When the Mets opened camp in the middle of February, there were some important story lines. What would happen at first base, where Ike Davis and Lucas Duda were ostensibly competing to be the left-handed part of a platoon with Josh Satin? Is Ruben Tejada a major-league shortstop, capable of playing the position every day? And does the 40-year-old Bartolo Colon have anything left in the tank?
Injuries have thus far prevented the Mets from gaining answers to any of the questions above. Davis (calf) and Duda (hamstring) have not played in recent days. The grapefruit league games were supposed to provide ample opportunity for both to have a significant number of at-bats. While both Davis and Duda may be close to returning to action, every missed day makes the Mets’ decision that much harder.
Also, it’s likely that the “loser” of the Davis/Duda battle could be trade bait, and their injuries have limited evaluation opportunities by other clubs. All of this could place Sandy Alderson in a tough spot when camp ends, and decision time arrives. Both Davis and Duda have an option and can be sent to Triple-A, but ideally that decision will be made on as complete of a data set as possible.
Moving to shortstop, the hamstring injury to Ruben Tejada is exactly what the Mets did not need. Both Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins have expressed guarded optimism that Tejada can be effective, but his lack of spring playing time is not instilling confidence within the organization.
If Tejada struggles in spring training, that could encourage the Mets to trade for Nick Franklin or sign Stephen Drew. However, the absence of information leaves the Mets in a predicament, not knowing how to proceed at a very important position. Word is that Tejada should return to action Friday, but like Davis and Duda, every Tejada spring at-bat was set to factor into an important decision that the team has to make before March 31st.
And then there’s the case of Bartolo Colon. Colon has yet to appear in a spring training game due to a calf injury. Many are not concerned about Colon, who is coming off of a tremendous campaign for the Athletics. Colon will have a spot in the rotation regardless of his spring training performance. However, it’s very fair to wonder about what Colon may have left to offer. He’ll turn 41 in May, is not in great shape, and has been suspended for PED use in the past. Spring training games could help the Mets gauge what they have in Colon, whose performance realistically could decline at any point.
It’s early in spring training. There are three full weeks left of games. However, when decisions need to be made, sometimes (right or wrong), those decisions are influenced by spring training performance. All teams have spring injuries. For the Mets, those injuries – while minor – have come in relative droves, and to the exact players they are trying to evaluate. The hope is that these injuries will resolve before too much time passes, and appropriate assessments can be made.