Jordany Valdespin homered to lead off the ninth against St. Louis right-hander Fernando Salas, but the Mets lost in walk-off fashion to the Cardinals, 2-1, a half-inning later at Roger Dean Stadium. Lefty specialist candidate Garrett Olson allowed a runner inherited at third base from Miguel Batista to score on a single by lefty-hitting Jon Jay for the game-ending run.
Valdespin started at second base Wednesday, but Terry Collins said the middle-infield prospect likely will be assigned to center field for the first time Friday, when the Mets travel to Disney to face the Atlanta Braves. The manager plans to use Matt den Dekker at the position on Thursday against the Houston Astros in Port St. Lucie.
Collins is searching for alternatives in center field should Andres Torres (calf) and Scott Hairston (oblique) be unavailable for Opening Day. Valdespin planned to work with first base/outfield coach Tom Goodwin on Wednesday morning in Port St. Lucie before traveling with the team for the Grapefruit League game, but early rain will delay the crash course until Thursday.
A team spokesman said there was no further update on the severity of Torres' calf strain, which he suffered Tuesday night on a second-inning catch against the Washington Nationals. Collins said Torres was due to see a team doctor who was in Port St. Lucie.
Meanwhile, the Mets mustered only four hits against Cardinals pitching -- two by Vinny Rottino. Jake Westbrook tossed six scoreless innings to outduel Johan Santana.