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Emaus on verge of winning Mets' 2B job

Brad Emaus during a spring training workout at

Brad Emaus during a spring training workout at Digital Domain Park in Port St. Lucie. (Feb. 23, 2011) Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Mets have yet to officially name Brad Emaus as their starting second baseman, but they're slowly doing it through the process of elimination.

The first casualty was Luis Castillo, who was released Friday, and general manager Sandy Alderson bounced two more from the competition Wednesday.

Justin Turner was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo before Wednesday afternoon's game against the Cardinals, and Alderson later removed Daniel Murphy while talking to reporters during the Mets' 5-3 loss at Roger Dean Stadium. With Emaus starting at second base and Murphy at third, the GM used that to explain the club's thinking. "We've only got so many games left and so he's still in the mix," he said of Murphy. "But I'd say that the lineup card is revealing as anything I can say."

Alderson can only hope the stat sheet is misleading when it comes to Emaus. He went 0-for-3 Wednesday to drop his batting average to .216 (8-for-37) and on-base percentage to .341. The Mets selected Emaus from Toronto in the first round of the Rule 5 draft for his offense; he batted .298 with a .395 OBP in 87 games at Triple-A Las Vegas last season. Emaus also hit 10 homers in 309 at-bats.

"For sure the offense side is what intrigues us," manager Terry Collins said. "If you look at his numbers this spring, he sees a lot of pitches, he works the count, he gets on base. We know he's got some power. His minor-league stats dictate that. So I just want to see it against major-league pitching a little bit on a consistent basis and that's why we're doing what we're doing."

By spring training standards, the difference between Emaus and Turner was marginal, aside from a very crucial distinction. The Mets will lose Emaus if he does not make the team's 25-man roster, and in that case, must be offered back to the Blue Jays, his original club. Turner, with minor-league options remaining, can easily be stowed away as a backup plan.

"I think that from the beginning, Justin was at a little bit of a disadvantage because he has options," Alderson said, "and I think he probably recognized that as well. I think that our direction is becoming a little bit clearer, and to the extent that the players don't differentiate themselves, that's what the front office is for."

With Turner out of the mix, Emaus, who turns 25 on Monday, was feeling considerably better about his chances. It seems that Collins' stated preference for Luis Hernandez is not going to matter much to the front office, and Murphy has been tentatively slotted for a utility role.

"We're getting there," Emaus said before the game. "I haven't heard anything, so I'm just trying to go out and play well. After a month of doing this, there's no pressure. At this point now, there's no sense worrying about it."

Assistant GM J.P. Ricciardi is a proponent of Emaus from their days in the Blue Jays organization, and the Mets would rather give him an early shot in the majors then lose him outright. Alderson, as he works to rebuild this team, has to keep roster flexibility in mind.

"It's my job to take the 25 names that he gives me and get them to win," Collins said, "and so that's the way we'll work it. With everybody's input, we'll make the right decision."

That didn't make it any easier to digest for Turner, who was understandably disappointed to be knocked out of the second-base competition.

"I would have liked to have seen how the cards would have fallen if we were in the same boat," said Turner, referring to Emaus' Rule 5 status. "I definitely got my at-bats, and I feel like I may have underperformed a little bit offensively. I'm obviously capable of a lot more than that, but it is what it is."

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