COMMENTARY | After David Wright injured his rib cage during the World Baseball Classic last week, the New York Mets hoped Justin Turner could fill in, especially since the star third baseman is presumed to miss the start of the season.
But when it rains in Mets-land, it pours.
On Saturday, March 16, in a spring game against the Miami Marlins, Turner rolled his ankle while fielding a ground ball, and has since been inactive. While, as of yesterday, it seemed the infielder would make the trip to Kissimmee on March 20 to face off against the Houston Astros, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, he will not.
Turner, who hit .269 with 2 HRs and 19 RBIs last season, was only expected to supplant Wright for a short period of time, but his own injury now puts the Mets in a bit of quandary. If the infielder is out for an extended period of time, whom will the Mets use at third base in their April 1 opener against the San Diego Padres?
Fans' knee-jerk reactions might be to promote prospect Wilmer Flores, who has primarily been a third baseman in the minor leagues, and hope he is not too over-matched in the majors. The problem with Flores is that the 21-year-old has yet to play above Double-A, and he looked pretty green in spring training (.143 BA in 21 PAs). Flores needs a lot more seasoning in the minors, and using him as a band-aid -- even if just for a few weeks -- could hurt his development.
Another more logical option could be utilityman Omar Quintanilla. The former Texas Longhorn is known for his glove, but he has primarily played the middle infield during his major-league career. In fact, Quintanilla has only logged 29 innings at third base in seven major-league seasons.
Assuming the Mets would prefer to use a true third baseman, the most likely candidate is Zach Lutz. Even though the 26-year-old was forgettable during his two short stints with the Mets in 2012 (.091 BA in 11 PAs), unlike Quintanilla, Lutz is a natural third baseman. The corner infielder has also enjoyed a respectable offensive career in the minors, posting a combined .288/.386/.488 line in six seasons.
While it's not ideal to use a third-stringer at such an early stage of the baseball season, the New York Mets seemingly have little choice but to hand the reigns -- at least in the interim -- to Zach Lutz.Ben Berkon is a freelance sports, humor, and tech writer/blogger from New York City. Berkon's work has been featured on The Huffington Post, The Onion, Contently, Medium, and Rising Apple, and he also manages The Beanball and Blah Blah Berkon, his personal stat-heavy baseball and humor blogs, respectively. He's [unfortunately] been a Mets follower his entire life.
Follow him at @BenBerkon.
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