MLB

New York Mets newcomer Starling Marte slowed in camp by oblique injury

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — With speedy Starling Marte slowed by an oblique injury, the New York Mets are in no hurry to rush the newcomer.

The 33-year-old outfielder with two Gold Gloves led the majors with a combined 47 stolen bases last year with Miami and Oakland and then signed as a free agent with the Mets before the lockout.

But Marte has been affected by a left oblique ailment that has prevented him from hitting at all during the team’s first week of spring training camp. The team is taking a careful, cautious approach with him.

« We haven’t had anything negative [on Marte], » Mets manager Buck Showalter said. « With an oblique, if you come back too quick from that, it turns into a long-term thing. He came with it. He didn’t get it here. »

Marte’s skills make him fit for the leadoff spot in Showalter’s batting order. Lefty-hitting Brandon Nimmo, who beat first in Sunday’s spring training game against St. Louis, is the other option at the top of the order.

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Both are also competing for the starting spot in center field, with newcomer Mark Canha — a right-handed batter like Marte — also in the mix.

« Nimmo is a good outfielder. I’m the same thing, Canha the same thing. Anywhere we need, » Marte said.

Showalter said he feels good news is on the way with Marte as the club prepares for opening day on April 7 in Washington.

« Just his progression, » Showalter said. « Obviously, I know more than I’m going to say here, but I don’t want to put him in a position where we get to 26 hours from now we think he’ll do that and he isn’t able to do it. »

« He’s in great hands, and he’s not taking any steps back. He’s able to handle everything we’re progressing with, » he said. « We’re hoping in the next few days to have something to tell you about him offensively. »

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