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Will the Mets’ rotation be the last five standing?

Aaron Laffey, come on back! You’re the next contestant on “Who Wants To Be A New York Mets Starting Pitcher?

Signed Aaron Laffey baseball card from my collection
Signed Aaron Laffey baseball card from my collection

With luck, Laffey will stay healthy and pitch effectively long enough for Mets fans to learn his name… but I’m not sure I like his odds.

Back in February, the plan was for Johan Santana to start on Opening Day, followed in some order by Matt Harvey, Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee and Shaun Marcum. Jeremy Hefner, Jenrry Mejia and Collin McHugh were supposed to be part of the bullpen picture or providing depth at Triple-A.

The best of plans seldom survive contact with reality, and the Mets are not known for making the best plans.

  • Santana, aside from one ill-advised bullpen session, has not pitched from a mound this spring and there’s no way of knowing when – or if – he will be ready to pitch in a major league game again.
  • Marcum, who got a cortisone shot in his right shoulder last week and was scratched from his scheduled start on Thursday because of a neck issue, now looks like he will start the year on the disabled list.
  • Mejia, shut down two weeks ago with forearm tendinitis, will be idle for another two weeks before he starts to get ready to pitch for the Las Vegas 51s.
  • And today, Hefner left the Mets’ exhibition game against the St. Louis Cardinals after he was struck in the right elbow by a Carlos Beltran one-hop comebacker. On the bright side, x-rays were negative and Hefner is considered day-to-day. (Then again, it sometimes seems like the Mets medical staff have the same attitude about injuries as the Black Knight… “it’s just a flesh wound.”)

So for the first week, now we’re looking at Niese, followed by Harvey, Gee, Hefner, Niese again and Laffey… assuming Hefner’s elbow allows him to pitch and no one else gets hurt.

At least the rotation still doesn’t look quite as bad as the outfield, where the idea of giving Marlon Byrd at-bats doesn’t seem quite as terrible as it did when Terry Collins started talking him up as the starting right fielder at the beginning of camp.

Some good news, though – David Wright played in a minor league game today and went 1-for-5 with a run scored.

“I’ve been optimistic about Opening Day since I came back to St. Lucie and talked with the doctors and the trainers about the diagnosis,” said Wright, who expects to play in another minor-league game Thursday. “It’s kind of the same thing today. It’s another step closer so I’m still very optimistic.”

Keep that optimism going, David. We’re all going to need it.