Thursday, March 1, 2012
If not Ike, who's on first?
By Adam Rubin
Terry Collins resolved last season after switching Carlos Beltran to right field that he would not use Beltran in center field again. If Angel Pagan needed a day off, or even landed on the 15-day DL, the manager did not intend to have Beltran reoccupy his former position.
The same holds true with Lucas Duda this season.
Duda, a natural first baseman, is now the full-time right fielder. And Collins said he is determined not to put Duda back at first base if Ike Davis needs a day off, or even requires a trip to the DL.
“He’s got enough on his hands right now to play right field every day,” Collins said.
Justin Turner worked out at first base Thursday for the first time in camp and is now Davis’ backup. Collins said he would not consider shuffling Duda or Daniel Murphy to first base even if Davis were to miss 15 days -- it would be Turner or whomever is called up from the minors.
Collins tipped his hand Thursday that if Davis were to miss a prolonged period, say a month or more, Murphy would be the most likely to move to first base. Mets executives actually discussed that earlier in camp, before Davis was diagnosed with a non-serious lung infection, and there was internal concern he could have something more grave that might sideline him for a while.
“When we were concerned about the infection earlier in camp, immediately we started saying, ‘Hey, what are we going to do here if it’s a month?’ And, ‘What are we going to do if it’s two months?’” Collins said. “The thought was, ‘Hey, let’s leave Duda in right field. Let’s just leave him out there. We can put Murph over there because we’ve got middle infielders that we can play.’”
Turner has never played an official game at first base, although he noted he did get limited action there last spring training, and also was used there a couple of times in the Dominican Republic during winter ball during the 2010-11 offseason.
He minimized the transition, saying about Thursday’s dabbling there: “Ike’s been over there by himself the last three days. It was a chance to give him a little bit of a blow and for me to get a little work in over there. It felt pretty good, actually. I took a few throws from the guys on the left side of the infield and got to get down in the dirt and pick one from Ruben [Tejada]. It was good.”
Said Davis: “One thing you have to know about Justin, he’s like a chameleon. The guy can do anything in the infield. He can play any position.”
Collins said Turner actually will play second base in Friday’s first intrasquad game. The manager plans to rotate him among the four infield positions.