Wheeler wants to start on Opening Day

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Pitchers -- relievers and starters -- are routinely grouped for training camp drills. Seldom is the group based on anything significant -- maybe an alphabetized list of mothers' maiden names, SAT scores, musical tastes or the randomness of the mind of Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen.

But after the Sunday workout here, reliever Vic Black came to a startling conclusion. His group had been a bunch of redheads or redbeards or fellas who would qualify as redheads if they hadn't shaved their skulls. Honest to Lucy. Black, a wonderful free thinker, thought freely for a moment and suggested his group of pitchers had been victims of pigment profiling.

Ah ha! How else could the grouping be explained?

Black's hair and beard have shades of red. Also in the group was Bobby Parnell, who qualified without question or consultation with a hairdresser. It included Zack Wheeler, whose head is shaved but whose facial hair gives him away, and Josh Edgin.

How does red hair fit into the baseball equation? Quite nicely, the Astros think. They spent the first selection in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft on right-handed pitcher Mark Appel out of Stanford who is as much a redhead as Whitey Ford was a towhead when he broke in. "I guess it's OK," Black said. But he noted had been told by a scout that scouts typically shy away from redheads. Who knows why?

By the way, Black anxiously awaits the arrival in camp of one Rusty Staub.

Oh, and Ike Davis had red in his beard. And he was a pitcher at Arizona State. … Hmmm.

Nieuwenhuis battling for spot in the outfield

Chris Young on outfield position, playing in NL again

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- While little about the alignment of the Mets outfield seems settled, manager Terry Collins has told Curtis Granderson to make sure he takes fly balls in right field because of the peculiar angles of right field at Citi Field.

Collins also said Monday if the season began today Juan Lagares would be the center fielder.

"He earned that [last year]," the manager said.

Rarely mentioned in terms of the 2014 outfield is Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who begins camp with more vowels in his surname than injuries.The ratio has been reversed for much of the last two seasons. And with Lagares having semi-established himself last season, with incumbent Eric Young still the most gifted leadoff candidate, and with Granderson and Chris Young needed to reinforce the middle of the batting order, Nieuwenhuis appears to have a diminished chance of finding innings in the 2014 outfield.

He, Collins and general manmager Sandy Alderson declined Monday to acknowledge that Nieuwenhuis' window of Mets opportunity is closing. Indeed, Collins met with the left-handed 26-year-old to remind him that he remains in the club's awareness. Nieuwenhuis says good health will allow him to compete more than he has in either of the last two camps.

Pair of veteran pitchers assigned to Minors

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets signed two veteran pitchers and assigned both to the Minor League camp: left-handed Dana Eveland and right-handed Buddy Carlyle.

Eveland, 30, has a 19-25 record and a 5.46 ERA in parts of big league seasons with the Brewers, D-backs, Athletics, Blue Jays, Pirates, Dodgers and Orioles. He last pitched in the Majors in 2012.

Carlyle, 36, produced an 11-12 record and 5.58 ERA over parts of seven seasons with the Padres, Dodgers, Braves and Yankees. His last big league appearance was in 2011.