Kelly returns from Classic with eye on roster spot

Salas facing visa issue; Syndergaard to start Minors game on Saturday

Kelly returns from Classic with eye on roster spot

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Ty Kelly's whirlwind tour of the Far East concluded earlier this week, when Team Israel lost in the second round of the World Baseball Classic. Not overly jetlagged thanks to a cushy business class seat on his flight home from Japan, Kelly arrived back at Mets camp Friday with an eye toward making the club's Opening Day roster.

The tournament was a career highlight for Kelly, who experienced a taste of both Korean and Japanese culture, even visiting the Demilitarized Zone along the North and South Korean border. It was also a success for Team Israel. Beginning in Seoul, South Korea, the team surprised many around the game by advancing to the Classic's second round in Japan, where Israel bowed out to the heavily favored host country and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

"We were a bunch of regular guys, basically, playing against those countries," said Kelly, who was eligible to play for Team Israel based on his half-Jewish heritage. "That's kind of what it felt like. But we're all professional baseball players, and we're good at baseball. We're not the Jamaican bobsled team, like one article said. We all expected to do well."

The tournament also gave Kelly a taste of competitive baseball at a time of year when Grapefruit League games maintain a more casual atmosphere. Batting .208 in six Classic games, Kelly served as Israel's regular No. 2 hitter.

Back in Port St. Lucie, he faces an uphill climb to claim a roster spot, particularly because the Mets removed him from their 40-man roster earlier this year. But Kelly still has a chance to beat out infielder T.J. Rivera for the club's last bench spot, or to make the club as a fifth outfielder if Brandon Nimmo's hamstring injury lingers.

"I felt like that experience got me ready to go," Kelly said. "It's high-leverage situations all the time. Every at-bat and every ground ball you get matters. It's hard to simulate that in Spring Training."

Freiman's RBI double

The World Baseball Classic runs through Wednesday. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games in San Diego's Petco Park and the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

Visa issue
Reliever Fernando Salas is still working to iron out a visa issue in his native Mexico. Mets manager Terry Collins said he does not know when Salas, who competed for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, will be cleared to return.

"He hasn't pitched that much," Collins said. "I've got a lot of concerns, but there's not much I can do about it until he gets to camp. We've got two weeks to go to try to get him as ready as possible."

On the back fields
Rather than appear in the Mets' Grapefruit League game Saturday against the Cardinals, Noah Syndergaard will remain Port St. Lucie to start a Minor League game.

Mets option one
The Mets optioned catcher Tomas Nido to the Minor Leagues on Friday, reducing the number of players in Major League camp to 47.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.