STL@NYM: Bones on coaching for Puerto Rico, Mets 'pen

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Calling his time at the World Baseball Classic "a heck of an experience," Mets bullpen coach Ricky Bones hopes Team Puerto Rico will be able to parlay its Classic success into increased interest in Puerto Rican baseball.

"It was awesome," Bones said after serving as the pitching coach for Puerto Rico, which advanced to Tuesday's final at AT&T Park but fell to the Dominican Republic, 3-0. "All in all, it was a great show, and even better that our guys were able to play up to their potential. They were able to execute and take us all the way to the finals. That was excellent."

Though Puerto Rico fell short of the title, Bones hopes his country's underdog run will rekindle local interest in the sport. The legendary Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente has battled declining attendance and revenues in recent years, due in part to increased interest in other sports such as basketball.

Puerto Rico's Classic run can only help return some attention to baseball.

"Anybody can say it was disappointing when you come in second place," Bones said. "But overall, it was great. It was a great experience. We weren't expected to go that far. Talent-wise, we were maybe second. But everybody performed to their potential, to the max, and we were able to take it all the way to the finals. It was excellent. There's no other way to describe it."

Precautionary injection nothing new for Marcum

WSH@NYM: Marcum tosses two frames in spring debut

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Returning to camp on Thursday after a brief stay in New York, Mets right-hander Shaun Marcum insisted that the cortisone shot he received in his right shoulder was nothing more than a precaution.

"I feel like it's part of my Spring Training routine," Marcum said, noting that he received similar injections the past three springs. "It's precautionary to make sure everything's OK. I told [manager] Terry [Collins] and [general manager] Sandy [Alderson] I'd rather miss three days of Spring Training than miss a week or two during the season."

Marcum first approached Mets trainers about his shoulder when he noticed his velocity lacking in Saturday's start against the Marlins. Because he was already scheduled to fly to New York on his off-day to search for a place to live, Marcum met with team orthopedist David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Altchek administered an MRI exam, which revealed no structural damage. But Marcum still received a cortisone injection for what the Mets called an impingement in his shoulder.

The right-hander classified his shoulder discomfort as "pretty much the same issue" that sidelined him for three weeks last spring, but he stopped short of calling it painful.

"As far as pain, not really," Marcum said. "Stiffness, not really. My shoulder flexibility, range of motion, I was a little tighter than I had been prior to that. It's just something we decided to get checked out."

Marcum insisted that the issue will not prevent him from opening the season in the rotation, tentatively debuting in the Mets' second game, against the Padres at Citi Field on April 3.

"I feel strong," Marcum said. "I do. It's just something that, looking back at my last start, my velocity was down a little bit. I said something to the trainers. They really didn't even want to do the injection. I had to talk them into it."

Turner's sprints a good sign for Mets

MIA@NYM: Turner leaves with sprained ankle in fourth

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- If Justin Turner had any lingering doubts as to the health of his right ankle, he squelched them in a series of three quick sprints on Thursday afternoon.

First, Turner doubled in one of his three at-bats in a Minor League game. Then he scored from second on a single in the same game. Then, after reporting back to the big league clubhouse and asking for an at-bat, he singled and went first-to-third on Marlon Byrd's hit.

"Everything feels pretty good," Turner said of his ankle, which he sprained while playing third base last weekend.

That's good news for the Mets, who tentatively plan to slot Turner into their Opening Day lineup. If David Wright is not fully healed from his strained left intercostal muscle by April 1, Turner is the leading candidate to start at third. More likely, Turner will play second base in place of Daniel Murphy, who is battling a straight right intercostal.

"Like I've said all along, I've played the majority of my games at second base, so that's a pretty easy transition to go back over there," Turner said. "Now, I've got a lot of games under my belt at third base, too, so I feel pretty comfortable at either one."