Wilmer Flores hopes offseason training pays off on field

Mets infielder Wilmer Flores fields a grounder during Mets infielder Wilmer Flores fields a grounder during spring training Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Wilmer Flores' first taste of the big leagues did not go exactly as planned. Although the infield prospect enjoyed flashes of success, ankle injuries marred his stint with the Mets during the second half last year.

This week, Flores arrived at camp feeling healthy and fit, the product of his efforts at a Michigan training camp during the offseason. But unless an injury opens up a spot in the infield, he will likely be ticketed to begin the season at Triple-A Las Vegas.

"If he's not going to get a lot of playing time he's got to go play at his age because the ceiling on his bat is too high," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He's got to get at-bats."

Flores knocked in nine runs in his first six big-league games. But his ankle issues kept him from regular playing time. He eventually hit .211 with a homer and 13 RBIs in 101 plate appearances for the Mets.

"It was tough because first year in the big leagues, you want to be out there playing and giving it 100 percent," said Flores, who has been coveted for his potential at the plate. "But I just couldn't. When I had my chance, I did my best."

As his body has filled out in recent years, Flores has primarily played second base and third base. But Collins said the 22-year-old may see some time at shortstop for the first time since 2011.

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Collins hopes Flores' offseason work translates into quickness and agility that might help him at shortstop.

"It was a great camp," Flores said. "We worked on things we needed to work on -- speed, agility and getting stronger."

Extra bases

No players so far have asked to try the newly approved protective caps for pitchers, according to Mets equipment manager Kevin Kierst. Sample caps should be available to players late in the month when exhibition games begin . . . The Mets signed veteran pitchers Dana Eveland and Buddy Carlyle to minor-league deals, though neither was invited to big-league camp.

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