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Emaus takes firm grip on second-base job

Brad Emaus and Daniel Murphy during a

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

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- One day after the Mets took a machete to his competition for second base, Brad Emaus made them look smart during a 16-3 rout of the Cardinals Thursday at Digital Domain Park. Emaus went 4-for-4 with a double and home run, effectively squashing Luis Hernandez's fading hopes.

The Mets had been waiting for a breakout game from Emaus, who entered the day batting .216, and he finally gave them one.

Afterward, manager Terry Collins could barely hold back a grin when a reporter asked if Emaus had nailed down the job with his throttling of the Cardinals.

"Ah, he played very, very well today," Collins said, smiling. "I think it all comes with the fact that he's been out there on a consistent basis. That's the best way to tell what a guy can do."

The Mets had spent most of spring training searching for a reason to keep Emaus, a Rule 5 pick who otherwise would be lost if he did not make the Opening Day roster. Now that he is clicking offensively, with an on-base percentage back up to .396, it's more of a feel-good story for the team's decision-makers. "It's about getting ready for the season now," Emaus said. "Those are the numbers that count."

The Mets put up some serious numbers against the Cardinals. They had five homers, with David Wright, Angel Pagan, Josh Thole and Matt den Dekker also going deep.

Fifth man out?

Chris Capuano wasn't pleased with his performance against the Cardinals (eight hits and three runs in five innings). Capuano, the club's fifth starter, believed he left too many pitches up in the strike zone, and attributed that to mechanical issues he hopes to fix. "I'm glad I have one more start," he said.

The Mets haven't decided when he'll make his first regular-season start. With April 4 an off day, they may choose to skip him through the first turn. Said Collins, "That's a discussion in progress."

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