Valentin among seven cut by Mets
Veteran second baseman hopes to catch on with another team
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The composition of the Mets' Opening Day roster came into somewhat sharper focus Friday night, when the club removed seven players from its Spring Training roster.
Ron Villone, the left-handed reliever who was a late arrival to camp, was released. Jose Valentin, Nelson Figueroa, Rene Rivera and Andy Green were reassigned to Minor League camp, and Carlos Muniz and Cory Sullivan were optioned to the club's Triple-A affiliate.
The moves appear to indicate Jeremy Reed is the No. 5 outfielder, behind Fernando Tatis and the three regulars, and that the club will begin the season with one left-handed reliever, Pedro Feliciano.
Bobby Parnell is expected to be a member of the revamped bullpen, leaving two vacancies and four candidates: Brian Stokes, who has no options remaining; Rule 5 draftee Darren O'Day; Fernando Nieve, the pitcher the Mets claimed off waivers from the Astros; and Elmer Dessens, who appears to be the least likely of the four.
None of the moves was unexpected.
The day the Mets signed Alex Cora, Valentin thought, "my shot was kinda short." Valentin, 39, played beyond his own expectations, to a level that prompted Jerry Manuel to say, "He's got a lot of baseball left." That made the Mets' decision more difficult to accept, though he expected it.
Valentin was sad, and his eyes appeared moist as he explained his plans. The Mets want him to serve as a player-coach at the Triple-A level, a position he once thought he could accept. But not yet.
"I don't think I can be both, when I know I can still play," Valentin said. "After 15 years, I don't think I have anything to prove. I don't think I can hold on all year waiting for something to happen [an injury on the Major League level]. I hold my head up. My career has been good enough."
He said he would have his agent contact other clubs.
"I wasn't just playing for the Mets, I was playing for 29 other teams," Valentin said. "Maybe they saw something."
Villone, also 39, may be in similar circumstances, though he hadn't pitched effectively. He allowed run-scoring extra-base hits to left-handed hitters in his most recent outing.
Muniz had put himself in contention for a spot on the 25-man roster by developing a split-finger fastball, which could have enabled to him to serve as a crossover pitcher if no left-handed relievers were on the roster. But his other pitches weren't effective enough, the club thought, and the split-finger was still in its formative stage.
Figueroa appeared to have a roster chance after he had pitched well in the World Baseball Classic and after Tim Redding's shoulder betrayed him. But Figueroa's pitching since his return was unimpressive. Sullivan's bat slowed down after he hit at a torrid pace in early exhibition games. And neither Rivera nor Green figured to be on the roster at any time.
And as scant a chance as Green had, it was diminished by the late emergence of Jonathan Malo, a 25-year-old Canadian-born second baseman who has impressed Manuel to such a degree that the manager has told people in the organization that Malo is among his favorites among the possible reserves. But there seems to be no place for Malo on the roster.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.