The New York Mets dropped their third consecutive game, 3-2, to the St. Louis Cardinals this afternoon. R.A. Dickey threw three solid innings, giving up three hits and allowing one run while fanning four (Albert Pujols twice). Even though it's only spring training, the Mets top candidates to start (Dickey, Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey, Chris Capuano and Chris Young) have all pitched very well early on: 14 innings (counting Capuano's against the University of Michigan) and just three earned runs allowed.
However, two faces have been missing from the position-player side during the early portions of spring training action.
After Carlos Beltran's meeting with Terry Collins a few days ago to announce his move to right field, recent reports suggest that he will make his Grapefruit League debut as a designated hitter this Sunday. Collins believes that Beltran will be able to play right field within seven to 10 days after that -- and as Adam Rubin of ESPN NY notes, that should mean about two weeks to get acclimated to a brand new position.
Regardless, just seeing Beltran on the field is great news for the Mets. In a recent MetsBlog video, Ted Berg noted that during a session of batting practice yesterday, Beltran hit four of the five pitches he saw from the right side out of the park and looked "great" hitting-wise. Obviously, seeing game action is a totally different animal but it's still nice to hear the slugger is putting on a display in practices.
The other member of the team who hasn't even made it to spring training is catcher Ronny Paulino, who is expected to share catching duties with Josh Thole once his eight-game PED suspension expires. He has had trouble getting his visa and the U.S. government wants proof that he is clean before admitting him into the country. Alderson hopes to see him in camp by this weekend but still cannot say for sure that it will happen.
"We still are not sure when he will be here," Alderson said to ESPN NY. "Because of his positive drug test, there's an additional set of procedures he has to go through to get his visa, which include a panel interview as well as a drug test. Those are administered by the United States government in order to issue the visa. It's not something MLB does. It's not anything that we're directly involved in. Those are done by outside consultants. In the case of the drug test, it's sent to the United States for analysis. It has to come back. In the case of the panel interview, there's a report that has to be written. What I'm told is it generally takes 10 days to two weeks in order for that to be returned. All of that was done on the 18th of February. So we're in the range now where he ought to be back.