TC on second base combatants

February, 24, 2011
Terry Collins offered insights Thursday on Daniel Murphy, Brad Emaus and Justin Turner, who along with Luis Castillo are vying for the second-base job.

Murphy and Emaus start opposite each other at second base in Friday's intrasquad game.

Collins said infield coach Chip Hale tells him Murphy has made progress even since the start of camp.

"The other guys we know have played a lot of second base," Collins said. "Every day [Hale] works with Murphy, he comes in and he’ll say, ‘Gosh, he’s getting better around the bag.’ Now it’s the time to see when the game speeds up, when we get out there when they’re actually running the bases, to see how he handles it."

Asked for a defensive assessment of the Rule 5 pick Emaus, who appears the frontrunner, with Murphy on the team in some capacity, Collins said: "I haven’t seen him in a game, either. So it’s unfair."

As for practice, though, the manager added about Emaus: "I’ve watched him turn double plays. He’s got very good hands. I like his feet around the bag. I think he’s got good-enough footwork to play second base. I mean, he’s here because the people who scouted him say he can hit, and he can hit the ball out of the ballpark."

Turner has two minor league options remaining, which means he can be sent to Triple-A Buffalo without being exposed to waivers. That puts him at a pronounced disadvantage.

"I’ve seen him," Collins said, referring to last year overseeing the minors. "I know he can hit. That’s going to be a fun thing to watch, because there are four guys who have very good offensive potential, and it’s going to be about who’s going to take it, who’s going to go out and win it."

Collins continues to exclude Chin-lung Hu, who should beat out Luis Hernandez for the backup middle infield role, from the second-base competition. Ideally, the manager added, the second baseman would be capable enough defensively that Hu would not even need to be a late defensive substitution.

"The one thing that Chin-lung Hu brings to this, if those guys are only there for their bats -- which they’re not going to be -- we do have a defensive guy who can go in there who we know is going to play outstanding defense," Collins said.

Adam Rubin

ESPN Staff Writer
Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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