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Lagares starts in center because of expansive outfield

Juan Lagares likely will share playing time in

Juan Lagares likely will share playing time in centerfield next season. Credit: Jim McIsaac

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Perhaps Terry Collins learned an important lesson in the World Series: Beware the expansive outfield at Kauffman Stadium.

Former Gold Glover Juan Lagares started in centerfield on Opening Night, with Yoenis Cespedes in left and Michael Conforto as the DH. Last fall, Cespedes infamously misplayed the first pitch of the World Series into an inside-the-park homer by Alcides Escobar.

“This outfield, this is a big outfield,” Collins said. “You better have some guys that can go get it out here tonight.”

The move quickly backfired when Cespedes dropped the first ball hit to him Sunday night, leading to an unearned run in the first inning.

Collins left open the possibility of changing the alignment in the second game of the series Tuesday. Royals starter Chris Young has fared much better against righties (.542 OPS last season) than he has against lefties (.732). For Collins, that means the possibility of starting another lefthanded hitter, outfielder Alejandro De Aza.

Keeping watch

Mets starting pitchers have built up enough arm strength to go as deep as 105 pitches. But Collins said he still intends to keep a close eye on workloads.

“One of the things we said is that early in the season, we’re going to continue to look after them,” he said. “Because we know that coming off what they did last year, the first time a lot of those guys pitched that many innings, we got to make sure we don’t kill them early in the season.”

Fundraiser for Forde family

Mets luminaries Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, John Franco and Edgardo Alfonzo and former Giants punter Sean Landeta will sign autographs at a fundraiser for the family of late Mets media relations whiz Shannon Forde.

Foley’s NY pub in Manhattan will host the event from 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday. All money raised will benefit the Forde Childrens’ Fund, P.O Box 718, Little Ferry, N.J., 07543.

Forde lost her battle with breast cancer on March 4. She is survived by her husband John, son Nicholas (8) and daughter Kendall (5).

Extra bases

Third-base coach Tim Teufel went back to his roots, reclaiming the No. 11 that he wore during his playing days with the Mets. The number had been worn by shortstop Ruben Tejada . . . Righthander Jacob deGrom traveled to Kansas City to be with the Mets, though he could be summoned to New York at any time with his wife expecting the couple’s first child this week.

New York Sports