PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Daniel Murphy, out since March 19 with a right hamstring strain, is progressing nicely enough that general manager Sandy Alderson now thinks the second baseman could be ready for the April 6 season opener in Washington.

"We're a little more hopeful today," Alderson said Tuesday of Murphy, who could begin playing in games next week. "I think it was from the results of the MRI, the doctor's evaluation and just how Daniel himself feels. A combination of those things."

Shortstop Wilmer Flores hit and took ground balls in his first action since fouling a pitch off the top of his left foot on Sunday.

"Fortunately that looks like it's just a day or two or three," Alderson said.

Reliever Vic Black (shoulder weakness) played catch for the first time since being shut down, but he is looking less likely for the opener.

"I think Vic's a question mark at this point," Alderson said. "I'm not sure where he'll be on Opening Day."

Gee allows one run

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Dillon Gee, last year's Opening Day starter, threw four innings and allowed one run in the Mets' 4-3 loss to the Astros. Gee gave up four hits, walked one and struck out one.

David Wright hit his third home run, a two-run shot to left in the third off former Met Collin McHugh. The Mets have 26 homers in 22 spring games.

Extra bases

According to a source, the Mets are unlikely to pursue lefthander reliever Joe Beimel, who was released by Texas after allowing 11 runs in three spring innings. Beimel, 37, had a 2.20 ERA for Seattle last year . . . Among the Mets traveling to Tampa to face the Yankees Wednesday are Travis d'Arnaud, Lucas Duda and Juan Lagares. Rafael Montero will pitch . . . Giants running back Rashad Jennings threw out the ceremonial first pitch.