37° Good Evening
37° Good Evening

Eric Young Jr. realistic about being the fourth outfielder

From left, Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies

From left, Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies and Eric Young Jr. of the Mets talk during batting practice prior to their game at Coors Field on May 1, 2014 in Denver. Credit: Getty Images / Doug Pensinger

DENVER - Officially, the Mets will employ a rotation in the outfield, with four players set to split time in three spots.

But in practice, Eric Young Jr. appears to be the odd man out in a outfield situation that has gained some clarity with the return of centerfielder Juan Lagares from the disabled list.

"Like I said, being in the major leagues, it really don't matter how you get in there," Young said. "You just want to make sure you contribute."

Young had been the Mets' leadoff man. But since coming off the DL on Thursday, Lagares has started both games in the leadoff spot and in centerfield. Manager Terry Collins said Friday that Lagares may get more chances atop the lineup.

"Right now, I don't see anybody else that we have that really fits that mold," Collins said. "So, he's going to have to do it for right now."

Collins sees the leadoff spot as a challenge for Lagares, who has three doubles in his first two games back. Lagares entered play with a team-best .356 on-base percentage.

"You've got to work really hard to be a leadoff hitter," Collins said. "You've got to make a pitcher work, you've got to see some pitches, you've got to fight off some stuff so that pretty much the rest of those guys in the middle of the lineup have an idea of what to expect when they get up there. That's what a good leadoff hitter does."

Collins has committed to keeping the slumping Curtis Granderson in rightfield and has been pleased lately with Chris Young's production in leftfield. That leaves Eric Young Jr. without a clear spot -- even though he may still get occasional starts.

"They brought us all in yesterday and just said we're going to do a rotation," said Young, who entered Friday night's game with a .321 on-base percentage this season and a club-high 20 runs and 12 stolen bases.

"From my perspective on this, those aren't my decisions. It's up to the manager and the front office. All I can do is be ready when my name is called between the lines, whether it's starting or off the bench."

Young has a history of playing off the bench, and Collins praised his versatility as a switch hitter who can play both centerfield and second base.

Young doesn't expect to have any issues staying sharp -- even if he's not playing everyday.

"You never know what can happen throughout the course of the season," Young said. "But again, like I said, why worry about something that I can't control? All it's going to do is cloud my mind when I really need to really focus on what I can do between the lines. That's what I'm going to do, is make sure I'm ready to go whenever I'm called."

Selig backs Wilpons. Retiring commissioner Bud Selig didn't deviate from his standard line about the Mets. Visiting Coors Field as part of his farewell tour, Selig said he has "a lot of faith" in the controlling Wilpon family and in general manager Sandy Alderson.

"I am not the least bit concerned about the Mets' ability to compete at the major-league level, no doubt about it," Selig said in response to the Mets' $86-million payroll, a relatively modest total, historically.

Selig insisted that rebuilding teams through the farm system -- as the Mets have attempted -- remains a slow process.

"I think the Mets are playing better," Selig said. "I think the Mets feel that they're better."

New York Sports