For Mets fans, manager Terry Collins said, Tuesday night would be a great glimpse into the future. For Wilmer Flores, though, his gift was the present.
There wasn't time for a party, nor were there any candles to blow out. No need. Flores' wish already had come true.
The infielder celebrated his 22nd birthday by making his highly anticipated major-league debut in the Mets' 3-2 win over the Rockies at Citi Field.
"That's what you work for," said Flores, one of the Mets' prized prospects. "You play in the minor leagues to get to the big leagues . . . Getting called up on my birthday, I can't ask for more."
But another youngster -- and Young -- helped put the icing on top.
Eric Young Jr. motored from second to score the winning run in the eighth on Juan Lagares' infield single, a chopper to the right side off Wilton Lopez (1-4).
"I didn't think he was going to score on that play; that's amazing," said Lagares, whose two-run triple gave the Mets a 2-0 lead in the first.
Scott Atchison (2-0) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win and LaTroy Hawkins got the save, with the help of first baseman Ike Davis' diving snag of Yorvit Torrealba's foul liner.
Flores, batting sixth, went 0-for-4 and committed an error at third base in the sixth. Nevertheless, he was cheered loudly during introductions and before each at-bat.
"That ground ball I couldn't handle it. It was a little faster than I thought," Flores said. "But I have a lot of confidence in myself."
With the Mets (50-60) a postseason long shot, consolation is the potential of their young players. And to the Mets fans Tuesday night, youth was served.
Jenrry Mejia, 23, pitched well before a 17-minute delay in the sixth disrupted his rhythm. Pinch hitter Charlie Blackmon's bunt foul struck plate umpire Manny Gonzalez in the jaw, causing the stoppage. When play resumed, Blackmon homered to tie it at 2.
Mejia went 51/3 innings, allowing four hits and two runs (one earned) with two walks and seven strikeouts in a no-decision.
Injuries to David Wright (hamstring) and Bobby Parnell (neck) opened the door for Flores to receive the call-up from Triple-A Las Vegas.
"It was time," Collins said. "It's time to get him up here and get a taste of what it's going to be like to play at this level."
Flores played mostly second base at Triple-A with only four games this season at third -- all in the days before the promotion. Collins said he isn't sure what position Flores eventually will settle into but insisted "we'll find a spot for him."
The Mets say with near certainty Flores will be a capable big-league hitter, but defense has been deemed his weakness in scouting reports. Flores' sixth-inning error -- whiffing on a sharp grounder by Troy Tulowitzki -- gave credence to those concerns.
"I'm always reminded of Eric Chavez," Mets GM Sandy Alderson said of the former Oakland A's third baseman. "As a minor leaguer, he was considered a liability defensively."
Chavez went on to win six Gold Gloves.
The Mets signed Flores out of Venezuela in 2007. Before being called up, he hit .321 with 15 homers, 86 RBI and an .887 OPS in Las Vegas.
"We've been talking all summer about these young players that are the future," Collins said. "Sky's the limit offensively for [Flores]. We're gonna see if he can bring something to the table."
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