PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - The whiteboard in the Mets' clubhouse reminded players to bring their passports. After six sun-splashed weeks in Florida, the time had come to migrate. Next stop: Montreal's Olympic Stadium for a pair of exhibition games against the Blue Jays.
But this journey to the former home of the Expos will be much more than some nostalgic getaway. As Opening Day on Monday draws near, the Mets remain in a state of flux.
"Well, we certainly didn't get all the answers we wanted," manager Terry Collins said flatly Thursday after the Mets lost, 4-0, to the Nationals. "That's not a secret, due to the injuries and some of the other issues."
Thursday brought one firm decision: Long Beach product John Lannan earned a spot on the Opening Day roster, where he'll complement Scott Rice as a lefthanded option in the bullpen.
Lannan, 29, has been a starter since the Nationals drafted him in 2005, but with the Mets, he has embraced his new role. He sealed his roster spot with 11/3 innings of scoreless relief in his fourth outing in the last five games.
But the day brought little clarity to the team's other position battles. The Mets' first-base competition remains up in the air. To a certain extent, so do their choices of fifth starter, batting order and outfield alignment.
"We don't know who's going to play on Opening Day yet," Collins said. "We still have two days left."
A team source said the Mets intend to give Juan Lagares a spot on the Opening Day roster, though Collins stopped short of making a definitive call.
Lagares played well enough to earn a share of playing time along with Eric Young Jr. But if either one struggles offensively, the source said the Mets won't wait long to reshuffle their options.
Lagares made another outstanding defensive play, racing toward the gap in right-center to rob an extra-base hit from Jose Lobaton. Young also enjoyed a strong day, going 3-for-4 to up his exhibition average to .298.
Said Collins: "Certainly, we've got to figure out how to get those guys in the lineup on a somewhat regular basis for sure."
Jenrry Mejia, 24, will make the start Friday night against the Blue Jays, with Daisuke Matsuzaka expected to pitch Saturday. Team officials have maintained this week that both have a real shot at the No. 5 job.
"I feel pretty good," said Mejia, who played down Collins' concerns about a bunion that cut short his previous start. "I feel so excited to pitch [Friday night].''
The Mets might need both pitchers in the rotation if Jon Niese suffers a setback as he works his way back from left elbow inflammation. But they also might be forced to choose only one -- yet another decision that appears likely to come down to the wire.
Mejia almost surely would qualify for early arbitration and a hefty raise next season if he begins the year in the rotation. But a team source said the Mets don't view his contract status as a major factor in the decision.
Mejia has a greater upside, and the source said to some in the organization, that trumps Matsuzaka's edge in experience.
"They both have thrown extremely well, so it's made it a very difficult decision on all of us," pitching coach Dan Warthen said. "Which is a nice thing to have."