Scott Hairston homered twice, Angel Pagan contributed a three-run homer and Oliver Perez, Blaine Boyer, Tim Byrdak and Taylor Buchholz combined for 5 1/3 scoreless relief innings as the Mets beat the Cardinals, 13-3, on Sunday in Port St. Lucie. The Mets have an off-day Monday.
• While not committing to Carlos Beltran opening the season on the DL, Terry Collins trotted out a lineup Sunday that he suggested could be his Opening Day Nos. 1-8 -- that is, assuming Luis Castillo is the starting second baseman, which is hardly a given. The order: Jose Reyes, Castillo, Pagan, David Wright, Jason Bay, Ike Davis, Hairston and Josh Thole.
“I still think Jason and Ike will protect David if Carlos isn’t there,” Collins said. “It allows Louie to be really in his position where he can be effective, and that’s hitting second right now -- if he’s the second baseman.”
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Hairston would be filling Beltran’s spot in right field in the scenario. He is a natural outfielder, but only three of his 319 outfield starts in the majors have come in right field.
“He said he could play right, and he’s shown that so far,” Collins said. “He hasn’t seemed to have any difficulties out there, and he’s certainly making a statement.”
Collins said he also has weighed lineups that flip Davis and Bay following Wright, which would make it righty-lefty-righty. Those scenarios presumably would keep Bay fifth, which Collins likes, and have the second baseman hit at the bottom of the order.
While Hairston may very well be the Opening Day right fielder presuming Beltran is on the DL, with Willie Harris also seeing action there, Collins also insisted not to write off Lucas Duda making the team as the starting right fielder if Beltran opens the year on the DL.
“That’s why we got those guys here,” Collins said, referring to Hairston and Harris, “so that they can split some time out there and get some guys some breaks. You know, Willie gives us that option of also that guy who can play the infield. He brings a lot to the table. But Lucas Duda has got to be looked at. He just has had such a good spring. If something should go wrong, we’ve got to certainly think about having that big bat in that lineup somehow.”
Beltran likely won’t see any Grapefruit League action at least until next weekend, if that soon, considering Monday is a team off-day and the Mets are doing an overnight trip Wednesday and Thursday across the state to Fort Myers to play the Twins and Red Sox.
Minor league games begin on Thursday, so Beltran could see action in one of those.
“We’ll accommodate whatever we need to do while we’re on the other side -- be it some type of batting practice, off coaches or live, so that he can get back in the groove a little bit,” Collins said.
As for Castillo’s likelihood of being on the team, two scouts from prominent teams said he has looked the best so far among the candidates. Still, it clearly has been the preference from the get-go to go with Brad Emaus unless he disqualifies himself with his play during the final three weeks of spring training. Collins, on the subject of second base, said again Sunday: “I still believe that second base is an offensive position. And with the fact that we’ve got that guy that we have playing first base, the range needed to play second base is not what a lot of teams might need if their first baseman isn’t as good as ours.”
• Collins also suggested he is close to naming his full rotation, which is widely assumed to be Chris Young and Chris Capuano rounding out the staff following Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese and R.A. Dickey.
“I’m getting pretty close,” Collins said about naming a rotation.
Asked specifically about Young and Capuano, Collins said: “That’s why we brought them here was to be in this rotation. They certainly haven’t done anything to prove they don’t belong in it yet.”
Capuano allowed two hits and one walk while striking out four in five scoreless innings primarily against Mets minor leaguers on Sunday morning.
“I watched him from behind the catcher and then I went out and I wanted to see what it looked like from center field,” Collins said. “First of all, his command was outstanding this morning. Outstanding. He made pitches. He’s got command of the sinker. I thought he threw some good changeups. I thought he pitched very, very well today.”
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• Perez began his long-shot audition for a lefty specialist role when he was summoned with two out and none on in the fourth inning to face lefty-hitting Cardinals second baseman Daniel Descalso. Perez threw five strikes during the seven-pitch at-bat, with his fastball ranging from 85 to 87 mph. He retired Descalso on a pop-up to second base.
“I got loose quickly,” Perez said.
Perez dropped his arm angle to three-quarters to gain more effectiveness against lefty hitters, and predicted he would be there consistently as a reliever.
“All my career I’ve been throwing to lefties sidearm,” Perez said. “This year I’m going to use it more.”
Said Collins: “He threw strikes. That’s what we wanted him to do. He threw strikes, gave them a different look. I thought the 1-2 pitch, he made a real, real good pitch on the outside corner -- which is where he’s got to get the ball to a left-handed hitter for me. Especially from that angle he’s throwing, if he can get the ball out there, he’s going to have some success. He came in with energy, and I like that. We will, I’m sure, on Tuesday night try it again.”
• Pat Misch, the frontrunner presuming the Mets carry a long reliever/spot starter, tossed three scoreless innings as a starter before allowing three runs in the fourth. Misch was hit hard during three straight at-bats to open the second, but escaped that frame unscathed with Matt Holliday flying out to deep center, David Freese doubling, Yadier Molina striking out after narrowly sending a ball foul down the left-field line and Nick Stavinoha grounding out.
Misch believes he has added some velocity this spring because of his winter workout program.
“My workouts were pretty tough this winter,” Misch said. “… I’m just trying to use my legs a little bit more.”
• Harris went 1-for-2 with two RBIs. He’s hitting .345 this spring and is 6-for-10 in his past four games.
• Collins echoed the belief that Johan Santana will contribute to the Mets during the second half.
“The other day, when I asked Randy Niemann, who is pretty much the guy who is handling all of his throwing program, Randy said they actually moved him back another 10 feet [throwing on flat ground],” Collins said. They thought he was actually ahead of schedule for where he would be.”
• Luis Hernandez had a two-run triple and went 2-for-4 with two runs scored as the DH