Starling Marte may not play center field after all

New York Mets Photo Day
New York Mets Photo Day / Benjamin Rusnak/GettyImages

Starling Marte is dealing with an oblique injury but did participate in a minor league game on Wednesday with “non-swinging” at-bats. It’s kind of like being on one of those non-calorie counting diets where you just eat enough cake until you feel full. Marte was one of the biggest acquisitions the New York Mets made this offseason. Thought of as their starting center fielder this year, that may not be the case after all.

In his minor league appearance, Marte played right field. This isn’t unusual for a rehabbing player except he has never played the position in the major leagues. In fact, he’s a former Gold Glove-winning left fielder.

This could mean nothing. This could mean it’s Brandon Nimmo we see playing center field for the Mets for most of the 2022 season.

The Mets outfield alignment is already getting shaken up before Opening Day

Here’s the good news: Nimmo was a much better defensive center fielder last year. Was it a mirage? Will he revert back to his questionable ways at the position this season?

A knock against Nimmo for several years has been his weakness as a center fielder. Like so many others, he had been better in the corners. When the Mets signed Marte, it looked like he would be moving to one of the corner spot. Right field seemed to make the most sense. Mark Canha, the least gifted of the three, would play left field.

The Marte injury could change things at least for the start of the season. The Mets will need to be flexible with all three outfield positions. With limited talent with experience outside of left field, they’ll need to have everyone ready to move around as needed.

There wasn’t supposed to be any Marte vs. Nimmo competition for the starting center field gig. However, with Nimmo now looking like the healthier option, one could be born.

Nimmo has already stated that center field would be his position of choice. It’s a good call. As a free agent next winter, you want to do everything you can to increase your value. A good center fielder is hard to find. Just ask the Mets. They thought they signed a guy this offseason to play the position for at least one year. Before even taking the field, he may be destined for a more regular spot in one of the corners.

Although Marte has never play right field, it might still be better than Canha. Right field needs a little more athleticism to avoid doubles from turning into troubles. If Marte was able to excel in left field and play well in center field for a couple of signs, right field shouldn’t be too hard. And if Nimmo happens to struggle, they can always change it up.

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