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Mets preparing for big player exodus to World Baseball Classic

The Mets’ first official workout of spring training will be next Wednesday, but shortly thereafter will come the inevitable feel of the team’s complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., turning into something of a ghost town. 

With as many as 12 Mets players headed to the World Baseball Classic, which will take place from March 8-21, manager Buck Showalter is bracing for a potentially abbreviated look at the team he plans to deploy on Opening Day. 

“We are excited and proud that they are going, but they can’t come back and be way behind,” Showalter said Tuesday in Manhattan at the 43rd annual Thurman Munson awards dinner, benefitting the AHRC New York City Foundation. 

“You worry when guys start their clock up that quickly, but [the WBC] is good for the game, I am told, and that is the bottom line. It enhances our game globally and I support it, but I am looking at it selfishly from what’s best for the New York Mets.” 

Buck Showalter waits for the team's baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Aug. 19, 2022, in Philadelphia. Showalter was named National League Manager of the Year on Tuesday, Nov. 15, in voting by a Baseball Writers' Association of America panel.

Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Brooks Raley and Adam Ottavino (USA) Francisco Lindor, Edwin Diaz and Michael Perez (Puerto Rico) Eduardo Escobar, Jose Quintana and Omar Narvaez (Venezuela); and minor league pitchers Cameron Opp (Great Britain) and Claudio Scotti (Italy) all will be in the WBC mix. Rosters for the event will be announced Thursday. 

The defections to the WBC could leave an ample amount of playing time in the Grapefruit League for rookies such as Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty and Mark Vientos, all of whom will be trying to show their worthiness for spots on the major league roster to begin the season. 

Francisco Alvarez in action during a game against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Coca-Cola Park on August 2, 2022 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Alvarez is the number one ranked prospect in the New York Mets organization.
Francisco Alvarez up to bat during a game against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Coca-Cola Park.
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Brett Baty of the New York Mets in action against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field on August 28, 2022 in New York City. The Rockies defeated the Mets 1-0.
Brett Baty in action against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field.
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Mark Vientos hits an RBI single scoring Pete Alonso against the Oakland Athletics in the top of the second inning at RingCentral Coliseum on September 23, 2022 in Oakland, California.
Mark Vientos hits an RBI single scoring Pete Alonso against the Oakland Athletics in the top of the second inning at RingCentral Coliseum.
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“I told them to bring both [uniforms], gray and white, they are going to get a lot of playing time,” Showalter said. “We will get a good look at them. The good thing is they will come in and try not to rush the guys that are leaving. The worst thing would be for somebody to leave and go and not play [in the WBC] and I have voiced that to the managers.” 

Showalter will be paying attention to see whether the Mets are sending the most players of any MLB team to the event. 

“It would be interesting to go through all 30 teams and see what the number is for each one,” Showalter said. “Wouldn’t you think that to keep a competitive level for spring training you might have a limit so somebody wouldn’t gain an advantage over somebody else? 

“I know the guys really want to go. There’s nobody forced to go. I know talking to them they are all excited about it.” 

Health will be a paramount concern — part of the reason players such as Max Scherzer and Starling Marte won’t participate in the WBC. Scherzer spent two stints on the injured list last season with oblique strains and Marte underwent offseason core surgery

“For me it’s like when I had the great fortune of managing in the All-Star game [in 1995]. Obviously, you want to win the game and get everybody in the game,” Showalter said. “But my big thing was returning everybody healthy. When I talk to these guys the communication has got to be there.”