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Wilmer Flores and fellow Venezuelan big-leaguers concerned about civil unrest at home

Wilmer Flores catches a ground ball during spring

Wilmer Flores catches a ground ball during spring training baseball practice on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Mets prospect Wilmer Flores borrowed a page from some of his countrymen in the major leagues, taking to social media Sunday to call for peace in his native Venezuela.

Civil unrest has broken out throughout the country, where President Nicolas Maduro has been accused of using excess force to quell demonstrators.

"Obviously, I'm really worried about it," said Flores, who still lives with his family in Venezuela. "My whole family's there. I wish I was there to support them, to be with them. I just hope that everything just calms down and that there's peace."

Flores' hometown became a flashpoint for the violence. Genesis Carmona, a 22-year-old beauty queen, was slain during a political protest in Valencia.

More than 60 big-leaguers from Venezuela appeared on Opening Day rosters last season, and many of them have used social media to express their hopes for peace.

"We just want them to feel like we're with them, that they're not alone," Flores said. "Major-league players are supporting them."

Spring rotation

Pitching prospect Rafael Montero is scheduled to start the Mets' Grapefruit League opener Friday against the Nationals. John Lannan is up the next day against the Marlins and Daisuke Matsuzaka goes Sunday against the Cardinals. The latter two are competing for the final spot in the rotation. Top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard is scheduled to start next Monday against the Braves and potential Opening Day starter Jon Niese follows March 4 against the Astros. Bartolo Colon goes against the Nationals March 5.

Terry Collins said Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler will start after the opening week. Both are expected to be in the starting rotation.

"We've got to see everybody," Collins said. "We've got to get seven or eight starters ready."


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