Mets' outfield is set: It's Duda, Cowgill and Byrd

Lucas Duda watches the flight on his seventh

Lucas Duda watches the flight on his seventh inning home run. (April 7, 2012) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Mets manager Terry Collins planned on addressing his team Saturday night upon its return to New York. He promised a simple message: "Let's win.'' After seven injury-filled weeks in Florida, though, fulfilling that goal could be complicated.

The Mets broke camp after getting one-hit in a 7-1 loss to the Orioles, their final pit stop before heading back to Citi Field.

For the first time, Collins revealed his Opening Day outfield, one that will consist of leftfielder Lucas Duda, centerfielder Collin Cowgill and rightfielder Marlon Byrd. Also for the first time, he said all three will be considered everyday players, a surprising development.

At one point, the Mets appeared to have two platoon spots in the outfield. They wound up with none.

"He had a pretty good spring,'' Collins said of Cowgill, who finished spring training hitting .303. "He hit righties as good as anybody. If it doesn't work out, we've got Kirk Nieuwenhuis, so we've got some options.''

Meanwhile, third baseman David Wright and second baseman Daniel Murphy again showed that their intercostal injuries will not keep them out of the Opening Day lineup.

Collins said Cowgill will lead off, followed by Murphy and Wright. Cleanup hitter Ike Davis will be followed by Byrd and Duda. John Buck, Ruben Tejada and pitcher Jon Niese will round out the Mets' first lineup of the season, one that looks far more formidable with Wright in the middle.

"It's nice to see some pitches,'' said the Mets' captain, who finished 0-for-3. "And some of the at-bats was just kind of about that, just to go up there and see some pitches and get deep in counts. But I think it was definitely beneficial, no question.''

Nevertheless, the Mets returned home with at least one more piece of unfinished business. Utilityman Justin Turner, who suffered a strained left calf this past week, will be reevaluated after Sunday's workout at Citi Field. If the Mets put him on the disabled list, utilityman Zach Lutz will take his spot.

"Everybody's ready to get out of here,'' Collins said. "We're all set to get out there.''

Of course, "all set'' may be a relative term for the Mets, especially when it comes to the outfield.

Jordany Valdespin hit .313 in spring training, emerging as perhaps the hottest hitter in Mets camp, but will begin the season squeezed out of a starting job. Meanwhile, with Duda and Byrd in the corners, the Mets felt the need to carry Nieuwenhuis, even though he hit .086 in 35 exhibition at-bats.

"He's the best outfielder we've got, in my opinion,'' Collins said of Nieuwenhuis, who missed three weeks with a bone bruise. "We think defensively, he can really play centerfield, so we thought we could take him, and hopefully if he starts swinging like last year, he's going to get a lot of playing time.''

Notes & quotes: Top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler announced via Twitter that he will start on Opening Day when Triple-A Las Vegas faces Sacramento.

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