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With Beltran gone, who will seize the opportunity?

Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets

Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets celebrates his third inning run against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field. (July 20, 2011) Credit: Jim McIsaac

CINCINNATI -- While it is for Mets fans to judge whether the Carlos Beltran trade ended any hope the team had of making the playoffs, Mets players are free to see personal opportunity in attempting to overcome great odds.

"All along," David Wright said, "with the coaching staff, with the front office, with the guys we have, we’ve been resilient. We’ve had injuries, we’ve had distractions, whatever you want to call them, that we’ve had to deal with and I think it’s made us stronger as a unit. And we’re going to need that going forward. Wtihout Carlos, there’s going to be a hole, but there’s going to be an opportunity.

"Some of those younger guys have to step up. Lucas Duda had a phenomenal game [as Beltran’s right-field replacement Wednesday night]. I think he’s ready to step up and kind of fill that void. Everybody’s got to pitch in a little more."

Wednesday night’s clockwork 8-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds was only the first game without Beltran, but manager Terry Collins was bubbling about Duda’s home run, second-base fill-in Willie Harris "making some nice plays, David Wright making a great play at third." He even made the point that Jason Bayn still struggling mightily with a .223 batting average, "hit four balls on the nose and got nothing.

"We’ve talked about how there’s ways to help out," Collins said, and how Daniel Murphy -- a man without a position when spring training started, exemplifies how players might take advantage of new playing time.

"I think of all the guys, and there’s a lot of them that are grabbing it -- [Justin] Turner, a lot of guys -- Murphy is doing that. Daniel Murphy, after last year, losing his job, basically, to an injury, has said, ‘I belong here. I was a good player two years ago and I’m going to show everybody I belong back in the lineup on an everyday basis."

Angel Pagan offered heartfelt praise for Beltran -- "a great teammate, a great mentor to me" -- but argued that now, "There’s going to be some guys who’ll get an opportunity. It’s going to be a challenge to us. We lost a big part of offensive lineup, but we’ve got guys who can get it done."

Mike Pelfrey, after pitching his second complete game of the season, noted that, after Beltran’s farewell, Harris said to his gathered mates, "Let’s make the playoffs, too. Let’s beat Carlos Beltran."

As a ballclub, Murphy said, "We’ve really bought into that. It’s about playing good baseball. What do we got -- 55 games left? That’s a lot of baseball. We’re starting to peak right now."

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