PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Some Mets players have been down in Florida since before the Super Bowl. Others just showed up. A few won't get here until next week.
But considering all of the club's early arrivals, the Mets certainly had a huge contingent on hand Saturday, when pitchers and catchers officially showed their faces for the first time. The Mets expect a massive crowd of 64 players in this year's camp, including 38 pitchers and catchers.
The latter group needed only to report to the complex by the end of day on Saturday; pitchers and catchers will take their physicals on Sunday before participating in the team's first official workout on Monday.
Then, the Mets will repeat that drill less than a week later -- with position players reporting by Thursday, taking their physicals on Friday and participating in the club's first full-squad workout the following day.
"Some of the acquisitions we made over the wintertime made us better," manager Terry Collins said, referring to the Mets' free-agent trio of Curtis Granderson, Chris Young and Bartolo Colon. "Our middle of the lineup is a completely different-looking scenario than it was a year ago. So that right there, I think, makes us better. I think we've made some good additions that are going to make us a better team."
For many of them, it won't be much different than what's already happening in Port St. Lucie. Third baseman David Wright led a contingent of more than 60 early arrivals to Major and Minor League camps, some of whom flocked to Florida's Atlantic coast as early as January. Those workouts may have been optional, but the sight of Mets players throwing and hitting became commonplace nonetheless in the early days of February.
Once things become official and Mets coaches start regulating the workouts, there will be plenty more to watch. Perhaps this year's most intriguing camp battle will unfold at first base, where Ike Davis -- whom the Mets openly tried to trade all winter -- and Lucas Duda will compete for a job. The loser could start the year in the Minors.
The Mets must also choose a fifth starter, with Jenrry Mejia trying to hold off veterans Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan. Multiple bullpen jobs are up for grabs, as well, and the team must decide whether to start Eric Young, Jr. or Juan Lagares in the outfield alongside newcomers Granderson and Young.
It will all play out over the next six weeks of Spring Training in Florida. The Mets will play a total of 33 games against big league opponents, including two exhibitions versus the Cubs in Las Vegas and a pair against the Blue Jays in Montreal. By the end of it, they will have determined the composition of their 2014 club.
"You want as many good players as you can get," Collins said. "We think we've added some talent to this team. We think 2014 is going to be a good year for us."
It all starts here in sunny Port St. Lucie.
For many, it has started already.