After six straight games in American League ballparks, Collins and the Mets will return to National League rules tonight at Citi Field against the Reds, eliminating the designated hitter from the equation as the manager tries to find steady playing time for four outfielders.
Collins hinted yesterday he likely will try to keep Jason Bay and Lucas Duda consistent at the corner outfield positions while using Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Andres Torres in a center field platoon.
Nieuwenhuis hit two home runs yesterday and Bay added another in the Mets’ 9-6 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field that capped a three-game sweep.
“Andres has done such a good job against left-handed pitching, we’ve got to get him in there and the place he plays best is center field, so I’m going to make sure he gets some time,” Collins said.
“We would like to see Lucas in there every day. Jason, when he gets it going, he’s an everyday guy. We’re just really lucky that we’ve got that many talented people here and we’ll do the best job we can to make sure they all stay sharp.”
Complicating the equation is the fact Collins would like to get Scott Hairston in the lineup against many lefties. The Reds are scheduled to throw three righties — Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto — at the Mets this weekend.
* Justin Turner [ankle] played a minor league rehab game for Triple-A Buffalo yesterday and went 1-for-4 in a 5-0 loss to the Pawtucket Red Sox. Turner could rejoin the Mets within the next few days, but Collins cautioned he would like to ensure the infielder receives enough at-bats before returning and therefore he could remain at Buffalo into next week. ... Ronny Cedeno [quad] is expected to begin a rehab assignment at Buffalo today. ... Ruben Tejada [quadriceps] has begun jogging.
* Ike Davis’ spot in the Mets lineup would seem secure after he finished 6-for-11 with a homer and six RBIs in the three-game sweep.
Davis had a pair of RBI singles yesterday and finished 2-for-4 with a walk.
Terry Collins, Collins, the Mets, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Jason Bay, Andres Torres, Citi Field, Lucas Duda, ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Johnny Cueto, Pawtucket Red Sox, Bronson Arroyo, Scott Hairston, center field, American League, Justin Turner, National League, Homer Bailey