Infielder Jordany Valdespin looks on during a game against the...

Infielder Jordany Valdespin looks on during a game against the Baltimore Orioles. (June 20, 2012) Credit: David Pokress

With Ronny Cedeño and Ruben Tejada nearing a return to the Mets as they continue minor-league rehabilitation assignments, decision time is fast approaching.

That will make for uneasy days and perhaps a few sleepless nights for a few current members of the team. But Jordany Valdespin, already in his third major-league stint this season, finally may be able to stop squirming.

Manager Terry Collins spoke highly of the 24-year-old utility player before Wednesday night's 4-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles, sounding as though he can be an integral part of the club's long-term plan.

"As we're waiting for our power to really break out," Collins said, "he's been a guy who has come through."

After five minor-league seasons, the native of San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic shows every sign that those endless bus rides may be at an end. He reminded the Mets' decision-makers of the spark he can provide by racing to beat out a slow roller to second with one out in the fifth inning and scoring on Scott Hairston's double as part of a two-run inning that opened a 3-0 advantage en route to a three-game sweep.

Valdespin is hitting .333 (8-for-24) with seven runs, three doubles, one triple and eight RBIs in his last eight games. That hot stretch included a four-RBI outburst to help power an 11-2 rout at Tampa Bay on June 12 and a 2-for-4 effort with a run and two RBIs in Tuesday night's 5-0 blanking of the Orioles.

"He's got great energy when he plays," Collins said. "He's got some thunder in his bat. He can be dangerous. He can hit a homer."

Although Valdespin produced only two hits through his first 17 pinch-hit appearances, he went deep both times.

A pinch-hit, three-run blast in the ninth inning off Jonathan Papelbon supplied his first major-league hit on May 7 and made the difference in a 5-2 win over the Phillies.

That clutch drive said much about the rookie's makeup. He is not intimidated and he does not get cheated at the plate.

"It's my approach every time, see my pitch and swing hard," he said, leaning back in a chair at his Citi Field locker.

Collins likes the way Valdespin carries himself.

"He believes in what he can do," he said. "It's not a huge ego thing. He's just confident he's a good player, and there is nothing wrong with that."

The manager believes Valdespin will learn to temper some of his aggressiveness in time. He also sees a youngster savvy enough to cut down on those big cuts when the situation calls for that.

"What we've seen is when he gets two strikes on him, he says, 'I'm just going to hit the ball here.' "

The manager expects Cedeño, who went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left calf on May 27, to be the first of the rehabbing shortstops to be activated. He raised the possibility that he might be ready in time for this weekend's three-game series against the Yankees. Tejada is likely not far behind.

Valdespin knows change is coming. He is not concerned.

"I can't do anything about that," he said. "All I can do is play hard every day. They have a decision."

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