Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mets Give Flores Shot at Shortstop

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mets Give Flores Shot at Shortstop

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- The audition began Friday night.

Wilmer Flores knows this. He understands that he was called up before the Mets' game against the Philadelphia Phillies to add offense to their anemic lineup.

And Flores knows he was promoted to try to rip away the starting shortstop job from light-hitting Ruben Tejada.

But first, the 22-year-old infielder needs to show he can be an everyday major league shortstop after making seven errors in 25 games for Class AAA Las Vegas.

Flores has something to prove. And he vowed he would.

"I'm going to prove it," he said of being a big league shortstop.

The Mets are gambling that Flores' offense will outweigh his defensive deficiencies. Although manager Terry Collins was coy about his specific plan for the position, he made it clear that the call- up would get playing time over Tejada in the near term.

"He's going to play," he said.

And Flores did Friday night, starting at shortstop and hitting seventh. The Mets designated Omar Quintanilla for assignment to make room.

That means the Mets are trading hits for defense at shortstop and at the bottom of the lineup. And that means Tejada -- once the Mets' shortstop of the future -- again finds himself at a career crossroads.

For Flores, this is a test.

"I mean, I know I can handle it," he said. "I'm just going to show that I can."

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Flores signed with the Mets as a 16-year- old shortstop out of Venezuela. But he was transitioned to third and second base when he outgrew the prototypical shortstop frame. He also has not consistently shown the quickness needed to cover so much ground on the left side of the infield.

But his promising bat -- he was hitting .307 with five homers, five doubles and 25 RBI for Las Vegas -- made him worth the risk with Tejada embroiled in an 0-for-15 slump and hitting only .183.

Mets shortstops entered Friday with a . …

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