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Time is now: Mets ready to spring into contention

Collins eyes rebound year for club's key pieces as reporting week arrives in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

NEW YORK -- Back in December, amid all the optimism of another Hot Stove season, Mets manager Terry Collins offered confidence.

"It's time," Collins said, referring to his team's 2015 playoff chances. "I've done nothing for the last four years but preach to our fan base to be patient, and I've been trying to be patient. Well, I think we've got the pieces. It's time to step up."

If that was true then, it rings even truer today. Spring Training is officially set to open this week, with pitchers and catchers reporting Thursday, and Collins making his annual state of the Mets address that same morning. The rest of the team will report by Feb. 24, with the first full-squad workout taking place two days later.

Spring Training: Tickets | Ballpark | 40-man roster | Non-roster invitees

It is time, essentially, for the Mets to prove they are not just talk. Though the team has not made postseason play since 2006 -- an eternity given the parity and extra Wild Card spot in today's game -- the Mets feel they finally have the club to do it. Along with production from outfield additions Michael Cuddyer and John Mayberry Jr., the Mets expect contributions from healthy versions of starting pitcher Matt Harvey, third baseman David Wright and closer Bobby Parnell. They anticipate improvement from young outfielder Juan Lagares, catcher Travis d'Arnaud and shortstop Wilmer Flores.

And they expect nothing less than a playoff berth to spawn from all that.

"We feel we've [added] three, in my opinion, major pieces with Bobby, Matt, David coming back off a rough year," Collins said. "I just think there are a lot of positives, and we've shown that we can compete. We can sit here right now and break down seven wins we should have had last year, which would have all of a sudden made this a whole different season. So I think we're that close."

Video: Harvey discusses his health entering Spring Training

Technically, the Mets' wait will continue through seven weeks of workouts, Grapefruit League games and exhibitions, all leading up to their April 6 opener in Washington. But there is plenty to keep them busy in the interim, from tracking Harvey's progress to reassigning one of their excess starting pitchers to filling out the back end of their bullpen. All of that will take place in Florida, most of it at their home base in Port St. Lucie.

For the Mets, "now" starts now.

"We've got some pitching," Collins said. "And you know what? We've got an All-Star at third base who had a bad year. I don't know that he's ever had a bad year, so we certainly think he'll bounce back. So you put a big bat in the middle of your lineup along with Michael Cuddyer, and Lucas Duda getting his opportunity, and we know what [Daniel Murphy] is going to do. Obviously, we have a good idea of what Curtis [Granderson] is going to do. So we have a lot of pieces. The idea is to make sure your bench is strong enough to give those guys time off so you stay healthy and stay fresh. But there is no reason why we shouldn't be able to compete."

Pitchers and catchers report

Full squad reports
Feb. 24

First Spring Training game
Away vs. Braves, March 4 at 1:05 p.m. ET

Opening Day
Away vs. Nationals, April 6 at 4:05 p.m. ET

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo.
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