PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Another rotation injury struck the Mets on Tuesday during an 11-4 loss to the Cardinals at Tradition Field.
Slated to replace Johan Santana in the Opening Day rotation, right-hander Jeremy Hefner departed in the fourth inning after Carlos Beltran struck him with a comebacker. The ball bounced once before striking Hefner on the right elbow; he left the game immediately to receive an X-ray, which was negative. He was diagnosed with a bruised elbow.
Hefner departed with a one-run lead, having allowed a run on five hits up to that point. But the Cardinals jumped all over his replacement, Minor Leaguer Randy Fontanez, who immediately loaded the bases, walked in a run and served up Pete Kozma's grand slam. Fontanez faced seven batters in the fourth and did not retire any of them. After Jon Jay doubled and Matt Carpenter singled home a run, the Mets finally removed Fontanez from the game.
Jay finished 3-for-4 with two singles and a double for the Cards. Yadier Molina added a two-run homer off Chase Huchingson in the seventh.
Mets outfielder Lucas Duda drove in early runs against Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright on his ground-rule double in the first and an RBI single in the third. Following a miserable start to the Grapefruit League season, Duda entered the game batting .316 with three home runs and five RBIs dating back to March 15. Duda added his fifth spring homer, a two-run shot in the seventh.
Wainwright gave up two runs on seven hits over six innings, striking out three and issuing one walk.
"Early I was a little jumpy and I just tried to make adjustments from there," said Wainwright, whose next start will be against the D-backs on Opening Day. "I let it come out naturally. I didn't try to create any extra velocity there. I just tried to pitch. I know when the lights turn on -- the big league excitement -- I'll have to battle that same thing and the ball will probably be coming out a little bit hotter. It was a good practice, really. A good training tool."
Up next: Lefty Jaime Garcia will make his final spring start on Wednesday, when the Cardinals host the Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. First pitch is scheduled for 12:05 p.m. CT on MLB.TV. Lefty reliever Randy Choate is also expected to pitch and is looking to get back on track after a recent string of subpar outings. Choate has not retired a baserunner in his last four appearances.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.