Jordany Valdespin is playing his way into Opening Day lineup

Jordany Valdespin hits an RBI-single during the eighth Jordany Valdespin hits an RBI-single during the eighth inning of a spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla. (March 13, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets hoped Daniel Murphy would play in a minor-league exhibition game this weekend for his first action of spring training. He didn't.

With Murphy still battling stiffness in his strained rib-cage muscle, manager Terry Collins said the second baseman will rest until at least Wednesday. Murphy's availability for the April 1 season opener is in doubt.

Murphy's bad fortune could turn into Jordany Valdespin's best opportunity. Valdespin went 2-for-2 with a home run and walk and played an error-free game at second base Sunday in the Mets' 2-1 loss to the Braves.

Valdespin homered leading off the bottom of the first against righthander Julio Teheran, one of only three hits by the Mets. Valdespin is batting .378 with four homers and eight RBIs and he leads the team in homers and RBIs.

The Mets also are without infielders David Wright (rib-cage strain) and Justin Turner (sprained ankle). Turner, who was injured Saturday, said he hopes to play again by Thursday. His injury appears to be the least serious among the Mets' infielders.

Valdespin has seen time mostly in the outfield as a Met, but he is a natural second baseman. He's also a solid option in the leadoff spot, at least against righthanders.

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To be ready by the opener, Collins said Murphy needs to get into a game "probably by next weekend, for sure. If he's not back in a game, you're down to seven days, and that's not a lot of time [for] somebody who hasn't done anything all spring to get him ready."

Nice Niese

Jonathon Niese, the presumptive Opening Day starter, allowed one run in five innings and has an 0.71 ERA this spring. Johan Santana (shoulder weakness), who played catch for a third straight day, is not expected to be ready for the opener.

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