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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Outfielders Hairston and Torres both could be ready for Opening Day

Scott Hairston should be ready for Opening Day and Andres Torres may be as well, clearing a previously murky center-field situation for the Mets.

Hairston is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut on Wednesday, putting him on track for Opening Day availability. The backup outfielder reached base three times in four appearances during a Minor League intrasquad game Tuesday, his first game action since straining a left oblique muscle early in camp.

"That's a bright spot," manager Terry Collins said.

Torres, the starting center fielder, played catch and swung in the batting cage Tuesday, lining him up also for an impending return. Sidelined the past eight days with a strained left calf, Torres appeared in nine Grapefruit League games earlier this spring, meaning he should not need quite as many at-bats as Hairston to be ready.

Even if Torres cannot go on Opening Day, Hairston boasts more than enough center-field experience to hold down the position until his return. The Mets had previously contemplated carrying Minor Leaguer Matt den Dekker on their Opening Day roster, had both Torres and Hairston still been hurt.

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