All teams have a variety of different roster spots open for the taking in Spring Training. So what should we be watching in Port St. Lucie with the Mets? (And if you’re watching on SNY, the games will be in HD this year!)
Keeping players healthy is definitely number one. This includes building up arm strength and recovering from an injury that ended last season, or simply not getting hurt. Jason Bay, Francisco Rodriguez and Daniel Murphy ended up the season on the disabled list. The primary goal from them is to get to Opening Day without experiencing any pain or lingering effects of what ailed them last year. Bay and Rodriguez have both been reported healthy and pain free, but it’ll be good to show that in real spring training games. Daniel Murphy has had some knee issues, and the best shot he has at winning a job this season is to not be hampered by lingering pain that prevents him from putting in the work both at second base, and at the plate, that he needs.
Some guys have been injured frequently, to various degrees, and may be at risk again. Chris Young, Chris Capuano, Carlos Beltran are three of the most recent cases. Beltran has mainly been dealing with one issue, a lack of cartilage in his knee, and may have that under control via an understanding of what ails him, and a knee brace that keeps his knee bones from bruising further. Beltran’s goal this spring is to prove the brace hasn’t reduced his range significantly in center field, and to get the reps at the plate he needs to keep up to speed without needlessly stressing his knee in exhibition games.
Young and Capuano have more to prove if they want to earn a spot on this team and continue contributing for the entire season. Consistent starts this spring with no reports of pain or soreness would go a long way to giving us confidence that can give us some quality innings.
Jose Reyes often gets mentioned in the injury discussion, but really he was healthy for most of 2011. He had a medical condition that had him almost literally rolling out of bed and into the field in April, and had a slight oblique strain mid-season that was so poorly managed by the Mets and their manager that it probably cost him twice as many games as it needed to. Players get nicked u, and an oblique strain isn’t something to worry about. Given these parameters, it seems like 2010 is the absolute floor of what we can expect out of Reyes for any given season, and given a full spring worth of preparation it’s not unfair to expect him to be much better again.
The results may not matter, but it’s still fun to watch some of the best in the game play. The Mets have a nice core of excellent players. David Wright and Jason Bay can launch home runs and bash the ball all over the place. Jose Reyes can run wild and be his energetic, fun to watch self. Carlos Beltran may go back to making difficult defensive plays look easy while blasting home runs.
While maybe not on the same level, yet, many other players that have jobs secured are fun to watch. Ike Davis has some great power and is maturing as a hitter. R.A. Dickey is an amazing guy and watching him taunt hitters with the knuckleball is always fun. Jon Niese progressing with his devastating curveball or Bobby Parnell blowing guys away with his occasionally triple digit fastball will make highlights reels all spring long.
Rounding Out the Roster
Which guys will make the team seemingly out of nowhere? Who will have a monster spring and launch themselves into the conversation for 5th starter, or long reliever, or first pinch hitter off the bench? A lot of the bullpen is open for guys looking to have a strong showing. Beyond second base that has a couple of favorites, but is an open competition, there are a couple of different ways the Mets could fill out the extra bench spots. Could it be Nick Evans? Or Scott Hairston? What about Jason Pridie or Justin Turner?
What’s more exciting than seeing what may be on tap for the years to come? Jenrry Mejia make a lot of noise last spring, enough that he mistakenly got a roster spot in the bullpen. He’ll be exciting to watch this year to see how’s he progressed and if he’s someone we can look forward to in the future. You’ve got some possible outfielders that look exciting, like Lucas Duda or Kirk Nieuwenhuis.
Besides the games finally being in high definition, Gary, Keith, Ron, and Kevin are a joy to listen to do a game. Just like Spring Training is a little more lax than the regular season, so are the broadcasts. Obviously most of us don’t have the opportunity to listen to them live, because most games are on at 1pm, but if you do get a chance it’s well worth it.
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