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By Ed Coleman
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The Mets held their annual Kids Holiday Party on Tuesday at Citi Field, and several players – Daniel (Santa) Murphy, Jonathon Niese and Justin Turner – as well as general manager Sandy Alderson – were in attendance.
With backup catcher Ronny Paulino being non-tendered at the midnight deadline on Monday, Alderson was asked if that move signified that Mike Nickeas could assume that role behind Josh Thole for the upcoming season.
And could anything happen before the New Year behind the plate that might change that scenario.
That Triple-A catcher Alderson mentioned is Lucas May whom the Mets just signed. May played for two organizations in 2011 – Arizona and Kansas City – and in 248 combined AB, hit .238 with 10 HR and 44 RBI.
Along with May, the Mets also claimed RHP Jeremy Hefner off waivers from the Pirates. Hefner – who was drafted twice previously by the Mets – went 9-7 with a 4.98 ERA in 28 Triple-A starts this past season. In addition, the club also signed journeyman LHP Garrett Olson. Alderson is definitely looking for rotation depth on the waiver wire or the non-tender list, but there is a hitch.
Right now, the Mets’ starting five are Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana, Dillon Gee and Niese. But there are question marks and Santana’s long-term health at the very least is a concern.
Alderson was asked if there’s any chance he might have an early Christmas present for Met fans. Don’t count on it.
With his second injured knee coming along fine, Murphy was in good spirits. He’s been working out at second base back home in Jacksonville, Florida.
So, does Murphy expect to be the second baseman when the season begins?
Murphy has been a jack-of-all-trades for the Mets – have bat, will travel – and he hasn’t lost his sense of humor either.
He might need that too – with two knee injuries in successive years, is he worried about his mobility around the infield?
And what is his biggest obstacle to overcome at second base? Probably the same one that every 2B faces.
But can Murphy get beyond thinking about his knees while playing the position where both injuries occurred?
Murphy’s name came up in trade discussions that G.M. Alderson had at the Winter Meetings (the Dodgers were interested) as did many of his teammates. However, that doesn’t seem to bother him.
So how about Niese? Did the trade rumors concerning him surprise or adversely affect him?
Niese strained the intercostal muscle on his right side while swinging a bat late in the season and did not pitch after August 23. But Niese has rebounded nicely from that setback.
Turner’s role is less defined for 2012, but he will likely come off the bench to back up at second and the corners. How did he feel about last year’s sometime double-play partner – Jose Reyes – leaving and going to a division rival in Miami?
Turner hit the wall toward the end of the 2011 season. This was a guy who had all of 35 total major league AB in the previous two seasons combined, yet played in 117 games last year with 435 AB. Turner’s taking precautions that he’ll have plenty of gas left in the tank this year.
Let’s hope the Mets aren’t running on empty this coming season, and that the only walls they hit will be the shortened ones at Citi Field.
C U soon
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