Several things to look for in today’s Mets intrasquad game in Port St. Lucie. You don’t get answers in a game like this, but you can get a first impression or something to build on.
Here’s the players I am interested in and why:
Kirk Nieuwenhuis: Leading off for Team 1. Nieuwenhuis is getting the first chance to win the leadoff job, which is definite hole.
Jordany Valdespin: Playing second base for Team 1 and batting second. Valdespin is ticketed to open the season in the minors, but that could change on how well he plays second base and how Daniel Murphy recovers from a ribcage injury.
Andrew Brown: Playing left field for Team 1. He has a chance to stick as a reserve in the Mets’ undermanned outfield.
Wilmer Flores: A top prospect playing second base for Team 2. Opportunities often come out of injuries and if Murphy’s injury is worse than expected Flores might become an option. Even so, he should see major league time this summer.
Travis d’Arnaud: The catching prospect and key to the R.A. Dickey trade in the eyes of the Mets will be the designated hitter and bat seventh for Team 2. The ceiling is high for him, but he’s coming off knee and back issues.
LaTroy Hawkins: A veteran who is trying to stick in the Mets’ bullpen. At one time Hawkins could deal. The Mets want to know how much he has left.
Greg Burke: A submariner trying to make the bullpen. There will be a huge turnover in the pen and Burke could be a survivor.
Pedro Feliciano: Once a Met stalwart in the pen, the team burned him out and he couldn’t pitch for the Yankees. He’s getting a last chance to salvage his career.
There are others, of course, but these tweak my interest the most.
METS NOTEBOOK: Zack Wheeler gets the ball for tomorrow’s exhibition game against Washington. He’s gotten rave reviews so far, but it has only been batting practice, Barring an injury, Wheeler isn’t expected to make the team coming out of spring training. He has a huge upside, but I hope the Mets don’t rush his as hey did Mike Pelfrey and Jenrry Mejia. … Speaking of Mejia, he’s expected to be a starter in the minor leagues, but some in the organization still see him as a reliever. If that’s his eventual role that’s what he should do now. Stop screwing with this kid’s head. … Dillon Gee gets the ball Sunday against the University of Michigan.