Imagine: players with recognizable names a mere week after Camp Triage produced lineups with names no more familiar than those of the Kenyan luge-team taxi squad. Yes, it's true. At the time the Mets' clubhouse was clearing out on Sunday afternoon, a distinct possibility existed that a semblance of the Mets' starting eight could play on Monday, albeit with a few modifications.
Carlos Beltran may be the designated hitter, and Carlos Delgado could be back at first base when the Sox come to what has been "Port St. Lamely." And that possibility developed after the Mets had engaged the Astros with a starting lineup that included David Wright, Jose Reyes, Brian Schneider, Ryan Church, Endy Chavez, Jose Valentin, Damion Easley, Brady Clark and Olmedo Saenz -- all players with extensive big league resumes.
What's next? Abolition of the disabled list and the return of Keith Miller?
But it could happen. No less a medical authority than Dr. Willie "Play" Randolph indicated as much. He said conversations with the Carlos Brothers gave him the impression each was ready, willing and able to be among those introduced before 1:10 p.m. ET on Monday. Beltran had told the manager that his surgically repaired knees felt so good that he even could play center field. But Randolph found reason for caution and suggested that DH was a better role for a player who hasn't been in competitive circumstances since September.
And Delgado, who has all of six at-bats this spring, told Randolph his impinged right hip felt considerably better. The manager knows Delgado has no use for DHing, so he suggested his first baseman might very well be the first baseman on Monday, even though such alignment would deny Valentin, who made his spring debut on Sunday, a chance to play first for a second straight day.
Even with Moises Alou days away from riding an exercise bicycle and Luis Castillo still walking with an octogenarian gait, the Mets may not have been so whole since the Welcome Home Dinner last April. But as Randolph suggested, there is a method to this mass migration toward active status.
"These guys know the schedule," the manager said cynically. "They know we play in Fort Myers [,Fla., three hours away on] Tuesday."
And they know that if they play on Monday, playing again Tuesday is not likely so no six hours in a bus. For the good of the team, they could stay behind and help Pedro Martinez in his simulated game. Such selflessness.
Motivation is where you find it.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less