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The Mets' second base competition, Joba Chamberlain and Neftali Feliz

Greetings from Port St. Lucie, where the weather is beautiful yet the outlook is bleak.

Sorry, I just don't see good things happening for these Mets. I'll get more into it in my column for tomorrow. For now, let's talk second base.

It's apparent that, as Mike Puma reported in today's New York Post, Terry Collins has a strong affection for Luis Hernandez, 26, who has been a career-long Quadruple-A-type player and who earned a day's worth of headlines last September when he homered for the Mets after breaking his foot

Collins said the Post story was "premature," but premature doesn't mean wrong. Given that the best second-base candidate has been Luis Castillo and that Collins doesn't appear to be a big fan of the veteran's, Hernandez has a real chance to win the job. 

"I like his enthusiasm. I love his defense," Collins said of Hernandez. "He's a switch-hitter. He's a baseball player." The manager then cited a recent at-bat in which Hernandez fouled off a few pitches before hitting a grounder to the right side, advancing a runner.

We'll see how long it lasts, if it even starts. Hernandez has a brutal .584 career OPS in 290 major-league career plate appearances and .633 in 3,324 minor-league career appearances. Collins began camp talking about how he wants offense from his second baseman. Today, he said he didn't feel it was necessary for a second baseman to provide offense.

Castillo is starting tonight, but the safe bet is on his being released by Opening Day. As it has been all along, of course.

Brad Emaus? He just hasn't been very good. He can be offered back to Toronto for $25,000. Mets ownership could use the cash.

Daniel Murphy? Utility guy.

Justin Turner? Back to the minors, I'd assume. He also has been terrible.

The Mets were hoping that second base would be difficult decision, in that they would have an array of good choices. Hasn't happened. So now it's a difficult decision for the wrong reasons.

--Carlos Beltran will re-start "baseball activites" today, and while Collins won't rule out Beltran being ready on Opening Day, that seems like a longshot.

--Johan Santana played catch, and Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen proclaimed: Best day yet."

 --Joba Chamberlain's oblique strain is worse than originally thought. Not a shocker. If Chamberlain has to start the season on the disabled list, the Yankees obviously have the bullpen depth to cover for him. 

--Interesting situation in Rangers camp, as Neftali Feliz now says he wants to start, and that's a proclmation that has Ron Washington publicly stumping for GM Jon Daniels to acquire a veteran closer if Feliz moves to the rotation.

Feliz obviously would help the Rangers more as a starter, if he's good, but as we discussed last week, such a move can be a tough sell. Even internally.

--Another day, another Phillies injury. This time, it's Placido Polanco.

--Have a great night.

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