Terry Collins knew Angel Pagan was uncomfortable batting leadoff the last time Jose Reyes was on the disabled list.
So when Reyes was again placed on the DL before Monday night’s game, Collins took a proactive approach in making out that night’s lineup. The manager summoned Pagan into his office to explain that the Mets needed him atop the order.
“As I’ve tried to maintain all year long, I want them to have a voice because when he left that room, we both were on exactly the same page,” Collins said. “He knew he was the guy that fills that spot the best. He understood the situation that this is the time when the veteran player — which he is — has to step up.”
Pagan’s response, according to Collins, was more encouraging than their initial conversation last month, with the centerfielder saying: “I’ll do whatever you need me to do. I’m swinging the bat better than I was before. I know I’m the right guy for that and I’m ready to do it.”
Back in July, Pagan told Collins that he belonged further down in the lineup. But the manager didn’t really have any other options for the leadoff spot. No one else could match the speed of Pagan, who also has the benefit of being a switch hitter.
Pagan was probably more receptive because of his improved performance at the plate. He entered last night’s game hitting .298 (14-for-47) in his previous 11 games with seven runs. Pagan smacked the Mets’ first leadoff homer this season and the third of his career Monday night. He homered again last night to start a three-run eighth inning.