After seven weeks of workouts, 33 Grapefruit League games and maybe too many injuries to count, manager Terry Collins felt the need to speak with his players Saturday night as the Mets were arriving home from spring training to begin the 2013 season.

The crux of the manager’s message — “play hard” — might have seemed simplistic, but for a franchise with limited star power, it was an appropriate reminder of what is needed for the Mets to have a chance at competing this season.

“We just don’t show up and play here,” Collins said yesterday. “There’s expectations to play in this city and our fans deserve maximum effort each and every night so when they leave here they want to come back the next day win or lose. I know we’ve got the right guys in place to do that.”

The Mets will open the season today, when they face the Padres at Citi Field, as no better on paper than the fourth-best team in the NL East. Now it’s Collins’ and the players’ jobs to slowly begin incinerating that paper and trying to become this year’s version of the 2012 Athletics or 2011 Diamondbacks.

Why should anyone believe in the Mets?

“We have good players,” David Wright said. “I think we’ve got guys that understand their role, guys that know how to play the game. One of the biggest things going for us is we don’t have guys with big egos, so the way we’re going to play the game is good for winning baseball games.”

The sobering fact is nearly half of this year’s estimated $95 million payroll is either on the disabled list or gone. Johan Santana (DL), Jason Bay (buyout) and Frank Francisco (DL) account for about $43 million in payroll this season, leaving the Opening Day roster near the small-market Padres’ or Royals’ tax bracket.

So there will no shortage of skepticism about the Mets, especially if the team struggles early.

“That’s fine, as long as the organization believes,” new addition Marlon Byrd said.

Does the organization believe?

“You tell me one organization that believes their team is not going to win,” Byrd said.