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Mets’ Brodie Van Wagenen bracing for positive coronavirus tests

Reporting day for spring training 2.0 is just the beginning of the worry for the Mets.

With players arriving to New York and required to undergo their first COVID-19 testing in preparation for Friday’s initial full-squad workout at Citi Field, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen set the tone Tuesday for what should be a camp and season like no other in the sport’s history.

“There’s going to be an element of concern and focus every time people come to the ballpark, to make sure our players are healthy,” Van Wagenen said. “We have seen the NBA results. We have to believe that there will be positive tests that come out of these tests at some point in time, but we’ll hope to have as many healthy people in camp as we possibly can.”

The NBA results included two members of the Nets, Spencer Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan, recently testing positive for the coronavirus. Van Wagenen previously disclosed that a member of the Mets’ 40-man roster has tested positive.

Mets players arriving ahead of Wednesday’s official report date already have begun getting tested. The wait time for the results is 48 hours. Any player testing positive will be quarantined for two weeks, leaving it unlikely that the infected party would be ready for the start of the 60-game season on July 23 or 24.

Yoenis Cespedes
Yoenis CespedesAP

The down time since March has perhaps helped the Mets more than hindered them. One added benefit is the strong possibility Yoenis Cespedes will be ready to contribute after two years of rehabbing from heel surgeries and ankle fractures, and another might be Dellin Betances.

When camp was suspended in March, the right-handed reliever was racing to build his arm strength for Opening Day. Now the Mets shouldn’t have to worry. Betances, a free-agent arrival, appeared in only one game last season with the Yankees because of a right shoulder impingement and torn left Achilles.

“We are extremely excited about where he is physically,” Van Wagenen said. “He’s one of the players that has been off the mound and able to face real hitters over the last couple of weeks in live batting practice, simulated games.

“He’s had multiple sessions where he has faced live major league hitters over the course of the last couple of weeks. He’s encouraged. Our performance staff evaluated him over the last couple of days and we’re ready to see what he looks like when we start going here.”

Van Wagenen indicated the Mets will begin camp without any injury concerns among pitchers, beyond already having three months to absorb that Noah Syndergaard is sidelined for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March.

Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, Steven Matz, Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha will begin camp as the Mets’ starting five.

“I think we definitely have five starters that have track records of success in that role,” Van Wagenen said. “I would envision those five starters being in place, hopefully if they’re healthy and whether or not we add to that mix will be determined by how the arms and bodies of these guys respond and also the effectiveness of where the bullpen arms are at that point.”

The new faces in camp since the spring will include veteran outfielder Melky Cabrera, who was signed this week and added to the Mets’ 60-man player pool. Van Wagenen indicated the team was interested enough in the switch-hitting Cabrera in spring training to arrange a workout for him.

“When you look at a 60-person player pool and you are really limited to how many players can come on and off your roster, and added to the designated hitter, we felt having someone with as accomplished a career as a hitter as Melky was that he was a perfect fit for us,” Van Wagenen said. “Even at this stage in his career he has premium bat-to-ball skills that he can get on base for us. Those were two elements that we felt gave real important depth to our camp.”

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