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Mets offer Gary Matthews Jr. no guarantees on playing time

January 22, 2010 | 12:06 pm

Gary Matthews Jr. as the center fielder for the New York Mets? Not so fast.

With Carlos Beltran coming off knee surgery and likely out until May, the Mets acquired Matthews from the Angels today for reliever Brian Stokes. The agent for Matthews said his client would have the opportunity to play every day until Beltran returned, but Mets General Manager Omar Minaya said Matthews would have to earn that opportunity in spring training.

The Mets also will consider Angel Pagan, who hit. 306 with six home runs and an .837 OPS in 88 games last season. Matthews hit .250 with four home runs and a .697 OPS in 104 games for the Angels.

"I think there's going to be an open competition," Minaya said in a conference call. "That's the same thing I told Gary."

Minaya said he appreciated Matthews' ability to play all three outfield positions, suggesting the Mets view him as a reserve outfielder.

"With Carlos or without Carlos, he just makes our team better," Minaya said.

Minaya said he was not concerned that the Angels moved Matthews out of center field one year after signing him to a five-year contract.

"In that particular situation, the Anaheim" -- and here Minaya paused briefly -- "Los Angeles Angels went out and got Torii Hunter. They made an investment in Torii Hunter. This is mostly going to be a change of scenery. It's an opportunity for him to come to New York, and hopefully he can get more playing time."

-- Bill Shaikin