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Mets starting centerfielder and leadoff-hitter Andres Torres missed a lot of action in spring training due to a left calf strain. Torres got healthy just in time to avoid landing on the disabled list to start the season. But just a few innings into the first game of the season on Thursday, Torres re-aggravated the injury, and was forced to exit the game.
Now, Torres is going to be placed on the 15-day D.L. as a result and will head back south to Florida, where he will begin his rehab process in Port St. Lucie. The injury shouldn’t keep him out much longer than the 15 days as it’s believed the injury is only a low level strain.
But as we’ve seen every now and then, with Derek Jeter being a good example, calf injuries can be hard to gauge, so it is certainly possible that Torres could be sidelined for a month, if not longer. In his absence, Scott Hairston is expected to receive the bulk of playing time, though Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who will be called-up to take the roster spot of Torres prior to Saturday’s game against the Braves, could get a fair share of action. Mike Baxter, who earned a bench role on the Opening Day roster, also figures to be in the mix. Ruben Tejada, who has taken over for Jose Reyes as the starting shortstop, will now assume Reyes’ old lineup spot too, as Tejada projects to assume the lead-off duties while Torres is out.
Nieuwenhuis, 24, can seize his first big league opportunity if he is able to impress once called upon. Nieuwenhuis has battled the injury-bug himself of late, as he missed the second half of spring training after suffering an oblique strain. Had Nieuwenhuis stayed healthy, he might have had a chance at getting a spot on the Opening Day roster. His promising 2011 season at AAA-Buffalo ended in July due to a labrum tear in his left (non-throwing) throwing arm. Prior to that injury, Nieuwenhuis was making a name for himself in the Mets farm system and talk about him becoming the Mets future in centerfield began to surface.