Wilmer demoted, will continue at shortstop

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Wilmer Flores shortstop experiment will continue. Only it will continue at Triple-A Las Vegas.

Flores joined Matt den Dekker, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Zach Lutz in being sent to minor-league camp Monday morning. That leaves the Mets with 33 in camp, including rehabbing Matt Harvey and Jeremy Hefner and DL-bound Jonathon Niese.

"I feel good," Flores said after receiving the news. "I did a great job. I'll just wait for the opportunity to come again."

Flores, 22, made four exhibition starts at shortstop, and largely handled the routine plays. There is widespread skepticism he can reemerge as a shortstop, a position at which the Mets abandoned using him after the 2011 season.

Still, as a hedge against Ruben Tejada struggling at the major-league level, the Mets will use Flores at shortstop and second base with Las Vegas, to continue to gauge his worthiness. If Tejada flops in April and Flores is passable at shortstop, the Mets will consider promoting Flores for the starting role.

Adam Rubin

Wilmer Flores was demoted to minor-league camp Monday morning.

Of course, this is barring a trade that brings in Seattle's Nick Franklin or Arizona's Didi Gregorius or another shortstop, which would push Tejada to the backup role.

Remaining in camp to back up Tejada are Omar Quintanilla and Anthony Seratelli. Quintanilla is projected to make the Opening Day roster.

Flores batted .238 with two homers and nine RBIs in 42 Grapefruit League at-bats.

"I think I did a pretty good job, a pretty decent job at short," Flores said. "I feel great. I'll go to Vegas and play some more short. I don't know how much, but I know I'm going to play short."

On his hitting, Flores said he was largely pleased, although "maybe there were some at-bats that I didn't choose the right pitches."

He arrived in camp after spending two four-week stints at a Plymouth, Mich., nutrition and fitness camp, which did result in a trimmer body.

If you subtract Harvey, Hefner and Niese, there are five extra players remaining in camp. Those are the Daisuke Matsuzaka-Jenrry Mejia non-winner (likely Mejia going to Triple-A), the Quintanilla-Seratelli non-winner (likely Seratelli going to Triple-A), extra catcher Taylor Teagarden, extra reliever Gonzalez Germen and corner infielder Eric Campbell. Campbell has impressed in camp and is being rewarded, but the extra bench spot created by Niese's DL stint should go to Andrew Brown.

Campbell is not on the 40-man roster. The Mets already likely need to create spots for Matsuzaka, Jose Valverde, John Lannan and Quintanilla.

The Mets' 40-man roster is currently at 38, and will drop to 37 when Harvey is shifted to the 60-day DL. So the Mets likely will need to free one spot, with scouts speculating reliever Ryan Reid may be the casualty.