With Andres Torres (calf) joining Scott Hairston (oblique) on the sidelines, Jason Bay volunteered to take over in center field for the Mets.
Torres is still hopeful of being ready for Opening Day, but Hairston is probably DL bound. The Mets’ third-best option in center field, prospect Kirk Nieuwenhuis, is also nursing an oblique strain.
That leaves the Mets with Jason Bay, fellow corner outfielder Mike Baxter, pitcher-turner-right fielder Adam Loewen and second baseman Jordany Valdespin as their center field options at the moment.
And none of those are ideal. Bay, who lost a step or two due to knee woes, last played center with the Pirates in 2005. Baxter played 43 games there in the minors, but two-thirds of those were in A ball in 2006-07. Loewen played 16 games in center in Triple-A last year and made errors on three of his 40 chances (good for a .925 fielding percentage). Valdespin has made one outfield appearance his entire pro career, that coming in the Dominican Summer League in 2007.
For what it’s worth, Baxter got the start in center in Wednesday’s exhibition game. Don’t be surprised if the Mets pick up another outfielder on waivers at some point within the next couple of weeks.
Royals’ Opening Day starter Danny Duffy weathered a minor scare during Saturday’s Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks. The left-hander was removed from his final spring training start after experiencing some left shoulder tightness in the second and third innings. No lasting damage appears to have been done — Duffy told reporters that he simply felt a slight ache, nothing more — and it looks like he’ll remain on track to open the season with the team next Thursday.
The 29-year-old southpaw is coming off one of his best performances to date. Despite losing a few weeks to an oblique strain and elbow soreness, he went 9-10 in 24 starts and finished the 2017 season with a 3.81 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 over 146 1/3 innings. While Duffy entered camp with a clean bill of health, he struggled to execute against his spring training opponents and racked up 13 runs, four homers, seven walks and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings of Cactus League play.
The Royals are scheduled to kick off their home opener against the White Sox on Thursday, March 29 at 4:15 PM ET. Barring any further complications with his shoulder, Duffy will take the mound for the Royals, while James Shields is expected to make his first Opening Day appearance for the White Sox.