3/31/2014 2:11 P.M. ET
Murphy, C. Young miss Mets' opener
By Anthony DiComo / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- With so much speculation surrounding the Opening Day lineup, two circumstances beyond the team's control changed things dramatically on Monday at Citi Field.
Second baseman Daniel Murphy left the team on Sunday to be with his wife, Tori, who went into labor with the couple's first child. Murphy is expected back on Wednesday; Eric Young played second base and batted leadoff against the Nationals.
The Mets also played without outfielder Chris Young, who suffered a mild right quad strain over the weekend in Montreal. Though Young said that he felt well enough to pinch-hit or pinch-run if needed, he explained that Tuesday's off-day would essentially give him three full days of rest to make sure the muscle heals correctly.
"It's going to be tough to not go out there with my teammates today," Young said. "Especially with how spring was, we've been playing well at the back end of Spring Training. There were just a lot of high hopes and positivity coming into today, so I wish I could be part of it. But you have to do what's best for the team, and today this is what it is."
In Young's absence, Juan Lagares started in center field and Andrew Brown played left, with Curtis Granderson in right.
Ike has possession of first base -- for now
NEW YORK -- Ike Davis is the winner of the first-base competition -- at least for now.
Though Davis was in the Opening Day lineup, batting sixth, manager Terry Collins said that Davis, Lucas Duda and Josh Satin will all receive regular at-bats early in the season. Satin, for example, will start at first base on Wednesday, when the Mets face Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez.
General manager Sandy Alderson, meanwhile, said that the team could consider demoting either Davis or Duda to Triple-A Las Vegas when Jon Niese comes off the disabled list on Sunday. With Niese on the DL, the Mets are carrying an extra bench player for the first five games of the season.
"I'm not suggesting it happens at first base, but we're going to have to address our position players at that time," Alderson said. "I don't expect this to be a fluid situation that goes on indefinitely."
Still, with the Mets in need of a designated hitter next weekend in Anaheim, a demotion of one of those two remains unlikely; outfielder Andrew Brown has always been the leading candidate to go to the Minors at that time.
Mets pay tribute to Kiner at Citi Field
NEW YORK -- The Mets honored late broadcaster Ralph Kiner with a pregame ceremony on Monday, unveiling a permanent Kiner microphone logo on the left-field wall and a temporary one on the grass behind home plate.
Kiner's children -- Michael, K.C., Tracee and Kimberlee -- participated in the ceremony, which included a video tribute to Kiner, an original member of the Mets' broadcast team and an SNY contributor through last season.
The ceremonies also included a ceremonial first pitch from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
"Very cool," team captain David Wright said. "You think of Ralph Kiner, you think of this great broadcaster. But he was a [great] player. It was incredible the numbers that he put up in an unfortunately short career. He was one of the best players to play the game, one of the best power hitters in history, so I thought it was a fitting tribute."
Mets sign veteran Abreu to Minors deal
NEW YORK -- The Mets inked a big name to a small deal on Monday, signing veteran outfielder Bobby Abreu to a Minor League contract.
The Phillies cut Abreu, 40, last week after he hit .244 with no home runs in 41 Grapefruit League plate appearances. He did walk 10 times, however, and finished with a .404 on-base percentage.
In Las Vegas, Abreu offers the Mets inexpensive insurance behind the top four outfielders on their organizational depth chart: Curtis Granderson, Chris Young, Juan Lagares and Eric Young Jr. A 17-year veteran of the Astros, Phillies, Yankees, Angels and Dodgers, Abreu is best known as a patient hitter who made two All-Star teams in Philadelphia.
The left-handed-hitting Abreu last played in the Majors in 2012, hitting .246 with a .361 on-base percentage in 230 plate appearances for the Dodgers. He does have a prominent Mets connection, hitting .322 with three home runs in 50 games for the Caracas Lions of Venezuela's winter ball league. Hitting coach Dave Hudgens managed that team, and the Mets nearly signed Abreu over the winter before the Phillies scooped him up on a Minor League deal.
Alderson addresses payroll flexibility
NEW YORK -- General manager Sandy Alderson reiterated on Monday that the Mets have enough payroll flexibility to add a major piece via trade, though he indicated that the ability to do so will hinge upon early attendance figures.
Depending on the type of calculations used, the Opening Day payroll rests somewhere between $85 million and $90 million, roughly the same as last season.
"What I'm hoping is that as we get better and the fans respond to that improvement, that that payroll number will go up," Alderson said.
The Mets committed $87.25 million to three free agents (Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon and Chris Young) this past offseason, and paid significant arbitration raises to several others. But the overall effect was a reallocation of the money they'd spent on Johan Santana, Jason Bay, and other oft-injured or underperforming players in recent years.
• Right-hander Jenrry Mejia was examined by a team doctor on Sunday, coming away with a clean bill of health on his bruised right forearm. Barring an unexpected setback, he will start Friday's series opener against the Reds.
• The Mets have reassigned advance scouting assistant Jim Kelly to their instant replay booth. Kelly will watch reviews of close calls in the Mets' command center at home and on the road, then call bench coach Bob Geren on a direct line to the dugout. Geren will relay the decision to challenge a call to manager Terry Collins.