PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The Wilmer Flores Outfield Experiment will begin later this week, and as far as he’s concerned, bring it on. With the Mets looking for ways to insert Flores’ lefty-smashing bat into the lineup as often as possible, the only unexplored option remaining is a corner outfield spot, as his pro resume already includes every infield position.
“I learned how to play first base to get in the lineup,” he said. “If I have to play the outfield to get one more game, I’ll do it.”
Flores was lined up behind Todd Frazier at third base for drills during Monday’s first full-squad workout, but he soon will be taking instruction from outfield coach Ruben Amaro Jr. to get up to speed — even with almost zero experience to draw from.
Flores can’t remember the last time he was in the outfield, so he’ll be starting from scratch. “It’s not like I’m going to be out there a lot,” he said. “Just as an option. I don’t want to sit on the bench. I want to play.”
The Mets tried the same thing with Jose Reyes last year, but he didn’t start his tutorial until later in the regular season — and it showed. Reyes started one game in left, playing five innings, and entered another in center. Neither spot was very comfortable for him, and the Mets have yet to approach him about going back out there in spring training.
The difference with Flores is that his splits against lefthanded pitching are so dramatically better that the Mets figure it might be worth pushing the envelope with him. Flores hit .291 with an .862 OPS and seven homers in 110 plate appearances against lefties last season.
Mickey Callaway addressed the Mets before Monday’s first full-squad workout and seemed to stay on message with building relationships as well as a winning roster. “I think they know what our expectations are as far as the playoffs,” Callaway said . . . Tim Tebow, wearing No. 83, took live batting practice on a back field. Tebow, who appears leaner than a year ago, has shortened his swing and looks more fluid in the batter’s box.