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01/05/10 2:53 PM EST

Mets keeping eye on Delgado

Veteran could return after rehabbing in Puerto Rico

On the day the Mets introduced a new power bat in Queens, N.Y., one of their middle-of-the-order guys for the past four years was in Puerto Rico, trying to get healthy after right hip surgery in May.

General manager Omar Minaya unveiled Jason Bay, his big free-agent splash of the offseason, during a news conference at Citi Field on Tuesday. But Carlos Delgado is still out there, and it seems like the Mets have not yet closed the door on his return.

In fact, Newsday attributed "a person familiar with the club's thinking" Monday in reporting that the Mets are "very interested" in re-signing Delgado, with their preference being an incentive-laden deal.

Delgado played just 26 games in 2009 before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum and remove a bone spur from his right hip. As of now, young Daniel Murphy stands to be the Mets' first baseman in 2010.

Whether or not that will change remains to be seen.

"We are going to look at Delgado," Minaya said during the Bay news conference, "but I feel very comfortable if we have to go with Daniel Murphy also."

Delgado is currently playing for the Carolina Giants, whom he debuted with on Sunday night, going 1-for-4. That was his first game action since May 10, when he went 1-for-4 against the Pirates to end his short 2009 season with a .298 batting average, .393 on-base percentage, four home runs and 23 RBIs in 112 plate appearances.

When asked if he would travel to Puerto Rico to see Delgado in person, Minaya said, "I might. We do have people there now, and we are going to continue to have some of our scouts keep an eye on him. At some point in time, I may go see him, but I don't really have to. I trust our scouts and what they tell us."

Scouts' opinions figure to weigh heavily on Delgado's future, as a lot of the uncertainty that comes with signing a 37-year-old coming off major surgery could be put to rest with a strong Winter League showing.

Delgado's agent, David Sloane, would not comment on any negotiations regarding his client, only saying that the lefty slugger has no apprehensions about continuing to play in the National League. Sloane also admitted that the recovery process has "taken longer than anticipated," but as far as he knew, Delgado "felt fine" after his first action on Sunday.

So far, though, because he's playing on artificial turf, Delgado has served as a designated hitter while batting cleanup in both of his Winter League games, going a combined 3-for-8 after notching a couple of singles on Monday.

"It's a progression," Sloane said. "His first games on the field, particularly on artificial turf, it's better for him to DH than to play first base."

If Delgado is healthy, he could be a big power addition to the Mets' lineup, considering he hit 38 homers and drove in 115 runs during his last full season in 2008.

Delgado or not, the Bay signing allows Minaya to move on and address other needs on the roster -- particularly, catching and starting pitching, as the Mets' GM re-emphasized Tuesday.

New York's efforts to sign free agent Bengie Molina have been well-documented, but if the club can't nab Molina or another potential frontline catcher, Minaya mentioned Josh Thole and Omir Santos as in-house options.

"We have catchers right now," Minaya said. "Can we upgrade? Would we like to? Yes. Do we have to? I don't feel we have to."

Potential starting-pitching options include Joel Pineiro, Jon Garland and Ben Sheets.

"On the pitching front, it has to be a guy that fits what we're looking to do," Minaya said. "It's key for me on the pitching front. Last year, when we started the season, a lot of guys picked us to potentially go to the World Series with pretty much the same pitchers that we have now."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Bryan Hoch contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.