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Hope Springs Eternal As Pitchers And Catchers Report To Mets Camp

Matt Harvey (credit: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images) and Zack Wheeler (credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Matt Harvey (credit: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images) and Zack Wheeler (credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — NFL players are getting their pink slips and baseball’s beat writers have come to life.

Yep, it’s that time already. Spring training. Pitchers and catchers.

Hurlers young and old officially report to the Mets on Monday, with physicals set for Tuesday and workouts Wednesday. Among the storylines to consider: How high is the ceiling for Matt Harvey, who was so impressive as a rookie in 2012? Will Johan Santana’s shoulder hold up? Just how good is prospect Zack Wheeler?

Though the Mets’ starting staff — Santana, Harvey, Jonathon Niese, Shaun Marcum and Dillon Gee — appears set, there will be some real competition in Port St. Lucie.

“We’ve got to make sure (Jeremy) Hefner is ready and (Jenrry) Mejia,” manager Terry Collins told the New York Post. “We’re going to give Zack Wheeler the ball. We’ve got to make sure we’ve got seven or eight guys ready to go. There is some competition out there to see who is going to be the first guy called up if that’s needed.”

Wheeler, the team’s top pitching prospect, is eager to contribute — and has no shortage of confidence. There are tons of Mets fans who hope to see the 22-year-old right-hander make his debut at Citi Field this season.

“First official day of Spring Training,” Wheeler tweeted Monday. “Here we go #mission2013.”

The real competition will be in the bullpen, where Brandon Lyon was brought in to bolster a revamped staff. Closer Frank Francisco, coming off a sub-par year, certainly has something to prove.

Then there are relievers Scott Atchison, Pedro Feliciano and LaTroy Hawkins, all competing for a roster spot on minor league deals.

“We have so many faces it’s going to be about trying to get them innings,” Collins told the Post. “We’ve got (27) pitchers in camp and a lot of guys are fighting for jobs, so we’ve got to make sure we have comparable innings for every one of those guys. We’ll have to come up with a plan and make sure everybody is getting enough work.”

At catcher the Mets will likely open with veteran John Buck, acquired in the R.A. Dickey trade with Toronto. But he’ll just be keeping the position warm for another backstop plucked from the Blue Jays: stud prospect Travis d’Arnaud.

The future looks bright for the Amazin’s, who had three youngsters — d’Arnaud, Wheeler and pitcher Noah Syndergaard — crack the top 30 of MLB.com’s list of prospects.

But what about 2013? There’s hope surrounding every 0-0 team in February and March.

For the Mets, it may be more than just talk.

“We’re getting to the point where we can be in the mix,” said general manager Sandy Alderson, according to the team’s official website. “If you look at the fundamental composition of our team, it wouldn’t take more than a couple of moves to change the whole perception of things. So I don’t want anybody to believe that this is a long-term project that has no possible realization anytime soon. We’re at the point where we can make significant improvement in a hurry.”

What’s your prediction for the Mets in 2013? Sound off in the comments!