Jordany Valdespin will start ahead of Collin Cowgill when the Mets open a three-game series Friday against the Marlins. The move was expected. As manager Terry Collin said on Thursday, he planned to start Valdespin at some point though he was undecided on what position he would play defensively.
"We're going to see three righthanded starters and pretty much a dominant righthanded bullpen," Collins said of the Mets' series against the Marlins. "So I thought it was a perfect time to get our lefthanded hitters in there to see what they can do."
The lefthanded hitting Valdespin emerged as one of the Mets' best players in spring training. However, early in camp Collins said he viewed Valdespin as an option to play as a defensive replacement in centerfield as opposed to being part of a platoon situation with the righthanded hitting Cowgill.
However, during his media briefing on Friday, Collins sounded more willing to give Valdespin chances to carve out more playing time in centerfield.
"We'll find out," Collins said "We won't know until we run him out there a few times and see what he does. But he's so athletic, there's no reason why he can't go out there and make the adjustment. Again, if he's going to make a difference with the bat in our lineup, we've got to get him in there to find that out."
Even though Valdespin didn't see extended action in center even during camp, Collins said he might improve simply by shagging fly balls during batting practice.
"He didn't get a lot of time out there but I'll tell you what he's done, and he's done it every day here so far," Collins said. "He takes his ground balls early at second base. And then batting practice starts, and he goes in the outfield and takes balls of the bats. To be honest, there's no better way to get ready to play the outfield than that."
The Mets announced last week that Cowgill would not only start at center to begin the year, but that it would be an everyday job, despite the fact that Cowgill historically struggles against righthanded pitching. However, Cowgill has done little at the plate outside of his Opening Day grand slam, hitting .167 (2-for-12) in the first three games of the season.
The Marlins will start 24-year-old righty Alex Sanabia. He will be opposed by Mets righty Jeremy Hefner, who is making his first start of the season. The Mets will not see another lefthanded starter until Tuesday in Philadelphia, when the Phillies are scheduled to start Cliff Lee.
Juan Pierre LF
Placido Polanco 3B
Giancarlo Stanton RF
Greg Dobbs 1B
Justin Ruggiano CF
Rob Brantly C
Adeiny Hechacarria SS
Donovan Solano 2B
Alex Sanabia RHP
Jordany Valdespin CF
Daniel Murphy 2B
David Wright 3B
Ike Davis 1B
Marlon Byrd RF
Lucas Duda LF
John Buck C
Ruben Tejada SS
Jeremy Hefner RHP