Woodward inches closer to utility role

Woodward inches closer to utility role

Though nothing is certain, it appears that Chris Woodward is drawing ever closer to solidifying a utility role on the Mets. <P> Woodward, a 28-year-old infielder, was 3-for-3 with two triples, two RBI and a walk on Sunday, helping the Mets edge the Detroit Tigers 7-6 in Lakeland, Fla.

A career .247 hitter over parts of six seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, Woodward is hitting .435 with 10 RBI this spring, and manager Willie Randolph said that he envisioned Woodward making the club.

"It's not a surprise at all," Randolph told reporters. "To me, I figured he'd make it anyway."

Woodward is wearing No. 4 in camp, an extremely low number that signals he is being considered. If he makes the club, it could likely spell the end of Joe McEwing's days in a Mets uniform.

McEwing has a guaranteed $500,000 contract for 2005, but GM Omar Minaya could attempt to pull off a deal before Opening Day - the St. Louis Cardinals would be likely targets, as manager Tony LaRussa has always been an unabashed McEwing fanatic.

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