FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In just a few days' time, the gaggle of candidates the Mets have at second base could be trimmed.

"That's a possibility, yeah," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Wednesday after a 4-3 loss to the Twins. "[The competition is] more or less status quo, I don't think anybody has broken away from the pack. One would like to see some separation, but maybe we'll see that in the next few days."

For Alderson, the hoopla surrounding the five-way competition at second base -- and in particular Luis Castillo -- has been a little puzzling. That goes for the attention paid to left-hander Oliver Perez, too. Alderson acknowledged that Castillo and Perez are of particular interest to fans because of their spotty tenure in New York, but he said he's still committed to giving both a fair chance.

"It's a little odd," Alderson said. "I think it does distract one from taking a look at this team as a whole and having a little more balanced view of this team as a whole ... I think there has been a lot of focus on second base, maybe to the exclusion of some other things. I wouldn't say there's anything else you should be watching, [maybe] something else you might write about."

Alderson was in the Dominican Republic on Tuesday, so he didn't get a chance to watch Perez's two-thirds of an inning against the Nationals.

"He's no longer competing for a starting job," Alderson said, "but left-handed relief is still a very legitimate possibility for him."

As for Castillo, he started at second on Wednesday alongside Jose Reyes and David Wright, the regular left side of the infield, and went 1-for-3. Castillo struck out looking in his first at-bat, but he also took the at-bat long enough that Reyes could steal.

"Luis, some of the things that he does are some of the things that we hope to do as a team," Alderson said. "He often has great at-bats. You saw today, even striking out in the first inning, he gave Jose an opportunity to run."

Daniel Murphy, Brad Emaus and Justin Turner are battling with Castillo for the second-base job. A late arrival to the mix, Luis Hernandez, was recently reported to be looked at as a favorite, something manager Terry Collins downplayed Tuesday, while speaking highly of Hernandez's defense.

When asked Wednesday how he views second, as a defense- or offense-first position, Alderson gave a one-sentence answer: "I view it as an offensive position if it can be."

And ultimately, Alderson said, the decision at second will be his.

"Obviously, you'd love to have a consensus," Alderson said. "But at some point, who's on the team or not on the team, is probably my decision, with strong input from Terry and the coaches. Scouts who watch us on a daily basis. There'll be plenty of input on that topic."

Mets still hope Beltran ready for opener

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Mets aren't giving up hope that Carlos Beltran can be ready for April 1.

"We're still planning on him being ready for Opening Day," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Wednesday. "We'll see where he is when we get back from this trip. I think probably a good check point would be Friday."

As anticipated, Beltran swung in a batting cage and played catch in the outfield on Wednesday in Port St. Lucie, Fla., while the team played the Twins on the other side of Florida. It was the first time Beltran participated in baseball activities since he was shut down with left knee tendinitis last week.

The Mets remain in Fort Myers to play the Red Sox on Thursday, before returning to Port St. Lucie on Friday.

If Beltran does make it back to Grapefruit League action, it won't so much matter the number of games he plays as how he looks in them, Alderson said. Starting the season on the disabled list also wouldn't necessarily mean being without Beltran for the first two weeks of the season -- a thought Alderson has considered.

"Of course, the other thing to keep in mind is that the DL is backdated at the beginning of the season," Alderson said. "But backdating is also impacted by whether he actually plays ... Those are factors that would perhaps enter into it, but we're not even thinking about that yet."

Either way, the offseason thought that Beltran could be a regular in center for the Mets is a distant memory. "It was unrealistic," Alderson said.

Another rehabbing Met, Johan Santana, also worked out Wednesday, playing catch for the second straight day as he comes back from left knee surgery. In tongue-and-cheek fashion, Alderson refuted a report from earlier in the week that the Mets were worried Santana would not be able to pitch this season.

Said Alderson, "Has the mythology continued to grow around Johan or are we back to sort of a reality mode here?"

Pelfrey happy with arm strength

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins had nine hits in five innings against Mets' Opening Day starter Mike Pelfrey on Wednesday. That's nearly five times as many good sliders as Pelfrey thought he threw: two.

"Secondary stuff wasn't very good today," Pelfrey said after the Mets' 4-3 loss. "I even felt it on my own a couple times that I slowed down -- I'm sure they picked that up. Besides that, I thought it was OK. And I didn't walk anybody, which is one thing that drives me nuts, especially in Spring Training."

Pelfrey's final line included one strikeout and three runs allowed, one of those on a sinker that Denard Span hit off the foul pole in right field for a solo shot.

The radar reading at Hammond Stadium was a little screwy, showing Pelfrey at 43 MPH the one time he looked. He felt his velocity was closer to the 89-91 range, just shy of where he said he wants to be by the regular season, 92-93. But, he said his arm strength has nonetheless come a long way since the start of spring, when he could barely throw the ball 150 feet. Now he's reaching nearly 340.

Opening Day might be what Pelfrey needs when it comes to his velocity. He even tried the old get-angry trick on Wednesday, to no avail.

"Another thing about it is that when you get under the lights, you also get that adrenaline," Pelfrey said. "There's not a whole lot of adrenaline in Spring Training, for whatever reason. You're going into the game, and I even tried to get mad out there, trying to make myself mad and trying to get more adrenaline. Wasn't very successful."

Worth noting

Right-hander Dillon Gee allowed one hit in five innings during a Minor League game against the Astros on Wednesday. He struck out three and walked one. ... Catcher Ronny Paulino went 0-for-2 with a pair of walks and a run scored in the same game. It was Paulino's first game action since reporting to camp late because of visa issues. ... Daniel Murphy will start at second base on Thursday against the Red Sox, while Brad Emaus will DH, manager Terry Collins said. Both are competing for the second-base job. ... Angel Pagan was not supposed to be the starting center fielder Wednesday. He wasn't supposed to be in Fort Myers at all until Thursday, but when he made the trip, Collins decided to play him. "I had messed up the bus trips," Collins said. "And I forgot to tell him that you didn't need to come today."