PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- In his annual state of the team address on Tuesday, Mets manager Terry Collins confirmed several of the club's widely understood roster assumptions.
Center fielder Andres Torres will almost certainly open the year as the leadoff man, Collins said. Barring injury, Daniel Murphy will be the team's starting second baseman. Several spots at the back end of the bullpen are up for grabs, as well as the fifth outfielder's job and the backup catcher position.
In the outfield, left-handed hitters Mike Baxter and Adam Loewen will battle for one open spot. Behind the plate, the defensive-minded Mike Nickeas will attempt to hold off challengers Rob Johnson and Lucas May.
"We're going to have some fun trying to make those decisions," Collins said.
Collins ever the optimist at Mets camp
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets manager Terry Collins typically arrives at the team's Spring Training complex by 4:30 ET every morning, so that he can finish a 90-minute workout before the first players begin trickling in.
"I don't want anybody in that clubhouse when I'm not here," Collins said.
Such is dedication in its most visible form. If there is a criticism of Collins through one season with the Mets, it is that he is almost too optimistic, too trusting of what his players can do. And yet many around the team believe that is precisely why the team overachieved for four months in 2011, remaining in the playoff hunt despite a rash of significant injuries.
It is that performance that earned Collins a contract extension through 2013, despite a losing record in his first year on the job. But he enters 2012 with expectations even lower than they were a year ago, leading some to wonder how long the irascible Collins' optimism can last.
In his annual state of the team address on Tuesday, Collins acknowledged that leading the Mets back to competitive baseball may be more than a one-year process.
"Patience is a tough word in New York City, but we've got to have it," Collins said.
But the manager also insisted that his team's goal, as it is every year, is to reach the postseason.
Doing so will require more than just a healthy return for Johan Santana. It will require the Mets to receive sizeable contributions from David Wright, Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy, all of whom are coming off injuries. It will require continued development from young players Ruben Tejada and Lucas Duda.
When Collins addresses his full squad for the first time this weekend, he plans to tell them simply that they are better than the negative perceptions surrounding the club.
"Ultimately, as everybody knows and everybody's seen, it's not always the best team that wins," Collins said. "It's the team that plays the best that wins. And we've got to be that club."
Current, former Mets to attend Carter's service
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- A large contingent of current and former Mets players are planning to attend Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter's memorial service Friday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
General manager Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins will make the short ride down to Palm Beach Gardens with a group of current players, including David Wright, Jon Niese, Josh Thole and Bobby Parnell. Carter's former teammates Wally Backman, Sid Fernandez, Keith Hernandez, Howard Johnson, Roger McDowell, Rusty Staub, Darryl Strawberry, Tim Teufel and Mookie Wilson are also expected to attend.
In lieu of flowers, the Carter family has requested that donations be made to The Gary Carter Foundation, 580 Village Blvd., Suite 315, West Palm Beach, FL, 33409. Donations will go to support the Autism Project of Palm Beach County, Hospice of Palm Beach County and Palm Beach Atlantic University Baseball.