3 New York Mets Players Who Must Step Up the Rest of Spring Training

Stephen SmithContributor IIIMarch 12, 2014

3 New York Mets Players Who Must Step Up the Rest of Spring Training

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    Daisuke Matsuzaka is battling for the fifth spot in New York's rotation
    Daisuke Matsuzaka is battling for the fifth spot in New York's rotationJeff Roberson/Associated Press

    As the New York Mets near the midway point of spring training, it's crunch time for certain players vying for a spot on the team's Opening Day roster.

    This is their time to impress.

    This is their time to shine.

    Before it's too late.

    Let's take a look at three Mets players who must step up their performance during the rest of spring training if they are to stand any chance of being on the 25-man roster when New York faces Washington in the season opener on Mar. 31.

    All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and NewYorkMets.com 

SP Daisuke Matsuzaka

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    David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

    This may be the last chance for Daisuke Matsuzaka.

    The veteran Japanese right-hander is battling for the fifth spot in New York's starting rotation. Through two spring training outings, the 33-year-old is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA. Matsuzaka has not walked a batter in his four innings of work, but his batting average against is .381.

    Not good.

    The seven-year MLB hurler reacted following his latest effort against the Cardinals, in which he allowed six hits and one earned run in two innings last Friday.

    "Overall, my pitches were not that bad, but I couldn’t finish them off,” Matsuzaka told The Japan News.

    He has to start finishing those pitches off soon. If he doesn't, he may be on the outside looking in.

    Matsuzaka may not have many chances left to prove he can still be a viable starting pitcher in the major leagues.

    That 18-3 record with the Boston Red Sox in 2008 is a long time ago now.

RP Josh Edgin

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    The stocky southpaw was sent down to minor league camp on Monday. Therefore, if he is to make his way back into management's good graces, he is going to have to really excel.

    Edgin was battling to become the second left-handed reliever in manager Terry Collins' bullpen with Scott Rice.

    He's hit a road block now, though.

    The 27-year-old Edgin really struggled in the Grapefruit League. In three innings of work, he was lit up like a Christmas tree, allowing eight hits with a 12.00 ERA and 3.67 WHIP. Hitters batted .500 against him.

    Edgin is struggling to recover from a stress fracture in his rib cage that he suffered last July. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list and eventually missed the rest of the 2013 campaign.

    After being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas last June, Edgin was effective, posting a 1-1 record with a 3.77 ERA in 34 appearances.

    He was also impressive when he first burst on the scene with the Mets in 2012, posting a 0.00 ERA in 10.1 innings of work, including 13 strikeouts.

    Now he'll have to earn the right to pitch again at Citi Field.

    He still has the talent to do it—if his body will let him. 

INF Wilmer Flores

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    The 22-year-old infielder is battling for an infield spot along with Anthony Seratelli and Omar Quintanilla in spring training.

    With Ruben Tejada struggling both offensively and defensively, Flores started yesterday's Grapefruit League contest against St. Louis at shortstop. It marked the first time the Valencia, Venezuela native started there since 2011 when Flores was playing for Class A St. Lucie.

    Flores has gotten off to a rocky start with the Mets in camp, hitting just .105 with two RBI entering yesterday's action. If he can play a steady shortstop and show decent range in the field, he can improve his stock in the eyes of manager Terry Collins.

    “It’s always fun being out there,” Flores told Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. “I know they want to see me at shortstop. I’m just going to try to play like I’ve been playing and show that I can play.”

    However, in order to secure an Opening Day roster slot, Flores needs to start hitting with more authority. In 95 at-bats with New York in 2013, Flores struggled at the plate, hitting a feeble .211 with one HR and 13 RBI.

    He's still very young. However, if his bat does not come around soon, he'll be opening the 2014 season at Triple-A Las Vegas instead of Citi Field in Queens.