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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. • Moments after Jacob deGrom blew a first-inning fastball by Josh Reddick for a strikeout, he circled the mound and caught a glimpse of the radar reading on the scoreboard: 97 mph.

"Definitely a good feeling," deGrom said.

Making his first start since September's surgery to reposition the ulnar nerve in his right elbow, deGrom worked two perfect innings for the New York Mets on Saturday, striking out two in a 3-1 win over Houston.

More importantly, everything flowed smoothly.

"It's a step in the right direction," he said. "You say you are feeling good in the spring, but then to actually get out there in the game to throw, it definitely feels good to get back out there on the mound."

Seeing that 97 flash on the video board prompted manager Terry Collins to tell pitching coach Dan Warthen they were watching a special spring outing.

"I really think it's important that he go out there and know that his arm is back," Collins said. "We don't put a gun on them in the bullpens. I think when they go back out there they see their velocity's back. I think it's a tremendous confidence builder for them."

After his two-inning stint, deGrom said he felt a sense of relief that he'd cleared another hurdle.

"I get nervous before every start in the season, but not normally that much in spring training," deGrom said. "I think just getting out there and having the adrenaline going like in a game for the first time since surgery, I was a little nervous. I'm glad that I got up there and was able to throw the ball where I wanted to."

The 28-year-old deGrom began the game throwing mostly fastballs before mixing in some curves, changeups and sliders.

Almost everything felt right.

"The only thing I'm not pleased with was a changeup in the dirt, but everything else I pretty much threw where I wanted to," he said.

The 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom became an All-Star in 2015, going 14-8 with a 2.54 ERA and striking out 205. Lat muscle discomfort kept him from feeling right early in the 2016 campaign, ultimately forcing him to the disabled list. The elbow soreness bloomed following his return.

While he wasn't terrible last season, as his 3.04 ERA indicates. He was 7-8 whole making only 24 starts — he was among several Mets pitchers slowed by injuries — and his fastball velocity hovered in the low 90s.

The dip in velocity became a constant topic after his starts.

"You say it doesn't get to you, but if somebody asks you about something enough you're thinking about it," deGrom said.

The lat issue, and the elbow injury led deGrom to alter his mechanics. This spring his first point of emphasis was smoothing out his delivery to keep his shoulder from flying open too early, robbing him of control and accuracy.

"I wasn't worried about his year," deGrom said. "All I wanted to do was be healthy coming into the spring. I definitely feel a lot better than I did last year at this time."

Giants Cueto in camp

Even though he just got to spring training, San Francisco pitcher Johnny Cueto says he's probably ahead of where he normally is in preparing for the season.

"It wasn't like I was in the Dominican just sitting down. I was working really hard because I knew I was missing time. Maybe a little stronger than normal," Cueto said Saturday at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Stadium in his first full day at camp.

The 31-year-old All-Star said he was working out at the Giants' academy in the Dominican Republic. He was given permission by the team to arrive later because he was helping his ailing father, Domingo, who was in the hospital for 10 days earlier this year after suffering what Cueto described Saturday as "pre-stroke" symptoms.

• Giants first base coach Jose Alguacil was taken to a hospital after being hit in the face by a foul ball during a spring training game. Alguacil was sitting in a folding chair outside the dugout when Kansas City's Hunter Dozier checked his swing in the eighth inning and fouled it back. —

Spring training

Saturday's games

Philadelphia 7, Atlanta (ss) 4

Baltimore 1, Tampa Bay 0

Pittsburgh 3, Boston 2

Miami 8, Atlanta (ss) 6

N.Y. Mets 3, Houston 1

N.Y. Yankees 11, Detroit 1

Minnesota 6, Toronto 2

Washington 1, St. Louis 1

Cleveland 15, Oakland 5

Cincinnati 9, Kansas City (ss) 7

Chicago White Sox 10, L.A. Angels 2

Chicago Cubs 9, L.A. Dodgers 3

Kansas City (ss) 2, San Francisco 0

Milwaukee 7, Texas 1

San Diego 6, Arizona 5

Seattle 4, Colorado 3

Sunday's games

Florida games (11:05 a.m. starts unless noted)

Atlanta vs. Boston at Fort Myers

Detroit vs. Philadelphia (ss) at Clearwater

Houston vs. Miami at Jupiter

Minnesota vs. Washington at West Palm Beach

Philadelphia (ss) vs. Baltimore at Sarasota

Pittsburgh vs. N.Y. Yankees at Tampa

Tampa Bay vs. Toronto at Dunedin

St. Louis vs. N.Y. Mets at Port St. Lucie

Arizona games (1:05 p.m. starts unless noted)

Chicago Cubs vs. Texas at Surprise

Colorado vs. Milwaukee at Phoenix

Kansas City vs. San Francisco at Scottsdale

San Diego vs. Cleveland at Goodyear

Seattle (ss) vs. L.A. Dodgers at Glendale

Chicago White Sox vs. Arizona at Scottsdale

Cincinnati vs. L.A. Angels at Tempe

Oakland vs. Seattle (ss) at Peoria