Mets outfielders are most excited about the group's speed and defense
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Chris Young is as thrilled to be part of the Mets' new-look outfield as he is about playing in New York -- and that's saying something.
"I've been waiting for an opportunity like this all my life," Young said Monday. "I loved Arizona. I loved Oakland. But this is different. It's my first time being able to play East Coast baseball. When I go to Philly and D.C. and Miami and especially Atlanta, it just feels like a different brand of baseball. There's a little more pressure, but I like that."
Like fellow free-agent acquisition Curtis Granderson, Young's battle has primarily been with consistency. He batted .257 with 27 homers, 91 RBIs and 28 steals for Arizona in 2010. Last season, he hit .200 with 12 homers and 10 steals in 107 games for Oakland.
"I haven't had a problem hitting the ball out of the ballpark," he said. "It's been those 'in-between' at-bats. I've worked a lot this offseason to change my approach. The power's going to be there. If I can get on more and get my average up, I feel it will change my whole dynamic.
"In the outfield, I feel like I can really affect the game big time. With the offense, it's the same thing. I feel like I can really supplement this lineup and help this team by getting on base, stealing some bases."
Young, 30, would like to play centerfield but knows he's not alone. Eric Young Jr. would like to play center and bat leadoff. Granderson, with proven 40-homer power, needs to play. Second-year outfielder Juan Lagares just wants to find a spot after batting .242 as a rookie and stealing 100 bases during his minor-league career.
Manager Terry Collins is a long way from determining how he will deploy his troops. That's why he instructed Granderson to shag fly balls at all three positions after batting practice Monday.
"That's a good problem from a manager's standpoint," said Eric Young, who stole a National League-best 46 bases in 2013, 38 after joining the Mets from Colorado in June. "The pitchers are going to be happy because they know we are going to get to the ball. It's going to be fun to see. There shouldn't be too many balls dropping."
Collins likes the sound of ball striking leather.
"I go back to what I said all of last year: We got better because we caught the baseball in the outfield, and we've got four guys, right now, who can go catch it," Collins said.
Chris Young believes the Mets can take it a step further this season thanks to their ramped-up range.
"I think we can be one of the best in baseball in the outfield," he said. "You're talking about guys with a lot of experience, guys with good arms. Hopefully, we can get on the good side of our pitchers. Hopefully, they'll love us out there because we're going to be busting our butts."