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Nats 5, Mets 1: Prospect Tapia loses control

VIERA, Fla. -- Prospect Domingo Tapia surrendered homers to Adam LaRoche and Danny Espinosa and lasted only two innings and the Washington Nationals beat the Mets, 5-1, Thursday at Space Coast Stadium.

Tapia, who likely is ticketed for Class A St. Lucie to open the season, surrendered four runs on four hits, two walks and two wild pitches.

The Mets were charged with three errors -- one to Jordany Valdespin, who was unable to cleanly pick up a ball in left field.

"He's been playing mostly second base and we stick him back in the outfield," Collins said. "There are some circumstances that you put these guys in that they're not always necessarily that comfortable with.

"When we get the lineup out there, hopefully on Saturday, we'll see what they look like. If they're that sloppy Saturday, I'll have some concerns."

Terry Collins said he wanted to now get Valdespin more outfield exposure with Daniel Murphy expected to be ready for Opening Day. But Collins said finding the time is a struggle because getting Kirk Nieuwenhuis at-bats is a priority. That suggests Nieuwenhuis, in fact, has a more than decent chance to break camp with the Mets. He went 1-for-3 with a walk to lift his Grapefruit League average to .094.

"We've got to decide who's going to play center," Collins said. "Therefore we've got to get Kirk some at-bats. He's only got 33 or 34 at-bats so far. And he needs some more."

As for Tapia, Collins said: "He's got a great arm -- a great arm. He showed you in the first inning he's got an assortment of things. When he throws it over the plate, he can get anybody out. He's one of those guys that hopefully can come fast."