Finally, Ronny Paulino has arrived in Port St. Lucie; he was held up with visa issues related to his failed PEDs test from last year. He spoke about his delay upon arrival, and manager Terry Collins said he would “push the envelope” to get Paulino ready as quickly as possible. Collins also made it clear that Paulino would be Josh Thole’s backup:
“He’s a very good offensive player, who is going to spell Josh and hopefully be productive at a position where we want to give Josh some time off,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.
This isn’t terribly surprising; that was pretty much the plan from the get-go. But Paulino’s delayed entry into the US obviously squashed any possibility of his hope to unseat Thole from the starting role. After signing with the Mets in December, Paulino had told Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes,
“I’m training to fight for the position,” Paulino said. “No one has a regular job yet.”
I’m interested to see what kind of shape he’s in; one of the reasons Paulino has never quite reached his potential has been because he’s chronically overweight. In fact, the reason he was suspended for 50 games is because the PED he was caught using was a diet pill.
While Paulino entered the Mets MLB camp, eleven others exited: Fernando Martinez, Ruben Tejada, Josh Stinson, Tobi Stoner, Manny Alvarez, John Lujan, Armando Rodriguez, Zach Lutz, Jordany Valdespin, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Kai Gronauer were all assigned to minor-league camp. No shocking news here, as none of these youngsters were expected to compete for a spot on the 25-man roster. Interesting, though, that F-Mart was sent down while Lucas Duda stays with the big club. That move could be interpreted that Duda is ahead of Martinez in terms of how the Mets rank their prospects. I’m not so sure. Rather, I wonder if the Mets see Martinez as having more value to the team long-term, and prefer to make certain he gets everyday reps in AAA to develop his skills rather than play randomly at the MLB level as Carlos Beltran struggles with his health. Of course it doesn’t mean that Duda is going to make the team; rather, it means that the Mets believe Duda is closer to his ceiling than Martinez — and if, in fact, he does make the 25-man roster as a fourth outfielder, playing sparingly off the bench won’t necessarily impede his development.
Same goes with Ruben Tejada and Jordany Valdespin, who for all we know could be the Mets’ starting middle infielders in 2012. Both are talented, but both need more time in the minors to hone their skills. It makes more sense to get them constant reps in minor league camp, and also allows the team to give Brad Emaus, Dan Murphy, and Justin Turner more opportunities to push Luis Castillo off the roster.