New York Daily News

A fresh start for Cabrera

- BY KRISTIE ACKERT

PORT ST. LUCIE — The Mets’ new middle infield met for the first time Monday when shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera arrived at Tradition Field to begin workouts. New second baseman Neil Walker introduced himself. Then they got to work.

“Not that much,” Cabrera said when asked how much work it will take to learn to play with a new second baseman. “He’s really a good second baseman. We’re going to be fine, we’ll work on that.”

Terry Collins was impressed by what he saw.

“He’s a very good player,” the Mets manager said. “He brings that veteran presence again. I’ll just reiterate what we saw last year when Kelly (Johnson) and Juan (Uribe) came in. It makes it easier on those younger players.

“I watched him play ground balls, he’s got great hands,” Collins said. “We think offensivel­y he’s going to add a lot to our lineup. He was a great pick-up I thought. We’ll get he and Neil working together, it’s going to be fun to watch as they advance through spring training.”

Cabrera’s defense has never been above average — his career defensive runs saved is -29, and his range at shortstop has been called below average by several scouts.

The Mets are hoping that shifting will help improve Cabrera’s defense.

“I think it will help Asdrubal because he hasn’t played behind our kind of pitching in a while,” Collins said. “I think that will help him out, with some of his positionin­g.”

The new teammates the 30-year-old two-time All-Star Cabrera was all too familiar with and eager to meet were the Mets’ young starting pitchers. They left a real impression on him from his time playing with the Nationals.

“When I am on that (other) side, I thought ‘it would be fun to play with them rather than against them,’ ” Cabrera said with a laugh. “They are really young and good, too.”

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