Anthony Rieber Newsday columnist Anthony Rieber

Anthony Rieber has been at Newsday since Aug. 31, 1998 and in his current position since 2004.

You probably don't want to hear this, Mets fans, but Chris Young seems like a really nice guy.

Curtis Granderson, too. Ruben Tejada is sweet kid who's always smiling. Travis d'Arnaud works as hard as anyone. Lucas Duda is a lovable big lug.

And David Wright. You'd want your daughter to bring home a guy as decent as the Mets' captain.

But none of that means anything on the field. You know what they say about where nice guys finish. The Mets went into yesterday's 5-0 win over the Pirates tied with the Phillies for that place -- last.

Young -- Sandy Alderson's $7.25 million gamble -- returned to the lineup after a three-game absence so the Mets could look at this kid named Bobby Abreu.

Yes, 40-year-old Bobby Abreu, who actually performed well, with five hits and a walk in the three games.

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But Abreu didn't start the day game after a night game (not even on Dinosaur Education Day, which it was at Citi Field). So Young was in the fifth spot against righthander Charlie Morton and went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.

Young failed in three RBI situations, striking out with men on first and second in the first and grounding to third with a man on third two innings later. In the eighth, he lined to short with a runner on second.

Young's walk turned into a negative when he was caught trying to advance to third on an errant pitch for the second out of the sixth.

Young is batting .195 with three homers and 11 RBIs. Unfortunately, he's on pace to match his numbers from last season, when he hit .200 with 12 HRs and 41 RBIs for Oakland.

And yes, everyone knows Nelson Cruz went into the day leading MLB with 17 homers after signing an $8-million deal late in the offseason with the Orioles.

It's a classic second guess to say Alderson could have signed Cruz instead of Young. Twenty-eight other teams could have signed him, too.

The better first guess is why Alderson signed Young so early (Nov. 26) before the market for outfielders had developed. It was a "huh?" move then and continues to be one as the Mets desperately search for the offense that eluded them under fired hitting coach Dave Hudgens.

Now, Lamar Johnson is here and Young is getting another chance. After losing at-bats to Abreu and rookie Eric Campbell, it's getting close to put-up-or-shut-up time for Young, and he knows it.

"It's my responsibility to swing the bat better and play better," Young said. "I hold myself fully accountable for that. When I do get that opportunity, I do need to take more advantage of it to where I force myself into the lineup everyday like I want to be."

Young is not blaming Mets fans for booing and making his job tougher, as Hudgens suggested is happening to players and manager Terry Collins backed up this week.

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"You feel it," Young said. "But you know what you sign up for playing in New York. I knew that it was going to be that type of environment. It's high highs and low lows. If you're playing well, you're everybody's favorite and if you're struggling, people get frustrated with that. With me coming in and understanding that, it's nothing that I feel I can't handle. Things will turn. When I start swinging that bat better, things will turn."

At his best, Young hit .257-27-91 with a .793 OPS. But that was in 2010 with Arizona. It's been a steady slide since. It's why the 30-year-old was available to the Mets.

Young is on the clock if he wants to keep playing. Nice guy or not, he's got to prove he's not finished if he's going to last.