Emaus seems comfortable at second base

Brad Emaus and Daniel Murphy during a Brad Emaus and Daniel Murphy during a spring training workout at Digital Domain stadium in Port St. Lucie. (Feb. 23, 2011) Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

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MIAMI -- The Mets had no illusions about Brad Emaus in naming him their starting second baseman. At 6 feet, 205 pounds, with a fullback's build, Emaus won't be confused with some of the sleeker types who play the position.

"He's not going to be Orlando Hudson when it comes to range," said third-base coach Chip Hale, who handles the infield instruction for the Mets. "He's average. But he turns a double play as well as anybody."

In his major-league debut Friday, Emaus deftly started a 4-6-3 double play and later made a nice play on a hard-hit grounder with the infield pulled in. But the Mets basically gave him the job for his offensive potential, and like his teammates, Emaus didn't do much at the plate, going 0-for-2 with a walk.

One thing Emaus doesn't lack is confidence. It's not that he's cocky, but he has a self-assured manner on the field that indicates he won't be shaken by the responsibility.

"If you're going to play in the big leagues, you'd better believe in yourself," manager Terry Collins said. "Brad has handled it great. I hope he continues it."

Jose Reyes worked with Emaus for most of spring training and had little doubt that he would be able to handle the promotion. "He knows what he's doing over there," he said. "That's good to see from someone who's never been in the big leagues before. He already looks comfortable. I saw some of that with Ruben Tejada last year. He looked very natural out there too."

That type of demeanor puzzles Reyes because the shortstop admits he was a nervous wreck in making his Mets debut at age 19. "Oh, yeah," he said. "It was crazy for me."

Ask Emaus about his job assignment and he seems surprised by the attention. It's not as if he's learning the position, or was moved to second base, like Daniel Murphy. Emaus logged 266 games at second during four minor-league seasons -- compared to 128 at third -- and said it didn't feel much different playing the position Friday at Sun Life Stadium.

"It was the same game I've been playing my whole life," Emaus said.

That attitude impressed Collins, who didn't seem to have Emaus as his first choice in the second-base derby. Toward the end of spring training, Collins expressed a preference for Luis Hernandez -- a more established defender with major-league experience. But the front office had the final say, and Emaus, a Rule 5 pick on the recommendation of assistant GM J.P. Ricciardi, had the edge from the start of camp.

Still, it's not as though they view him as a finished product. Collins will give Murphy time at second base; he plans to start him Thursday against Roy Halladay in Philadelphia. And with those breaks, Collins intends to have Emaus work on his agility with strength and conditioning coach Brad Andress.

Now that Emaus has the job, the Mets won't try to change him. They'll just make sure they can maximize what he can do at the position.

"He is physically what he's going to be," Hale said. "When guys get to this level, the thing that makes them better is the experience."

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