The New York Mets have struggled keeping their players healthy the last few seasons. This spring training has been no different, as their ace Johan Santana, incumbent closer Frank Francisco and top-pitching prospect Zack Wheeler have all missed time due to injury. New York’s center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis has now joined them, as he will miss at least a week with a bone bruise.
The Mets focused this offseason on fixing their bullpen, which was one of the worst in the league last season. The team signed veteran relievers LaTroy Hawkins, Pedro Feliciano and Brandon Lyon, hoping to add depth and experience to their bullpen. It is too early to know if signing these relievers will help, but general manager Sandy Alderson made it a focus this offseason, unlike the outfield.
New York missed out on signing former Atlanta Braves center fielder Michael Bourn, as he signed with the Cleveland Indians. Without Bourn, the Mets’ highest paid outfielders are Jason Bay and Bobby Bonilla, neither of which is actually on the team’s roster. The outfield has little major league talent, with or without Nieuwenhuis in the lineup.
Nieuwenhuis had a solid start last season before getting injured. Although he is only out for a week, he might lose his starting spot in the team’s Opening Day lineup in his absence. Nieuwenhuis has struggled even when healthy this spring training with seven strikeouts in eighteen at bats. Meanwhile newly added outfielders Marlon Byrd and Collin Cowgill have been exceeding expectations. If Nieuwenhuis were to miss any more time than expected, he could find himself on the bench come Opening Day.