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Mets' outfield still not set

Mets Lucas Duda gets ready to bat against

Mets Lucas Duda gets ready to bat against the Washington Nationals in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (Feb. 23, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

JUPITER, Fla. -- While the Mets believe they have the right pieces to the puzzle that is their shaky outfield, they still must decide how those pieces ultimately will fit.

"I think we've got a sense of who the five or six are who might be on the team," general manager Sandy Alderson said Friday. "How exactly they're used is something that we'll talk about over the next week or so. What we have is what we're going to have, and we're not entirely displeased with that."

With only nine days left until the season opener on April 1, outfielders Lucas Duda, Jordany Valdespin, Marlon Byrd, Collin Cowgill and Mike Baxter appear to be the favorites to emerge with spots on the roster. Nevertheless, manager Terry Collins said his outfield remains a work in progress. "It's going to go down to pretty much the end," he said.

Collins said it is only "a possibility" that Duda will play every day in leftfield, though he sounded more bullish about the prospect earlier. Meanwhile, the Mets could go with platoons in either rightfield or centerfield, a decision that hinges on where the Mets wind up using Byrd or Valdespin. Collins indicated that the righthanded-hitting Byrd will play every day as opposed to being part of a platoon.

"Due to his background, he should be a guy that if he's out there, we need to find out what he brings to the table because he has a track record of being a good player, a pretty good offensive player," Collins said. "I want to see early enough what he can do."

Collins still is considering Byrd in centerfield, though privately, some in the organization doubt the veteran's ability to handle the position. If Byrd plays center, Cowgill and Valdespin could wind up splitting duties in right.

The Mets also might give Valdespin an expanded role in the outfield, especially after his torrid spring training. He entered play Friday night hitting .348 and tripled in his first at-bat against the Marlins. "I think he can handle the outfield," Alderson said. "It's a question of how much he contributes with the bat . . . It's tough to keep him out of the lineup."

Regardless of how they ultimately piece things together, Alderson indicated that the Mets don't intend to acquire any help for the outfield.

Notes & quotes: Johan Santana will remain in Florida when the team breaks camp, Collins said, yet another indication that he almost certainly will begin the season on the disabled list. Collins said Santana would benefit from avoiding cold weather in New York as he continues to strengthen his surgically repaired left shoulder . . . Third baseman David Wright, working his way back from an intercostal strain, took grounders, played catch and ran with no issues Friday, though he did not swing a bat . . . Second baseman Daniel Murphy, who also is dealing with an intercostal strain, took batting practice. However, his status for Opening Day is murky.

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