Welcome to the maturation of Jordany Valdespin. It seems to have started happening on all those bus trips back and forth from Buffalo.
It's difficult to ignore Valdespin's contributions. On Saturday, he hit his second home run in as many games, giving the Mets a 1-0 lead in the second inning. In the sixth, he evaded a tag to reach first on an infield single, putting two on with none out.
"We know he's got some power," Collins said. "It's hard to keep him out of the lineup [but] right now, it's hard to find the place where he's going to be comfortable, where you try to use his athleticism."
On Saturday, that meant starting him in leftfield, even though Valdespin is a natural infielder. He's not complaining. After all, he has had four minor-league stints in Buffalo this year. Though he said he didn't mind the opportunity to prove himself at Triple-A, he also wants a crack on center stage.
"[I want to] show to him [Collins] and everybody that I can play, that I can do the job," he said. "I enjoy every second of being here. Every situation that he gives me the chance to play . . . I'm just waiting for my time."
As for the maturity issue, Valdespin said it wasn't so much that as learning to adjust to the big leagues.
"You come up the first time, you're a little nervous," he said. "Don't get nervous. Just relax and see the ball and play my game, play hard every day."
Collins agreed with that, sort of, saying Valdespin has "more control" this time around.
"Each and every time, when he first got here, every time you just get to the major leagues, you can play out of control at times. I see much more control," he said.
It also helps that Valdespin, who Collins said likes the spotlight, can turn some of that effervescence on opposing teams.
"He plays with fervor and sometimes that bothers players on the other team, so if that causes them to get out of their game plan, then it's successful the way he plays," Collins said. "He does love to be on stage, and right now, we're just going to take what he brings to us."
And just because Valdespin is more muted hardly means he's lost the flair that made him something of a fan favorite in only a handful of games.
"They called me up for that reason," he said. "I can help the team any time of the day."