Dynamic Duo

Any coverage of Met's spring training camp has to focus on the dynamic duo the Mets have put together in the middle of their infield for the 2004 season. While there are still questions to be answered about new shortstop Kazuo Matsui and relocated phenom Jose Reyes, the early indications are that the Mets have built the foundation for a future dynasty.

When pursuing Matsui first became a reality last fall, the Mets' Far East scout came to Fred Wilpon at the fall organizational meetings looking for assurances that if he promised Matsui he would play shortstop as a Met, that his word would be backed by the organization.

For the Mets, that was the biggest impediment to signing Matsui. They already had an electric phenom at shortstop in Reyes. There were those opposed to moving Reyes both inside and outside the organization. Once the decision was made on Matsui, however, the Mets kept their word, and Reyes graciously accepted the move to second base.

Now, after only a few weeks of learning the position, Reyes appears to have made the adjustment fairly easily.

With coaches Chico Fernandez, Edgar Alfonzo, and Matt Galante all taking turns providing instruction and hitting fungoes, Reyes' transformation is almost complete. Both Reyes and Matsui have amazing range and between them the hole up the middle of the field collapses to something resembling more of a fissure, or a crack.

It comes as somewhat of a surprise to onlookers that nifty little plays like glove flips and backhanded shovel passes are actually things that the players practice. Matsui and Reyes spend hours each day fielding grounders and tossing each other a ball. Learning the idiosyncrasies of each others game, where they like to receive the ball, how fast they move.

Today's workouts took place in, what for Florida is, frigid 60 degree weather. Matsui and Reyes took turns in the batting cage honing their swings. The Mets aren't just counting on them to provide defensive prowess, but also to form the ignition switch for the Mets offensive engine. Slated to bat at the top of the lineup, both players possess amazing speed. Matsui stole over 50 bases twice in Japan and more than 25 seven times. Reyes nabbed 58 in 2002 and another 39 last year between Norfolk and New York.

They're both switch hitters, fabulous athletes, tremendous defenders, and both generate surprising power via terrific bat speed.

It was certainly a gamble to move one of the most exciting young players in baseball this offseason, but here in St. Lucie, the Mets are starting to see some signs that it's a gamble that just might pay off.

Camp Notes:

Scott Strickland threw from halfway up the mound on Thursday and reported feeling "borderline spectacular" both immediately afterwards and again this morning. He experienced no pain.

Pitching guru Rick Peterson met with both Al Leiter and Tom Glavine for brief discussions prior to the pitchers going about their daily workouts.

As reported yesterday by The Star-Ledger, Mike Piazza's personal yoga instructor was at camp again today. Andy Bourel seemed somewhat amused by the sudden fame that comes with being Piazza's stretch-master.

David Wright has seemed to enjoy swinging his own personalized custom lumber the last few days. I guess being a top prospect means you don't have to pull "pro stock" bats out of boxes in the minor league clubhouse anymore.

Finally, on a personal notice, I might not be famous on sight yet, but my photos are...in Korea anyway. After doing an interview with Jae Seo, Seoul Television captured an 8x10 I took of Seo with a television camera for the folks back home. Not as cool as being Mike Piazza's yoga guru, but hey, you can't always start at the top.

PHOTOS: J. Diaz, Glavine, R. Peterson/Glavine(2), Seo, Peterson, Peterson, Leiter, Strickland, Heilman, M. Peterson(2), Strickland, Heilman/Seo, Kazmir(2), Wilson(2), Kazmir, Brazell, Leon Lee, Erickson, Gonzalez, Reyes(2), Matsui, Piazza, Valent, Wright, Reyes, Matsui, Reyes(2), Wright, Reyes(3), Matsui/Reyes(6), Erickson, M. Peterson, Seo, Wright, Duncan, Wilson, Wright, Wilson, McEwing, Wright(3), Wigginton, Wilson, K. Garcia

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