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Mets want to check out Valdespin in infield

After playing outfield in winter ball, second baseman hopes to make opening roster

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Though Jordany Valdespin may finally be growing comfortable as an outfielder, the Mets believe his immediate future lies on the infield dirt.

"He played a lot of outfield in winter ball. This spring, we need to put him back in the infield a little bit," manager Terry Collins said Saturday after Valdespin reported to camp. "We know if need be, we can play him in the outfield. We need to take a look at him in the infield right now."

Though second base is Valdespin's natural position, that may hurt his already-slim chances of making the Opening Day roster. Coming into camp, all four of the Mets' starting infielders are entrenched in their roles, with Justin Turner an overwhelming favorite to secure one bench spot. That leaves one slot open for Brandon Hicks or Brian Bixler -- and Hicks is out of Minor League options, making him the early favorite for the assignment.

Valdespin, who played mostly outfield for his Dominican winter ball team, understands his situation.

"I won't keep my head down if I don't stay on the team Opening Day," he said. "The only thing I can do is play hard and then go up. But my plan is to stay on the team on the Opening Day for all year."

Ideally, the Mets would like to see Valdespin mature both on and off the field before handing him another big league job. On the diamond, Valdespin showed a propensity for chasing pitches during his rookie season, striking out in 19 of his final 68 plate appearances. Off the field, he displayed continued immaturity this winter when he posted a Twitter picture of himself wearing a Marlins cap -- a photo that he claims his cousin posted without his consent.

Regardless of intent, the Mets hope that Valdespin grows both as a person and a player this spring.

"My game is to stay on the bases, steal bases, help my team how I can do it," Valdespin said. "That's my plan for this year. I'm prepared 100 percent in my mind, and physically too, and we'll see what happens in Spring Training."

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