The New York Mets will kick off the 2012 season on April 5 at Citi Field against the Atlanta Braves. With less than a week remaining before GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins have to decide who will make the trip north, there are still plenty of questions up and down the Mets roster.
Injuries will make things interesting right down to the final hours, but here is a look at how the Opening Day roster should end up and a players that could sneak into the conversation.
Little wiggle room here. The recently re-signed Chris Young could eventually push someone out or turn this into a six-man rotation in order to give Santana extra rest. Like most of the team, there is little depth in the organization other than top prospects the team doesn't want to rush. If there are any injuries here, things could get ugly quickly.
There might be a revolving door of players closing, but most of the spots here are locked in. Daniel Herrera is knocking on the door because of Byrdak coming back from knee surgery. Byrdak is throwing again and thinks he can make it back for Opening Day. If he cannot go, Herrera will get the call. DJ Carrasco (ankle) is another name to watch the fire week of the season, as is young lefty Josh Edgin though he'll have to likely continue to prove himself in the minors.
The Mets would love for Thole to prove he is worthy of being a starter at this level, but have little recourse if he doesn't. Nickeas isn't going to push him and there's no one hot on the trail in the minors. This is Thole's job for better or worse this season.
The starters are locked in until Murphy's inevitable injury while trying to turn a double play. Once that happens Turner will take over, but 24-year old Jordany Valdespin has to be an option (as well as in the outfield) if he hits well at Triple-A.
Both Torres and Hairson are nursing injuries, leaving plenty of question marks. Even if Hairston doesn't have a setback, is he really who the Mets pitchers want patrolling center field? Torres will be a huge upgrade from the space cadet that was Angel Pagan but he needs to recover from a strained calf. Pitcher-turned-utility player Adam Loewen is ticketed for the minors, however that changes if Torres needs to start the season on the disabled list.