Wilmer Flores is due to start at shortstop Tuesday against the Cardinals.PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Wilmer Flores is set to start his first game at shortstop since the 2011 season, back when he played for Class A St. Lucie.
Terry Collins plans to give Flores the start at shortstop Tuesday against the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla.
The Mets did not use Flores at shortstop at all the past two seasons, having decided his first-step quickness and range were insufficient. But they are willing to take another look given Ruben Tejada’s struggles as well as the need to identify a bat for the bench who can at least play a passable shortstop.
Still, Collins has acknowledged, the likelihood is Flores opens the season at Triple-A Las Vegas.
Anthony Seratelli and Omar Quintanilla otherwise apparently are vying for that backup middle-field role -- unless the Mets acquire a No. 1 shortstop that pushes Tejada to the backup role, which remains possible.
“It’s always fun being out there,” Flores said. “I know they want to see me at shortstop. I’m just going to try to play like I’ve been playing and show that I can play.”
Flores, 22, already has played shortstop in the late innings of two Grapefruit League games, although his chances there so far all have been routine.
“Those plays that I need to move, we’ll see,” said Flores, who went to an agility and nutrition camp for eight weeks this winter in Plymouth, Mich. “I’ve played before. I’ve played a lot of shortstop. It’s nothing new for me.”
Collins’ affirmation that Flores will start at shortstop came on a day Tejada committed his second Grapefruit League error. After three misplays Friday, including one charged as an error, this time Tejada lost the handle on the baseball while exchanging it from his glove to his right hand for a throw to first base.
Asked if he was getting concerned with Tejada’s fielding given it is only three weeks until Opening Day, Collins said: “Three weeks is plenty of time to get the sharpness there, in my opinion.”
Still, Tejada’s workload is about to increase.
After getting Tuesday off, Tejada will play deep into games on consecutive days to try to increase his sharpness.
“I think that’s the only way he’s going to get it,” Collins said. “Instead of coming out after five [innings], he’s got to stay out there.”