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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mets News and Notes: Mets Outfield Set, Rice, Mets Opening Day Lineup, Turner, Wheeler

Mets News and Notes:

Collins said he will use a regular outfield of Lucas Duda in left field, Collin Cowgill in center field and Marlon Byrd in right field, while trying to find opportunities off the bench for Jordany Valdespin, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter.

Nieuwenhuis likely will be a late-game defensive replacement for Duda.

"One of the things we've got to make sure we do, that's cover ourselves defensively," Collins said. "Be it center field, be it late for Lucas, or whatever it might be, he's the best outfielder we've got, in my opinion. Defensively he can really play center field. So we thought we could take him. Hopefully if he starts swinging, like he did last year, I'm sure he's going to get a lot of playing time. But he does give us a lot of security."

In his 15th professional season, 31-year-old Scott Rice is poised to make his major league debut during the upcoming week.

Rice, who played independent ball in 2008 with the Long Island Ducks and the following year with the Newark Bears, beat out Robert Carson to serve as a second lefty, alongside Josh Edgin, in the bullpen.

Collins said it was a no-brainer to put Rice on the roster -- even though it required making 40-man roster room -- because the southpaw is a “groundball machine.”

Mets Opening Day Lineup:
  1. Collin Cowgill, cf
  2. Daniel Murphy, 2b
  3. David Wright, 3b
  4. Ike Davis, 1b
  5. Marlon Byrd, rf
  6. Lucas Duda, lf
  7. John Buck, c
  8. Ruben Tejada, ss
  9. Jonathon Niese, lhp

Collins believes the lineup should be relatively stable, except when backups need an occasional start or the Mets want to get an extra lefty bat such as Jordany Valdespin into the lineup against certain right-handers.

"Right now, it'll probably be what you saw today," Collins said. "... If there's some of those righties that are really tough on right-handed hitters, we'll get some left-handed bats in there. I mean, we've got to get Valdespin in the lineup sometimes also."

The Mets will wait until Sunday to decide whether Justin Turner lands on the disabled list with a strained left calf.

Zach Lutz will make the Opening Day roster if Turner is placed on the DL.

Both players were traveling with the team to New York on Saturday afternoon.

"We need to have Justin Turner work out tomorrow," Terry Collins said. "He's going to come in and see the trainers anyway. And then we'll make a decision after he goes through the workout."

Turner suffered the injury Wednesday in a Grapefruit League game. He figured it might have resulted from compensating for a sprained right ankle he previously suffered. The Mets could backdate the injury four days into spring training, so Turner would be eligible to return April 12 from a DL stint, for a series opener at Minnesota.

Zack Wheeler will start Opening Day for Triple-A Las Vegas, on April 4 in Sacramento, the top prospect tweeted.

Wheeler presumably would form a battery with Travis d'Arnaud, the prized catching prospect obtained from the Toronto Blue Jays for R.A. Dickey in December.

Wheeler logged two scoreless Grapefruit League innings before suffering a strained right oblique muscle Feb. 27 and then being shipped to minor league camp.

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