PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -New York Mets pitcher Orlando Hernandez threw five innings in a rehab start for the Class A St. Lucie Mets on Thursday, allowing two runs and striking out six.
Hernandez, who had changed the way he was pushing off to alleviate pressure from a bunion on his foot during spring training, went back to his familiar mechanics and said it felt better. He threw 64 pitches, including 42 strikes.
The right-hander allowed an opposite field solo home run by Vero Beach first baseman Matt Fields.
``It's a little tough, but I think day-to-day, it's getting better,'' he said.
Hernandez used mostly offspeed pitches. But to the veteran, it was just another step toward making sure he can pitch comfortably. He said he didn't get too caught up in the game situations.
``I need to throw,'' Hernandez said. ``I need to work out.''
Hernandez's status matters more to the Mets now that Pedro Martinez is on the disabled list. Hernandez is eligible to come off the disabled list on April 13, but the Mets must use a fifth-starter - probably the recently promoted Nelson Figueroa - for the first time on April 12.
Martinez strained his hamstring on Tuesday night in a start against the Florida Marlins and is likely out four-to-six weeks.
Hernandez could not get ready during spring training after having problems with his right foot. He said he expects to make two more minor league starts before being able to help the team. In two Grapefruit League starts, Hernandez posted a 6.75 ERA over eight innings.
Last season, Hernandez went 9-5 with a 3.72 ERA over 27 games, including 24 starts.

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