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Mets 25-man roster is coming into clearer focus

Marlon Byrd, Scott Atchison, LaTroy Hawkins, and Scott Rice will all head north to Queens, while Omar Quintanilla, Landon Powell, and Robert Carson head to Vegas.

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

A flurry of announcements followed the Mets Grapefruit League win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Contrary to recent reports, Robert Carson will head to Las Vegas and Scott Rice will be the second lefty in the Mets bullpen. After a fourteen-year minor league career, the sidewinding Rice will finally get an opportunity to toe the rubber in the majors. And knowing Terry Collins' penchant for playing the platoon advantage, that opportunity will likely come early and often. Rice was quite solid in 11+ innings of work this spring, though Baseball-Reference pegs his opponent quality at exactly Triple-A level. Rice's career numbers in the Pacific Coast League won't wow you, but he has pitched to a large platoon split, striking out 31.7% of the left-handed batters he faced since 2011 and holding them to a .184/.263/.253 line overall. The Mets will have to add Rice to the 40-man roster, using one of their four currently available spots.

The other three spots will go to Scott Atchison, LaTroy Hawkins, and Marlon Byrd. No real surprise there as all three have been expected to make the team for weeks. In a minor upset though, both Jeurys Familia and Greg Burke will also make the Opening Day bullpen. The Mets will likely DL Shaun Marcum until he makes his first start next weekend, allowing them to carry eight relievers until then. Burke recently converted to sidearm, and will likely be the right-handed complement to Rice. Familia, our #9 Mets prospect, struggled with his control as a starter in Triple-A Buffalo last year, but...well he struggled with his control this spring as well. He has a big arm though, and could probably pitch multiple innings if the Mets need a swingman at some point over the next week.

In perhaps the biggest surprise among this flurry of moves, the Mets have elected to begin the season without a true back-up shortstop. After outrighting Brandon Hicks last weekend, the Mets assigned Omar Quintanilla to Las Vegas, leaving the back-up middle infielders as Jordany Valdespin and Justin Turner (maybe). Turner is still nursing a calf strain, and Terry Collins will have to decide in the next day or so whether to place him on the DL.

So here's what the Mets Opening Day roster looks like circa right now:

OF: Marlon Byrd (R), Collin Cowgill (R), Mike Baxter (L), Lucas Duda (L)

IF: David Wright (R), Ruben Tejada (R), Daniel Murphy (L), Ike Davis (L)

UTIL: Jordany Valdespin (R)

C: John Buck (R), Anthony Recker (R)

SP: Jon Niese (L), Matt Harvey (R), Dillon Gee (R), Jeremy Hefner (R)

RP: Bobby Parnell (R), Brandon Lyon (R), Scott Atchison (R), Josh Edgin (L), LaTroy Hawkins (R), Greg Burke (R), Jeurys Familia (R), Scott Rice (L)

That is 23 of the 25 spots. It appears as of right now that Kirk Nieuwenhuis will make the team whether or not Turner is healthy, even though that would mean carrying six outfielders (depending on how you want to classify Valdespin). If Turner isn't ready for Monday, then Zach Lutz would step in as the back-up first and third baseman. Regardless, it is probably safe to say that all your Opening Day Roster Contest Entries are now busted.