This was cruel and inhuman punishment for Terry Collins.
The “what outfield?” crisis for the beleaguered Mets manager has reached such proportions that, with Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ knee injury, Collins has taken to roaming the clubhouse every morning looking for volunteers — as he did Monday, summoning marginal utilityman Jordany Valdespin into his office and telling him to prepare for increased playing time out there. You got the feeling it pained Collins to possibly now have to consider Valdespin a viable outfield option, given the 25-year old’s often spacey and entitled persona has sometimes rubbed the manager the wrong way.
But that’s not all. Collins said, starting Wednesday, he planned to start looking at Marlon Byrd in center field. The much-traveled 35-year-old, who was released by the Red Sox last June and missed the rest of the season on a drug suspension, was a late sign by the Mets after impressing their scouts with his play in the Mexican winter league.
Coming into camp he was tabbed to be the everyday right fielder, even though his last full and fairly productive season was 2010, when he hit .293 with 12 homers and 66 RBI for the Cubs. However, between Nieuwenhuis’ injury and his projected center field platoon mate Collin Cowgill’s suspect bat, Collins is scrambling to find outfield offense.
Meanwhile, Collins could only look with envy Monday at the Atlanta Braves, who brought their “A” team to Tradition Field for their first spring encounter with the Mets, including what is now arguably the best power-speed-defense outfield in baseball with 20-homer, 20-steal Gold Glover Jason Heyward in right and the celebrated winter acquisition of the Upton brothers, B.J. and two-time All-Star Justin, in center and left, respectively.
Indeed, the outfield contrast merely served to underscore the huge talent gap between these two clubs and how Collins is facing a likely futile task to keep this Mets team competitive with, at least, the Braves and Washington Nationals.


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