PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — When Curtis Granderson arrived at the Mets’ complex Monday morning, he was wearing glasses because he was worried about redness around his eye. The Mets worried it might be pinkeye, and considering how contagious that can be, they sent him away and asked him to skip his normal drills for the day.
“He’ll be fine,” Manager Terry Collins said Monday afternoon.
Nevertheless, the situation served as a reminder that the Mets’ outfield depth may be put to good use this season, if an injury were to occur. When the Mets signed Alejandro De Aza to a one-year, $5.75 million deal this off-season, and then surprisingly brought back Yoenis Cespedes, too, they had five outfielders who were expecting to get somewhat regular playing time. It was widely assumed that the Mets would trade De Aza before the season started.
For now, De Aza arrived in camp last week and has been going through the motions as if this is where he will spend the season, despite the persistent questions about his status.
“It’s a game,” De Aza said of the Mets’ decision to bring back Cespedes, “and as an owner you do anything you think is better to win games and get to a championship.”
Last year, De Aza had what he described as a disappointing year. He was traded twice, and he compiled a .261 batting average with 26 extra-base hits in 90 games. Not since 2012 and 2013 has De Aza been an offensive threat. Those years, when he was playing full time, he scored more than 80 runs, stole at least 20 bases and averaged 46 extra-base hits.
As the Mets fill out their bench, they might have to debate whether it would be more valuable to have a player like De Aza, who bats left-handed and plays all three outfield positions, or Eric Campbell, who can play the corner infield and outfield positions.
When the Mets signed Cespedes, it drastically changed De Aza’s role. When De Aza signed, the Mets imagined platooning him with Juan Lagares in center field. Now, both of them are likely to be relegated to backup players at best. The Mets appear inclined to keep De Aza around through the spring at least, as insurance against an injury more serious than pinkeye.
“I’m just out there to play baseball,” De Aza said. “There’s things we can’t control. We’re out there to play a game and try to win and help the team with a game.”