Humber breaks in, then heads to minors camp

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – First-round draft pick Philip Humber broke the seal on his professional career Sunday, firing two scoreless innings in the Mets' 14-5 victory over the Washington Nationals. <P> "An unbelievable feeling," Humber said. "I'll never forget being there for the first time on a Major League mound." (Free Preview of Premium Content)

That was the good news. After the game, Humber learned that the brief taste of a big league mound would have to suffice for the moment, as he was re-assigned to minor league camp.

Though some might expect the 22-year-old former Rice standout to take the demotion with a twinge of disappointment, the move was no surprise. The Mets' starting rotation is secure and, while Humber has impressed coaches and scouts this spring, he acknowledges he needs seasoning before he's ready to set foot into a big league game.

"I don't belong up here," Humber said. "Right now, I need to go down to the minors and pay my dues, and climb the ladder. Hopefully, I'll get back to New York."

Normally a starting pitcher, Humber was told by manager Willie Randolph before Sunday's game that he stood an excellent chance of getting into the action as a reliever.

That became more of a reality as the Mets jumped out to a 6-0 lead after two innings against Washington prospect Mike Hinckley, blowing the game wide open with a seven-run third inning. In the Mets' dugout, Humber found it difficult to control his emotions, pacing around and at one point retreating to Field 2 of the complex to play catch.

"It was hard to sit there and watch," Humber said. "I was amped up from the fourth inning on."

Humber took over the pitching duties from Bartolome Fortunato in the seventh inning and worked his way out of a tight spot, despite not showing the best command of his impressive fastball and curveball. Humber was better in the eighth, finishing up his two innings of work having allowed just a hit and a walk.

"I couldn't feel anything. That's why everything was up high," Humber said. "I was trying to get it down and couldn't do it. [A hit and a walk] isn't too bad. I know I can do it."

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