The best-case scenario for the Mets at third base on Opening Day is clearly that David Wright is healthy and ready to go. He insists he will be, and while it is by no means impossible, the Mets obviously have a contingency plan in place. Well, sort of.
Justin Turner, who rolled his ankle in a spring training game over the weekend but sounds like he'll be back in short order, has been the presumptive fill-in for Wright in the event that he's not ready to go. Mets manager Terry Collins turned to him first in the spring training lineup after Wright was diagnosed with an intercostal strain on Friday. It seems he would do the same when the regular season begins, assuming he has to make that decision at all.
For an organization that's so heavily reliant upon finding out what will become of its young players, though, it would make a lot more sense for Zach Lutz to get starts at third base in Wright's place.
A corner infielder by trade, Lutz has been a very good hitter in the minor leagues, yet he has just eleven big league plate appearances to his name. He's certainly no Travis d'Arnaud or Zack Wheeler in terms of prospect status, but he's been a better hitter in the minors than Turner was at very similar ages and levels. Here's what each player has done in the minors to this point:
With those track records in mind, the Mets should find out whether or not Lutz's bat — which features power, something the team generally lacks — is capable of handling big league pitching. Turner has established himself as a .678 OPS hitter over 712 plate appearances in the big leagues. There's a very good chance that Lutz could prove himself a better hitter than that on a team that could also use a right-handed bat, both for its bench and for the occasional day off for first baseman Ike Davis.