(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
PORT ST. LUCIE, FL – The rosters are set. Or are they?
Going into camp this year, the Mets looked good at every spot in the 25 man. Barring injury, it was supposed to be an easy decision.
However, there is still one hole to fill.
Lucas Duda is obviously the starting first baseman but given his history with some back issues and left handed pitching, the club needs a decent backup for the big slugger.
On paper, Wilmer Flores seems to be the match, but given that he will be used at the other three infield spots as well, there may be a need.
You can put one of the catchers out there, but they also never played the position.
So it is an issue.
That’s why Eric Campbell is still a viable candidate for this team.
“I think my versatility can be helpful, spelling guys throughout the season,” Campbell said. “You know the corner positions.”
Campbell got an unfair rap last season, since he became the unfortunate poster boy of the offensively inept Mets of the first half. He’s obviously not a No. 5 hitter in the lineup, but he has some value. He can hit the ball out of the park and can play the corner positions rather competently.
On this team, it’s that’s important, because no one expects Duda to play 155 games and if David Wright plays over 120 games this season, the Mets would be making a novena in thanks.
Campbell, though, will need to improve at the plate. Last season, he ended up on the Interstate with a .197 average with three homers and 21 RBI in 173 at bats.
So that’s what this spring is all about for the 28 year-old.
“You just got to earn everything you can,” he said. “This is a time where you are going to play a little bit more. There are going to be a lot of eyes on you and they like what they can see there may be a time where the situation comes up and the key is to be that guy.”
With guys like T.J. Rivera, Roger Bernadina, even Ruben Tejada competing for that last slot, Campbell has his work cut out for him, but besides the obvious fit on the team, he also was there last year and a healthy part of the fabric of the club.
And maybe going through the pennant race with the Mets will help him elevate his game.
“I got sent down in mid-August and I started to see it then,” he said. “We started to play solid baseball. We didn’t make mistakes and the lineup got a whole lot deeper. Of course we had the pitching the whole year. So it seemed like throughout the whole year, if we put up more than three runs, we are going to win.”
Now with the same solid lineup, Campbell can fit into a slot that best fits his skills. If he can hit a little, the club won’t have to worry about who is backing up their first baseman.