When Darrell Ceciliani walks to the plate, he holds the midsection of his bat with both hands. That's where the pine tar is.
He bends down between each pitch and wipes his hands in the batter's box dirt, adding friction to his bare palms.
Ceciliani does not wear batting gloves, and that's one of the first details Mets manager Terry Collins notes when talking about his 24-year-old outfielder, the one with a detectable old-school flair.
"We use the term loosely a lot, but to me he typifies it: He's a baseball player," Collins said. "No batting gloves, hits the ball to all fields, runs the bases hard, runs them intelligently."
Ceciliani displayed all of the above in the Mets' 3-2 win over the Blue Jays Tuesday night at Citi Field.
Starting in left for Michael Cuddyer, who Collins said was resting in preparation for the Mets' two upcoming games on Toronto's artificial turf, Ceciliani went 2-for-3 to raise his average to .293.
The lefthanded hitter smoked a single the other way in the second inning, advancing Wilmer Flores to third to set up Ruben Tejada's RBI single that gave the Mets a 1-0 lead. An inning later, Ceciliani hit a two-out single up the middle. In the sixth, he made a routine ground ball to short a close play at first.
"I'm just trying to stay relaxed, go out and do my thing and compete and battle," said Ceciliani, who has gone 5-for-12 while starting three of the last four games. "The best advice a lot of guys have given me is do what got you here. Don't change. You got here for a reason so stay with what you do and relax."
The Mets' fourth-round pick in 2009, Ceciliani hit .336 with five home runs and 17 RBIs in 37 games with Triple-A Las Vegas this season before the Mets promoted him on May 19. He had a career minor-league average of .286 in 498 games.
"If you go back and look at his minor-league resume, he's always hit," Collins said. "He's just had a tough time staying on the field and staying healthy. Now he has, and he's got to the big leagues. We like a lot of the things he brings to the party."
Ceciliani hit his first home run in the Mets' 10-8 win over Atlanta on Sunday, and he turned a tough foul ball near the wall in left into a double play a day earlier.
"He's had good, consistent at-bats and played phenomenal defense," said John Mayberry Jr., one of Ceciliani's mentors in the outfield. "Whenever his name's been called, he's definitely been up for the task."
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