Three key Mets to watch in 2011

Pitcher Francisco Rodriguez #75 of the New York

Pitcher Francisco Rodriguez #75 of the New York Mets throws against the St. Louis Cardinals at Digital Domain Park. (March 3, 2011) (Credit: Getty Images)

1. JASON BAY

The Mets' leftfielder can probably thank Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo for allowing him to fly under the radar during spring training. Few players on this team have more to prove than Bay, whose mysterious lack of power last year limited him to six home runs in 348 at-bats before a season-ending concussion. He'll need a fast start to avoid being targeted early by fans.

2. FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ

K-Rod should use the cha-ching of a cash register as his entrance music this season because every time the bullpen door opens, he gets that much closer to his $17.5-million vesting option. Rodriguez needs 55 games finished to reach that jackpot, and it will be interesting to see if the Mets enable him to get there. Even if the team falls out the race, this could provide some late-season suspense.

3. JOSE REYES

Here's the biggest question with the Mets' shortstop: Will he even be around to watch after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline? It's a Catch-22 scenario with Reyes. The better he is this season -- in the walk year of his contract -- the less of a chance he has to re-sign with the Mets. If Reyes stays healthy, the numbers will be there, and he could bring back a decent player or two in a trade.

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