Alvarez Could Contribute To Mets Bullpen





NEW YORK—Righthander Manny Alvarez already has a place in team history—even if it's a right place, right time footnote.

The 25-year-old Venezuelan became the first player added to the 40-man roster on the watch of new general manager Sandy Alderson.

But Alvarez might be more than just the answer to a trivia question. He could find a way into the big league bullpen.

Director of international scouting Ismael Cruz signed Alvarez twice, the first time back in 2004 when he worked for the Expos. Alvarez had not advanced past the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League when he drew his release in January '07. Led by Cruz, the Mets signed Alvarez that May . . . and he proceeded to toil for two more seasons in rookie ball.

Alvarez showed signs of life in 2009 simply by jumping straight to high Class A St. Lucie.

His progress continued this season as he earned a promotion to Double-A Binghamton in May and finished with Triple-A Buffalo. Across three levels, Alvarez went 6-4, 2.17 in 56 appearances, while notching a fine 84-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 79 innings. With Terry Collins' move from field coordinator to manager, the odds for Alvarez and other prospects to reach New York could improve.

"Anyone on the 40-man roster is automatically in major league camp," farm director Adam Wogan said. "So he'll be there in spring training with a chance.

"He'd had a subpar year in (Rookie-level) Kingsport (in 2008). He went down to winter ball (in Venezuela) and started throwing more of a two-seam fastball. He throws a two and four-seamer, but he suddenly had great movement with better command and he took off."

As the big league bullpen struggled in 2010, organizational meetings polled scouts and executives for arms who might be able to help.

"(Alvarez) forced his promotions," Wogan said. "There was no game plan. His performance was as dominating as the numbers show. He has real good control.

"He deserved a shot. It became clear he needed to be tested at Buffalo in case he was going to be brought up."

METAMORPHOSES

• Shortstop Wilmer Flores sat out more than a month of the Venezuelan League season with a hamstring injury, but upon his return he singled in his first game back. In his second he collected a home run, a single and a walk.

• New York added four players to its 40-man roster: righthanders Armando Rodriguez and Josh Stinson, second baseman Jordany Valdespin and third baseman Zach Lutz.