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Vegas brings freshness, inconvenience

Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

A Mets split squad will play a pair of games in Las Vegas this weekend.PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Terry Collins has taken a team on a spring-training trip before, when he managed Houston in the mid-1990s, and the Astros played San Diego, also in Vegas. But that trip involved taking his entire Astros team.

This time, Collins is leaving behind half his players in Florida for split-squad games when the Mets face the Chicago Cubs in Las Vegas on Saturday and Sunday. And the manager laments not being able to fully watch position competitions because he will be in a different time zone from some of his players.

Worse, the initial plan had Ike Davis and Lucas Duda simultaneously playing -- one in Vegas, one in Florida. Now, neither is healthy enough to participate.

The Mets will take a four-and-a-half-hour chartered flight to Vegas that departs Friday at 2 p.m. They will fly back after Sunday’s game and plan to land in Florida about 1 a.m. the following day. Some players will be excused from reporting to the Mets’ complex for Monday’s workout because of the early morning arrival.

Collins, being politically correct, acknowledged the trip does break up the monotony of spring training, while also being less than ideal. The Las Vegas 51s are the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.

“We could do it on the other side of the state, for me,” Collins said about having a diversion from strictly facing teams within a two-hour drive of Port St. Lucie. “But I think the world of the people in Vegas.”

Said David Wright: “It’s obviously a long way to go for two games, but they tell me to go, I go.”

The veteran Mets players, who never played in Vegas as minor leaguers, likely will be shocked by the lacking facilities.

“It will get their attention,” Collins said. “It is what it is. The clubhouses are small -- smaller -- which we know. This stadium was built before the onset of strength and conditioning coaches, so the workout room is not very big. …

“It’s Vegas. It’s in the desert, so the ball is going to be flying, especially if the wind is blowing, which it’s going to be blowing. It blows every year in the spring. It could be a wild game.”

On the topic of getting a break from the spring-training monotony, Curtis Granderson proposed swapping facilities with a Cactus League team for a week.

As for the two games in Vegas, Granderson added: “I don’t think it’s a nuisance. I don’t think anybody is sitting here dreading going. I haven’t heard that, or got that sense, from anybody. A lot of guys haven’t been there. A lot of guys haven’t played there, so I think that’s going to be a fun thing for those guys. It’s only two games.

“At the same time, I think longer would probably be a little better -- not necessarily there, but wherever, getting an actual series in or seeing more than one team or something like that.”