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Juan Lagares has shown improvement at plate, not launch angle

Mets centerfielder Juan Lagares hits a two-run double

Mets centerfielder Juan Lagares hits a two-run double against the Nationals at Citi Field on Wednesday, April 18, 2018. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

SAN DIEGO — Juan Lagares’ offseason of reworking his swing to lift the ball more often has given way to a strong first month of the season, but it’s not clear if the two are related.

Manager Mickey Callaway, though, said he has seen more confidence in Lagares, who entered Saturday hitting .371 with a .425 on-base percentage and .400 slugging percentage.

“His start early in the season has just kept his confidence up. He’s been doing real ly well,” Callaway said. “What he’s done during the season is make sure he’s not chasing out of the zone, and when he gets his pitch, he’s putting a good swing on it.”

Lagares hasn’t achieved the desired result of his offseason and spring training changes, which was to hit the ball in the air more often, and hasn’t hit the ball any harder than he did last year, but he has improved in other areas. Through 18 games (40 plate appearances), Lagares still is hitting the ball on the ground about 50 percent of the time, but of the rest of his batted balls, more are line drives and fewer are fly balls.

Lagares is using the whole field — an approach hitting coaches often yearn for — and is pulling the ball nearly half as often as he did last season.

“He’s using the whole field a little bit and he’s staying on balls a little better, so he’s thinking about going to the middle of the field,” Mets hitting coach Pat Roessler said. “When guys do that, they naturally get the ball in the air a little bit more.”

Who’s on first?

Potentially, Jay Bruce.

Callaway told WOR that the Mets are considering playing Bruce at first base, as the rightfielder occasionally did in 2017 (and in 15 games in his career). Adrian Gonzalez and Wilmer Flores have platooned at first for the first month of the season.

“The more and more we go, we need to consider playing all three of those guys on first,” Callaway said. “Maybe start rotating those guys.”

Bruce said of the possibility: “I told them I’m open to it. It’s not really my choice, but I’m open to it, you know? I’m an employee here.”

That move would open playing time for Lagares and Brandon Nimmo in the outfield.

Rosario not running

Shortstop Amed Rosario, the Mets’ fastest player, has no steals and only two attempts through 22 games.

“He has the speed to get there someday,” Callaway said. “We just need to continue to try to teach him all the little basics to give him an edge to have the confidence to take off.

“He’s a little hesitant, just because he hasn’t done it that much in the past. I think his leads can be a tad bigger. Guys have to be comfortable doing things. If you’re not, then you’re not going to be successful.”

Extra bases

The Mets optioned righthander Jacob Rhame to Triple-A Las Vegas to make room for Jason Vargas . . . Vargas became the fifth Met to go at least a decade between appearances for the team. Jason Isringhausen, Bob L. Miller, Kelly Stinnett and David Cone also earned that distinction . . . First-base coach Ruben Amaro Jr. returned to work after missing four games while out sick . . . Closer Jeurys Familia will be away from the Mets on Sunday to attend a memorial service for his father-in-law, who passed away this past week.

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