If you squint hard enough — and, gosh, don’t hurt yourself — you can listen to Terry Collins speak, read his words, and envision: “Well, probably not, but maybe. Just maybe. Like, a one in 500 chance.”

“I can give you a list of a number of teams who no one expected anything of,” the Mets manager said yesterday in his first formal news conference of 2013 spring training at Tradition Field. “The most recent were the [2012] Oakland A’s. They took an all-rookie pitching staff by midseason and ended up winning the [American League West]. It can be done.

“Now, along that way, a lot of things have to go right. You have to get big years out of guys you don’t expect. They did. Huge years. Their pitching staff stayed healthy. A lot of things have to happen. But it can happen. And there’s no reason why it can’t happen here.”

It’s the time of year for hope around baseball, and we know most will prove to be false hope. Yet it seems as if the Mets hold their first pitchers and catchers workout today with an extra burden. Forty-seven days before their first game that counts, it feels like they’re already 0-1. A half-game behind the rest of baseball.

“I had spent most of the winter looking at the names that are being added on a daily basis,” Collins said. “... Michael Bourn wasn’t a part of it.”

Collins’ point: No point in crying over what you never had, now that Bourn — after engaging in a mating dance of sorts with the Mets — is set to sign a four-year, $48-million deal with Cleveland.

My point: Collins should think exactly that way, as the manager. However, for a team that still faces major credibility issues with its own fan base, the Bourn episode wound up exacerbating that very dynamic.

It took a resolution to Bourn’s case to fully appreciate how remote the Mets’ chances were of actually adding Bourn. They needed to 1) agree on financial terms with Bourn and his agent, Scott Boras, then 2) ask Bourn to sit on the sidelines for at least two weeks and keep his fingers crossed for 3) an arbitration hearing (regarding the draft compensation off a Bourn signing) to go the Mets’ way, a result that was hardly guaranteed.

The only way Bourn would have signed off on such a long-shot game plan were if he had absolutely nowhere else to turn. Not surprisingly, he found a very good option with the Indians, who suddenly look like a contender in the ultra-winnable AL Central.