3/20/2013 6:17 P.M. ET
Mets developing contingency plans for infield
By Anthony DiComo / MLB.com
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Unlike their outfield, the Mets' infield looked to be a source of stability heading into this season. The Mets boasted four returning starters, all of whom enjoyed at least adequate production last summer. If not elite, New York's infield was supposed to be steady.
So far this spring, it has been anything but. Third baseman David Wright continues to battle injury, and second baseman Daniel Murphy has yet to appear in a spring game. Even the bench situation is unstable.
With merely a dozen days remaining before Opening Day, the Mets are left wondering just what their infield might look like when they open the gates at Citi Field.
The questions begin with Wright. Although he was still waiting to be cleared for physical activity as of Wednesday afternoon, he reiterated that he does not expect his strained left intercostal to keep him out past April 1.
"Opening Day is my goal," Wright said.
But similar optimism was absent for Murphy, who recently suffered a setback in his rehab from a strained right intercostal. Originally scheduled to have made his Grapefruit League debut by now, Murphy experienced soreness after playing five defensive innings in a Minor League game last weekend. The Mets shut him down, and he has done nothing but receive treatment since.
"After my conversation with David, I'm certainly counting on having David for the season," manager Terry Collins said. "But Dan, I'm not sure yet."
Should either player still be sidelined a week and a half from now, Justin Turner is the leading candidate to replace him. But Turner is still feeling the effects of a sprained right ankle, an injury he sustained last weekend. The Mets now hope that Turner can return to the lineup by Friday, which would ease some of their worries heading into the final week of camp.
At this point, even the contingencies have contingencies. If Wright and Murphy miss Opening Day, Turner will likely play third base while Jordany Valdespin mans second. If Murphy misses time but Wright does not, Turner could slide to second base while Valdespin takes on a bench role.
If Wright, Turner and Murphy are all still injured, the Mets will most likely look to rookie Zach Lutz at third base, with Valdespin at second.
It's a complication situation making Collins' job more difficult.
"Right now I'm worried about making sure that the guys who play those positions are ready to go," he said. "Getting at-bats for Turner is big. I'm going to continue to play Valdespin at second and see where we are when we get closer."
Wright, whose injury received plenty of coverage last week thanks to his storybook run in the World Baseball Classic, continues to stress optimism, and restated that he will not need much game action to be ready for Opening Day.
"It's just about getting to where the pain is not there anymore," he said. "I don't think I need that much time after the pain is gone to get ready as far as baseball stuff goes, because I played my last game a week ago. So it's not that big of a deal."
That does not mean that he will definitely be ready come April 1; intercostal injuries tend to linger. It only means that a week and a half out, he has a legitimate chance to be ready.
"I want to be ready for Opening Day," he said, "but also I don't want to cost myself a month or two during the season because I'm rushing back."