The Mets on Friday made several roster decisions in advance of Monday’s Opening Day, and some of the moves are surprising.
The most surprising is that Scott Rice will be the second lefty in the bullpen, beating out Robert Carson. It was widely assumed that Carson would get the nod, but he pitched to a 4.97 ERA this spring as opposed to 2.92 for Rice. At 31 years old and after knocking around the minors for 14 seasons, Rice will finally make his major league debut.
Also in the bullpen will be Scott Atchison, Greg Burke and Jeurys Familia. The Mets will go with eight relievers to start the season, with one of them being demoted when Shaun Marcum is ready to come off the disabled list, probably around a week into the season.
Omar Quintanilla did not make the team as the backup shortstop, also something of a surprise because it means the Mets do not have a natural shortstop on the bench.
ESPNNewYork.com reports that if Justin Turner starts the season on the DL, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Zach Lutz will make the team. If Turner is healthy, one of them will head to Las Vegas. Lutz hit.313 this spring while Nieuwenhuis batted .088, but the Mets are so concerned about their outfield defense, and rightly so, that they might go with Nieuwenhuis despite his offensive struggles.
Whomever the Mets choose, and this goes for the entire roster, not just for the bench, it boils down to what Keith Hernandez might call, “Six of one, seven of the other” or however he mangles that old saying. They are selecting between the likes of Kirk Nieuwenhiuis and Zach Lutz — not exactly a “Sophie’s Choice” between two guys like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper.