PORT ST. LUCIE – The biggest questions in Mets camp will soon surround the players not in Mets camp.
Nine players on the 40-man roster — including the entire starting infield — are eligible for the World Baseball Classic, which begins Wednesday.
Every team will have concerns about their players thrown into intense international competition after a few weeks on the rise, but few teams are better represented than the Mets.
On Saturday, Mets manager Buck Showalter spoke with US manager Mark DeRosa and sent a message: “Make sure everyone gets back healthy.”
Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Adam Ottavino and Brooks Raley have left Mets camp to play in the United States.
Edwin Diaz and Francisco Lindor (Puerto Rico), and Eduardo Escobar and Omar Narvaez (Venezuela) will also represent their countries.
Francisco Lindor has left Mets camp to play for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.Corey Sipkin for the NY Post
Elieser Hernandez is part of the Venezuelan designated pitcher pool.
Many who are not on the list of 40 people will also play in the tournament.
With other clubs making major league camp cuts, the Mets may be looking for additional bodies.
There are some health-related deals in place – Diaz won’t pitch back-to-back days – but players accustomed to building up their strength slowly through camp can go all out for the glory of their homeland.
Here are more questions that came to the Mets after Monday’s first game of the Grapefruit League season, two weeks after the team’s first full practice:
Can this rotation hold?
A few weeks after the camp, a 34-year-old and a 27-year-old have had health problems.
The Mets’ other top rotation prospects — ages 40, 38, 35, 30 and 27 — are still standing.
The rotation of that old man was always going to be a concern.
Jose Quintana suffered a minor stress fracture in his left fifth rib, the Mets said Monday, a day after reporting side tightness.
The band has not yet released a timetable for their comeback.
David Peterson, the depth piece, had his left foot sprain removed on Saturday and appears to have avoided the worst, suffering a contusion and being listed as day-to-day.
Justin Verlander is entering his age 40 season with the Mets.Corey Sipkin for the NY Post
Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Carlos Carrasco enter the season with a combined 45 years of major league experience.
Kodai Senga, who made his exhibition season debut on Sunday, is technically a rookie but has plenty of innings under his belt.
The Mets will need to test their rotation depth, and likely early.
Rounding out the rotation are Peterson and Tylor Megill.
The next batch includes Hernandez and Joey Lucchesi, who is building in his first season back from Tommy John surgery.
Can a child break the list?
Probably not, but they are pleading their cases.
Brett Baty has the most realistic shot, his bat threatening Escobar’s reign at third base.
But the 23-year-old has also shown a shaky glove, and Showalter has repeatedly indicated the Mets will value his defense a lot.
Mets prospect Brett Baty has impressed with his bat, but has struggled defensively.Corey Sipkin for the NY Post
Baty, who has gone 8-for-17 in the Pomelo League opener, will likely also have to crush Triple-A pitching for a call-up.
Ronny Mauricio and Mark Vientos are having similar springs and present other defensive concerns.
Mauricio, a shortstop, will have to learn another position (maybe second or third base and maybe an outfield position) in the minors.
Vientos, a corner infielder, must prove his glove is not a liability.
Vientos arrived in the majors late last season as the designated hitter’s right-hander, and that spot could open up again.
Darin Ruf, who struggled with the Mets last season, has yet to make his debut due to a wrist problem.
Who will win the last places?
Diaz, Ottavino, Raley, David Robertson and Drew Smith have their jobs locked down.
Stephen Nogosek (who is out of options) and Zach Greene (a Rule 5 pick who would have returned to the Yankees if he didn’t make the team) are the frontrunners for the Opening Day bullpen, as they would likely be lost otherwise. .
That leaves one spot open for a team that includes Jeff Brigham, Sam Coonrod, John Curtiss, Bryce Montes de Oca and Stephen Ridings.
All have shown good things, and all can be options in the minors.
It’s also possible that the Mets will take Hernandez or Lucchesi as a long man.
Looking for Nimmo (& Mars)
Two of the Mets’ three outfielders have yet to make their debut in the exhibition season, though concern seems low for both.
Brandon Nimmo is taking it slow in what could be a long spring training.
Starling Marte is expected to get his first taste of the Grapefruit League this week after undergoing offseason surgery on two groins.