event that Beltran's knees don't respond. For the second time in as many days, Beltran took left-handed at-bats in Minor League games as a designated hitter on Wednesday, giving way for a pinch-runner to ease the strain on his knees. He finished 0-for-5. The next step is running the bases, followed by full outfield play.
Beltran, who is wearing a hard base on his surgically repaired right knee, received a cortisone shot last week to reduce inflammation in the left one.
The current blueprint has Beltran playing right field in Grapefruit League games this weekend, before ultimately breaking camp with the Mets in eight days. But if there are any indications that Beltran won't be ready, the Mets will change the plan, confining him to Minor League play. As long as Beltran does not appear in a Major League game, the Mets can backdate a potential stint on the disabled list to the maximum extent, allowing him to return as soon as the fourth game of the regular season.
"We'll see," Alderson said. "In some sense, he just needs game time. Whether that's playing in a Double-A game or a Major League game probably doesn't make that much difference."
Child's birth won't alter Dickey's schedule
JUPITER, Fla. -- Though he has three children already, only once has R.A. Dickey been present to witness the birth of one -- a typical story for professional ballplayers. On one of the other two occasions, Dickey recalls listening as his new child entered the world, wailing through the phone line.
This time will be different. Dickey will fly home on Thursday to be with his wife, Anne, whose labor will be induced the following day. After helping with the birth of his fourth child, Dickey will then fly back in time for his next and final Grapefruit League start on Monday.
For Dickey, that outing should be nothing more than a tune-up. After holding the Cardinals to two runs (one earned) over 5 1/3 innings in Wednesday's 5-3 Mets loss, Dickey -- at the age of 36 -- is now prepared to begin his first full season in the big leagues.
"Any time you see a lot of swings and misses, which is what I got a lot of today, that translates," Dickey said after his start on Wednesday. "I feel like I'm right where I need to be."
Fighting for a spot in the Mets' bullpen, Manny Acosta served up a three-run homer to Allen Craig in the seventh inning on Wednesday. Acosta, who is out of Minor League options, is battling Rule 5 pick Pedro Beato and several others for one open spot in the 'pen. ... Several Mets were pleased upon hearing reports that former teammate Oliver Perez had found a new home with the Nationals. "I'm not surprised he got a shot, and I wish him all the luck," manager Terry Collins said.