Mets Make Moves During WBC

A league-high amount of participants in the World Baseball Classic has forced the Mets to dive deep into the minor league complex, bringing up names they otherwise had not anticipated heading into camp. Here are a few notes on how the club is handling all the movement.

As the World Baseball Classic gets into full swing, the Mets' spring training facility is nearly empty.

With the late addition of Fernando Tatis to replace injured Alex Rodriguez on the Dominican Republic's roster, the Mets increased their MLB-high number of representatives in the WBC to 16.

Included among the departures: four starting position players (Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes and David Wright), the two pitchers at the back end of the bullpen (Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz) and one member of the rotation (Oliver Perez).

"That's fine," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said. "We like the Classic."

Manager Jerry Manuel already identified one thing the WBC has prevented him from doing: testing new lineup combinations. Manuel had floated the idea at the beginning of camp of batting Reyes in the No. 3 spot in the order this season.

The likelihood is Manuel would have backed off and used Reyes as his primary leadoff man rather than Luis Castillo during the regular season anyway. But Manuel indicated the WBC all but assures the restoration of Reyes to No. 1.

With Alex Cora and Tatis (who had been playing third base in Wright's absence) gone for the WBC, the Mets have to borrow from minor league camp just to complete games. Reese Havens, a 2008 first-round pick who played in the short-season New York-Penn League last season after signing, is expected to be liberally borrowed from the minor league complex for Grapefruit League games the next couple of weeks, while 17-year-old Wilmer Flores also may be on loan.

Among current members of major league camp, Jose Valentin, Ramon Martinez and Jose Coronado are among the few players capable of playing the left side of the infield.

NOTES, QUOTES

LHP Johan Santana remains on target for Opening Day on April 6 in Cincinnati, the ace insisted. Santana had been shut down from throwing for three days after elbow tightness surfaced, but he subsequently threw pain-free bullpen sessions of 35 and 46 pitches.

RHP Tim Redding, slowed by shoulder discomfort at the start of camp, faced hitters for the first time as a Met when he threw batting practice March 5. Redding has a $2.25 million major league deal with the Mets and should be on the roster as the fifth starter or long reliever. His mind-set clearly is to earn a rotation spot by beating out RHPs Livan Hernandez and Freddy Garcia and LHP Jon Niese.

OF Fernando Tatis, who had been held out of games the first week of the Grapefruit League season with a right palm injury, played his first spring game March 3. Two days later, he prepared to leave camp to join the Dominican team in the World Baseball Classic as a replacement for injured 3B Alex Rodriguez.

OF Fernando Martinez has yet to pick up a baseball in camp after suffering a right elbow strain in the Caribbean Series. Martinez, who is limited to DH and pinch-hitting duty, was examined by team doctors March 5.

They recommended the organization's top prospect wait another week before beginning a throwing program.

RHP Tony Armas Jr., whose arrival was delayed by visa problems for a second consecutive spring training, reported to camp. Armas is expected to open the season at Class AAA Buffalo.

BY THE NUMBERS: 16 -- Representatives of the Mets in the World Baseball Classic, a major league-high total.

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