PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Zack Wheeler will receive his first taste of big league competition on Saturday, when he takes the mound for the Mets in their first Grapefruit League game of 2013 against the Nationals.
Wheeler will pitch in relief of Shaun Marcum, who will start the 12:10 p.m. game opposite Stephen Strasburg at Tradition Field. The Mets plan to use something close to their projected Opening Day lineup, with Kirk Nieuwenhuis leading off and playing center field, Lucas Duda in left field and Marlon Byrd in right. The only missing piece will be second baseman Daniel Murphy, who remains sidelined with a strained right intercostal muscle.
Darin Gorski, Cory Mazzoni and Jeurys Familia are also scheduled to pitch for the Mets.
Mejia finally arrives at Mets' camp
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Jenrry Mejia, age 23, arrived at the Mets' complex on Friday. There was no doubt about that, considering the investigation into Mejia's age and identity that delayed his arrival by nearly two weeks.
"That's my name," Mejia said, laughing.
Once the inquiry revealed nothing amiss, Mejia received his visa in the Dominican Republic and arrived at Mets camp Friday, where he admitted to being "a little" frustrated at the process. The only thing that eased his concern, he said, were his daily workouts at the Mets' Dominican complex.
"The consulate, they had to make an investigation," Mejia said. "I don't know why they made it. I had to wait."
Now that Mejia is in camp, he will continue training as a starting pitcher. He currently sits sixth or seventh on the depth chart, and is a strong bet to begin the season at Triple-A Las Vegas. Though Mejia could still ultimately wind up as a reliever, the Mets want to give him every opportunity to succeed as a starting pitcher this season.
Flores homers in Mets' first intrasquad game
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Only a few dozen fans filtered into Tradition Field for the Mets' intrasquad game Friday, but Wilmer Flores managed to make a big impression on most of them.
Flores hit a three-run homer off LaTroy Hawkins in the third inning of a five-inning game, leading his squad to a 6-2 victory.
"I saw him three years ago, and you saw it then when he was a tall, skinny kid and was growing into his body -- the bat potential was huge," manager Terry Collins said. "You saw big power back then, even though he was a skinny guy. When his bat's ready, he'll play in the big leagues. I don't know what position yet, but he'll play in the big leagues."
In the intrasquad game Flores played second base, and that is where he figures to see regular work this year at Double-A Binghamton. Flores will also spend plenty of time at third base -- but with David Wright under contract through 2020, his quickest path to the Majors is at second.
If he performs as well this summer as he did last year, hitting .300 with 18 home runs over two levels of the Minors, Flores could crack Triple-A Las Vegas sometime in the middle of the year. That would put him on track to reach the Majors as soon as 2014.
"Everybody in the Minor League just raves about him offensively," Collins said.
Feliciano, Hoffman sent to New York for more exams
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Reliever Pedro Feliciano and outfielder Jamie Hoffman have been shut down indefinitely due to issues with their bloodwork, as revealed by their pre-Spring Training physicals.
General manager Sandy Alderson would not elaborate on either player's condition due to privacy issues, but said both flew to New York for follow-up exams. The Mets sent Ike Davis home last spring for a similar follow-up, which revealed that he may have had Valley Fever.
Both Feliciano and Hoffman are fighting for jobs this spring, with the former looking to make the team as a second left-handed reliever and the latter hoping to earn an outfield bench job.