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If Cora is replacement at short, he gives idea thumbs up

New York Mets' Alex Cora, right, follows through

New York Mets' Alex Cora, right, follows through on a single as San Diego Padres catcher Eliezer Alfonzo, left, looks on. (August 8, 2009) Photo Credit: AP

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Good thing Alex Cora got his thumbs fixed. He's going to need them if the Mets decide to go with the 34-year-old veteran as Jose Reyes' replacement.

Cora had surgery to repair torn ligaments in both thumbs last year, and the Mets made him a rather expensive insurance policy by re-signing him to a one-year, $2-million contract. Now, with Reyes out for anywhere from two to eight weeks with a thyroid condition, Cora seems to have the edge over Double-A prospect Ruben Tejada as the short-term sub. Cora believes he can handle it.

"That's something that I want to prove," Cora said. "There's a lot of talk [about me] - he's 34, getting old, with no tools, you know? I think I was playing good baseball before I got hurt. Everybody knew about one hand, but I knew about both hands."

With the Mets decimated by injuries last season, Cora played as long as he could with the torn ligaments until he finally relented and had surgery on his right thumb Aug. 20. He waited a month after that to get the left one repaired and then played winter ball to get in shape.

Jerry Manuel also can consider Tejada, who played 134 games last season for Double-A Binghamton. He's been getting the bulk of playing time in Reyes' absence, but the front office doesn't believe he's ready for the majors for an extended period. "He has some tremendous instincts," Manuel said. "I like him a lot. I think it's an option."

Extra bases

Mike Pelfrey allowed four hits and three runs in three innings in his second Grapefruit League start but was encouraged by his four strikeouts. He used his new split-fingered fastball a few times and is pleased with its progress. He also said his bruised knee was not a factor. "It felt totally fine," he said . . . Ryota Igarashi is struggling in his audition for the setup role. He allowed three hits and two runs in one inning as his ERA climbed to 7.20 . . . Mike Jacobs and Jason Pridie homered in the Mets' 8-2 loss to the Red Sox.

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