DENVER -- This time, Mets manager Terry Collins didn't bother hinting about the status of his outfield.
Centerfielder Juan Lagares will remain in the starting lineup, displacing Eric Young Jr., who had been the team's primary leadoff man. Lagares made his third straight start Saturday night against the Rockies, and although he went 1-for-6, the hit was an RBI single in the top of the ninth that gave the Mets a 10-9 lead in what became an 11-10 loss.
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"He's going to be out there the majority of the time," Collins said. "He's got to be. He's the future. He's showing he's getting better at it."
Lagares, whose average dropped to .318, began the night with a team-high .359 on-base percentage. In his first three games since coming off the disabled list on Thursday, he's 5-for-15 with three doubles.
With the spacious dimensions at Coors Field, Lagares seemed to be a natural fit to play centerfield. His offensive production made the decision even easier. Said Collins: "You leave him out there and hopefully he keeps swinging the way he has been."
Collins said the Mets could re-evaluate if Lagares dips into a slump. But until then, he said Lagares will be the everyday centerfielder. "Right now, he's getting on base, he's doing all the things you want," he said. "People don't score on him when he's got the baseball in his hand."
Down on the farm
Top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard isn't expected to be promoted until June. But a rival talent evaluator said this past week that the righthander "continues to be as advertised" while pitching for Triple-A Las Vegas.
With a fastball hitting 98 mph late in starts and a changeup that has "become a weapon," the scout said Syndergaard will be "ready for the call when needed."
Syndergaard, 21, is 4-2 with a 3.94 ERA in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
The scout is bullish on the Mets' chances of getting solid production out of Jacob deGrom and Rafael Montero should they be promoted to pitch out of the bullpen.
DeGrom has a 1.89 ERA in his six starts. "DeGrom is mixing in a few more two-seamers, moving off barrels more than he has in the past," the scout said.
Montero is 3-1 with a 4.31 ERA, though the evaluator called that number a "product of the environment."
"He likes to be aggressive with his fastball," the scout said. "And the desert air has a way of frustrating those type of pitchers."
In his first start against a lefthander this season, Lucas Duda smoked an RBI single in the first inning Saturday night against Rockies starter Franklin Morales . . . The Mets survived a first-inning challenge when Anthony Recker advanced to third base on Duda's single. The review lasted 1 minute, 37 seconds.