MIAMI (AP) -Mike Pelfrey walked slowly into manager Willie Randolph's office Sunday morning, knowing the moment of truth had finally arrived.
Exactly one minute later, Pelfrey walked out with a spot in the New York Mets' rotation.
The Mets made Pelfrey their fifth starter as they finalized their 25-man opening-day roster. He had some rocky moments in spring training, but showed Randolph enough to get the spot.
``He's a big, strong kid and has a bright future ahead of him,'' Randolph said. ``It's time for him to step up and really get his career going. He'll get an opportunity to do that and I have confidence in him. He's got great stuff. He's had a nice spring, he really has. He's had a couple bumps and bruises there, but that's spring training for everyone.''
The move means right-hander Orlando Hernandez, who has been bothered by a foot issue, will start the season on the 15-day disabled list. El Duque and Pelfrey were competing for the final rotation spot, which will come into play for the first time Saturday when the Mets visit Atlanta.
Hernandez was one of the Mets' most consistent starters last season, going 9-5 with a 3.72 ERA in 147 2-3 innings. But his right foot bothered him last year and limited him to two starts this spring, so staying behind in Florida now gives him a chance to build up arm strength.
``I feel that I can pitch in the major leagues right now, but it's better to take two or three more starts in the minor leagues so I can stay more comfortable with my foot,'' Hernandez said. ``It's OK. It's good, not just for me. I think it's better for the team, which is the more important point.''
Hernandez had a 6.75 ERA in two starts spanning eight innings this spring. Hardly impressive, but Pelfrey's numbers were even worse - 0-2 with an 8.14 ERA in 21 innings, during which he allowed 35 hits and 10 walks while striking out only eight.
``Going into it, I thought if he was healthy, it was going to be him,'' Pelfrey said. ``The results, I don't think they always tell everything. I think I've gotten better this spring and I think I'm headed in the right direction. By giving me the fifth start, that shows they have faith in me, they believe in me, I have faith in myself and I feel like I'm going to have a good year.''
Pelfrey doesn't look at it as him holding down the spot until El Duque is healthy enough to join the club.
``They'll find a way to keep me around, somehow, if I'm performing,'' Pelfrey said.
In other moves, the Mets selected the contracts of catcher Raul Casanova and outfielder Brady Clark, adding them to the 25-man roster. Clark's locker had a No. 93 jersey in it Sunday; he'll start wearing No. 44 on Monday.
``I just came in and took it as an opportunity to go out and play, and thankfully I got an opportunity to go out and play,'' Clark said.
Joe Smith made the team in the bullpen, beating out right-hander Brian Stokes, who was designated for assignment.
``I'm excited and I'm ready to get going,'' said Smith, who couldn't fall asleep until after 3 a.m. Sunday because of the uncertainty over his roster spot. ``I knew I was a bubble guy coming in.''
Utilityman Fernando Tatis, left-hander Ricardo Rincon and right-hander Nelson Figueroa were sent to minor league camp.
``It's about putting the best guys out there that match up with what we want to do at the time,'' Randolph said. ``That's really what it boils down to.''
The Mets open the season Monday at the Florida Marlins.

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