Over at NJ.com, the online home of the Star-Ledger, Jorge Castillo tells us that during the offseason, Mets manager Terry Collins, personally called infielders Justin Turner, Josh Satin, Zach Lutz and Brandon Hicks to give them all the same piece of advice – be prepared to play some corner outfield.
As far as any experience either of the four have roaming the green pastures, it’s almost nil.
Once upon a time, months after he was drafted in 2006, Justin Turner played four games in left field and four in right field for the Billings Mustangs, a Reds affiliate in the rookie-ball level Pioneer League. Then there was the time Josh Satin played 10 games in left field in Venezuela two winters ago. Zach Lutz’s last days patrolling green pasture were as a Little Leaguer in Shillington, Pa. That’s all more than Brandon Hicks’ outfield experience. He has none.
Interestingly enough is the fact that Lucas Duda himself is still in the throws of learning the nuances of the outfield as he too made the transition from first base like some of the others. Jordany Valdespin got his first taste of the outfield last season and was urged to stick to it in winter ball where he posted some solid numbers that could give him a slight edge.
Marlon Byrd is making an impact, at least that’s what Collins’ said in a recent interview, and Matt den Dekker, who you can read more about here, has certainly thrust his cap into the ring after a few fantastic grabs since Grapefruit League action began.
It’s a very uncertain situation and there is no solution that really jumps out at you. But somehow, Collins will be charged with picking five out of this group and somehow trying to make it all work. That’s a very tall order.
So what once was the worst outfield configuration in the major leagues last season will look a little different this year, but there’s no telling if things will get better or possibly even worse. The only thing that’s certain for now, is that there’s not one ideal choice to choose from in the entire group. A fact that Sandy himself acknowledged during our conference call last week. Somehow, the Mets will have to make the best of the situation, but strap yourselves in because things could get bumpy.