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Kirk Nieuwenhuis still can make Mets' outfield

Mets' Kirk Nieuwenhuis at bat during an intra-squad

Mets' Kirk Nieuwenhuis at bat during an intra-squad game in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (Feb. 22, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

VIERA, Fla. -- With only two spring training games remaining for the Mets, it appears that outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis might get the lion's share of opportunities at the plate.

"We're going to try to get him out there but we've got other people we've got to get some at-bats,'' manager Terry Collins said. "We've got to decide who's going to play center. Therefore, we've got to get Kirk some at-bats.''

Nieuwenhuis' chances of making the team appeared sunk when he missed three weeks in March with a knee injury. However, with the Mets in need of defensive help in the outfield, Nieuwenhuis is positioned to make the team despite a lack of at-bats.

Nieuwenhuis went 1-for-3 with a walk and a pair of strikeouts in Thursday's 5-1 loss to the Nationals. He's hitting .094, but he's still under consideration.


Hefner will pitch

Jeremy Hefner will pitch a few innings sometime in the next two days, Collins said. He has been nursing a bruised right elbow since being struck by a comebacker on Tuesday. He still is scheduled to make his regular-season debut April 5 against the Marlins.

Justin Turner received treatment for his strained left calf, though Collins must check on his status Friday.


Tapia roughed up

Pitching prospect Domingo Tapia got touched up for four runs in two innings against the Nationals.

The Dominican-born righty, 21, allowed two homers in 20 games (19 starts) and 1082/3 innings with Class A Savannah last year but struggled with his command against the Nationals, allowing two homers in a single inning. He gave up four hits and four runs and threw three wild pitches.

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