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Slowey's spring off to strong start

Slowey's spring off to strong start

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Right-hander Kevin Slowey's quest to re-create last spring's magic got off to a strong start on Saturday afternoon.

Slowey, 29, who last pitched in a game seven months ago, made his return with two shutout innings against the Mets at Tradition Field.

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"After being hurt last year, this is the day I looked forward to every day of the offseason, knowing that I would get another chance to go out and compete," Slowey said.

Slowey gave up three runs -- two earned -- without recording an out at Coors Field on July 25, 2013. He went on the disabled list on July 27 (retroactive to July 26) with tightness in his right forearm and was transferred to the 60-day DL on Sept. 1.

Last spring, Slowey claimed a spot on the Opening Day roster as a non-roster invitee and took over the rotation's third slot. This spring he is once again a non-roster invitee whose versatility could earn him a job in either the rotation or the bullpen.

On Saturday he needed just 25 pitches (20 of them strikes) to retire six of the seven hitters he faced. He gave up a one-out, first-pitch single to Kirk Nieuwenhuis to left in the first. He struck out four batters, including the side in the second.

His fastball consistently ranged from the high 80s to low 90s, and topped at 91 mph on his fifth pitch.

"I'm thankful that that's there, at least," he said. "Something I can hope to have for the rest of the year."

His ability to attack the strike zone troubled Mets hitters. Chris Young popped out to the catcher in foul territory to lead off the game. Lucas Duda flied out to left to end the first. Slowey's first two strikeouts of the second were looking.

"I've been playing long enough to understand my strengths and weaknesses," Slowey said. "There are a handful of both that I'm pretty aware of. For me, throwing strikes is important, especially commanding the fastball in the zone.

"Coming into today and really early every Spring Training of my career, I've tried to establish my ability to command a fastball for a strike, because my other pitches build off of that."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter Less