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01/18/08 2:50 PM ET

Mets invite Valentin to Spring Training

Veteran will return to club following September knee surgery

NEW YORK -- Already stocked with second basemen, the Mets invited veteran switch-hitter Jose Valentin to Spring Training in hopes that the 38-year-old free agent can provide some roster flexibility and experience after he fully recovers from September surgery on his right knee.

Valentin, an integral part of the Mets' success in 2006, agreed to a Minor League contract for 2008 on Friday. He remains unable to participate in baseball activities, because he still is rehabbing his knee. He underwent surgery to repair a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament Sept. 25.

"Jose is progressing well from his surgery and already is rehabbing for his return," said Mets general manager Omar Minaya. "We hope he can bounce back and help us in a variety of ways."

"The main reason I came back to the Mets is that the team is focused on returning to the postseason and I want to do my part to help us win," said Valentin. "My goal is to start playing in Spring Training games by mid-March."

Valentin appeared in only 51 games last season because of the knee injury, suffered April 27, and a broken right tibia, suffered July 20. Since then, the club acquired and re-signed Luis Castillo to play second base. The Mets also have Ruben Gotay, Damion Easley and Anderson Hernandez available to play second base. But Valentin's versatility, switch-hitting and power eventually could win him a place on the roster. He is a favorite of manager Willie Randolph.

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.