Add Justin Turner to list of walking wounded

Mets Justin Turner at bat during a game

Mets Justin Turner at bat during a game against the Washington Nationals in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (Feb. 23, 2013) (Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- As the Mets' latest injured player was being tended to on the Tradition Field infield grass Saturday, a team executive was walking through the stands and not looking at the field. The executive was asked if he was aware what was going on.

"I don't want to look," he said.

The injured player was Justin Turner, whose tenure as David Wright's third-base fill-in lasted three innings plus one batter.

Turner sprained his right ankle after stumbling while fielding a routine grounder. He fell to his knees, threw wildly for an error and was removed from the game by manager Terry Collins.

Turner limped around the clubhouse but otherwise seemed OK. He was taken for X-rays, the results of which will not be announced until Sunday.

That's not all: Daniel Murphy, who like Wright has a rib-cage strain, was supposed to play in a minor-league game this weekend. Instead, he rested Saturday because of what was reported variously as "soreness," "stiffness" and "fatigue" after he ramped up his activity Friday.

"It wasn't a setback," general manager Sandy Alderson insisted. "Just a little fatigue. So we sat him out today."

The Mets also are dealing with Johan Santana's shoulder weakness, Frank Francisco's inflamed elbow and Kirk Nieuwenhuis' bruised knee.

Wright, scheduled to return to Mets camp Sunday, will be on the second day of a three-to-five-day timeout so he can rest his moderately strained rib-cage muscle in his left side.

The injury, which occurred during the World Baseball Classic, could keep Wright out of more than spring training games. If Wright has to start the season on the disabled list, Turner is the first choice to start the April 1 season opener at third base -- if he can after Saturday's mishap.

"In order to catch my balance, I put all my weight on my right foot and I turned it over," Turner said. "I don't think it's too bad, though. I walked off on my own and it's not too swollen, so hopefully -- as long as it doesn't blow up overnight and get too bad -- hopefully it'll just be a couple days."

Turner was replaced by Brandon Hicks, 27, who was acquired from the Athletics to be Ruben Tejada's backup at shortstop. Other candidates for third-base duty are Zach Lutz and Brian Bixler.

Lutz, Hicks and Bixler is an excellent name for a law firm, but Mets fans probably don't want to see any of them at third base or second base on April 1. Lutz (.344) and Bixler (.308) have had excellent springs at the plate; Hicks (.133) has not.

Minor-leaguer Lutz, 26, is a corner infielder who has seen time in leftfield in spring training. Bixler, 30, is a utilityman who has appeared in 183 major-league games for three teams.

So it would be really good for the Mets if Wright and Murphy heal quickly. But rib-cage injuries tend to take a while; Wright missed a month of spring training last year with a strain on the same side. When he was out with a broken bone in his back in 2011, Turner filled in.

"Someone's got to do it if he's not there," Turner said.

At the moment, that's all the Mets can count on: Someone will play second base and third base on April 1.

"We've got to get the players ready that are remaining here," Collins said. "When we get to the end of spring training, we'll decide which 25 are physically able to go north."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

MLB video

advertisement | advertise on newsday