Wilmer Flores' progress slowed by ankle injury; Travis d'Arnaud's walk-off hit beats Marlins

Wilmer Flores loses his bat while batting during Wilmer Flores loses his bat while batting during the seventh inning of a game against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field. (Sept. 15, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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If there is any consolation in playing out the string for the Mets, it's the opportunity to see exactly what they have in their young players. And in Sunday's 1-0, 12-inning victory over the Marlins, the Mets caught a few more telling glimpses.

Rookie Travis d'Arnaud, who has struggled in his new role as the Mets' starting catcher, lined a bases-loaded single in the 12th for his first walk-off hit at any level of baseball. Recently acquired reliever Vic Black, who has the makings of a future bullpen stalwart, picked up his first major-league win by pitching an inning of scoreless relief.

Both have used what's left of the season as a springboard for 2014, but it hasn't worked out that way for another highly touted prospect, Wilmer Flores.

Injuries to both ankles have slashed his playing time and dimmed his chances to shine since his promotion shortly after third baseman David Wright went down with a hamstring injury. Now Flores' chances may be dwindling.

"I've been feeling better at the plate, seeing the ball better, waiting for good pitches," said Flores, who has gone 1-for-4 in each of the last two games, his first back-to-back appearances in nearly three weeks.

But Wright might be back as soon as Tuesday, squeezing the 22-year-old Flores out of time at third base.

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Daniel Murphy remains entrenched at second and the Mets have committed to giving Lucas Duda an extended audition at first base. That leaves Flores as the odd man out at a time when the Mets thought they might get a better sense of his value, whether it's within the organization or as part of a trade in the offseason.

Flores injured his left ankle while at Triple-A Las Vegas just before the All-Star break. He tweaked his right ankle shortly after his promotion Aug. 6. Since then, manager Terry Collins has reduced his playing time to rest his ankles. "You salute him because he's been very patient," Collins said. "He knows his ankles are bothering him, but that's what shows you he can't pivot on that front side."

After his promotion, Flores started 17 of the Mets' first 22 games but has started only six of their last 17.

"I'm not that guy that has been on the DL a lot, so it's kind of hard," said Flores, who is hitting .214. "I'm still watching these games, still learning from it."

Flores has spent much of his time observing the team's veterans, looking for ways to improve his own routine. Still, it's no substitute for playing.

Notes & quotes: Dillon Gee tossed 71/3 shutout innings but was matched by Marlins righty Tom Koehler. The Stony Brook product allowed three hits in eight scoreless innings . . . Wright took batting practice on the field and participated in other baseball activities to test his right hamstring. The team will huddle Tuesday to decide if he's ready to be activated from the disabled list . . . Reliever Frank Francisco will be out at least three more games with a bruised right hand. Francisco took a comebacker to the hand Saturday night.

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