ATLANTA -- The evening began with newly acquired Eric Young Jr. becoming the Mets' 10th leadoff man this season. It ended with starter Shaun Marcum answering questions about his future, once again a topic following his latest debacle.
"That's up to them,'' Marcum said after allowing five runs in 42/3 innings Wednesday night in a 5-3 loss to the Braves. "I can't really do anything about that. That's their call.''
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"Them'' is the Mets' front office, which increasingly has shown a willingness to shake up an underperforming roster. It's why Young led off and played in centerfield the day after he was acquired from the Rockies for pitcher Collin McHugh. And it's why Marcum might find himself out of a rotation spot after falling to 0-9 with a 5.76 ERA.
"Unfortunately, it's been a 21/2-month ordeal for me so far,'' said Marcum, whose record is partly due to the failings of the cast around him. As he's noted frequently, Terry Collins said Marcum has pitched well at times, though a lack of run support has hurt him. It's a problem hardly unique to Marcum.
To address the issue, the Mets traded for Young, who was hitting .242 as a fourth outfielder before he was designated for assignment by the Rockies. A rival talent evaluator called his defense in center "average at best.'' He also questioned Young's ability to handle a starting role.
Said the scout: "[He] can run and bunt. Didn't see much else.''
However, the Mets have cycled through leadoff hitters with little success, and Young's speed and experience atop the order make him an option worth exploring. Said Collins: "Hopefully, he brings that energy and that speed he brought to Colorado and helps get us going offensively.''
With the Rockies, Young stole 70 bases in 313 games, an element missing from the Mets since the departure of Jose Reyes after the 2011 season.
"I'm excited,'' said Young, the son of the former big-league second baseman and outfielder. "Really, as a player, that's all you can ask for is a chance to play.''
And if the Mets lead the league in anything, it's chances.
In June alone, they have added Young, infielder Josh Satin and relievers David Aardsma and Carlos Torres. They have brought back reliever Josh Edgin and outfielders Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Andrew Brown and Collin Cowgill. Also, Cowgill was designated for assignment, along with outfielder Rick Ankiel and McHugh, who eventually was traded for Young.
Meanwhile, starting first baseman Ike Davis wound up in Triple-A Las Vegas, where he must fix his swing alongside outfielder Mike Baxter. Relievers Robert Carson and Greg Burke also landed there for a second time this season.
Now Marcum soon may be forced out of the rotation by top prospect Zack Wheeler.
Before the game, Collins offered no assurances to Marcum, who didn't help himself against the Braves. Chris Johnson blasted a three-run homer before the Mets tied it in the fifth with the help of a two-run throwing error by Kris Medlen (4-7).
However, Marcum squandered his second chance, throwing a run-scoring wild pitch and allowing an RBI double to B.J. Upton in the fifth that gave the Braves the lead for good.
Righthanders Dillon Gee and Jeremy Hefner appeared to be the most logical candidates to be bumped, while Marcum appeared safe, partly because he signed a $4-million free-agent deal this winter. But when asked before the game if contract status would play into the decision, Collins said, "I'm not really sure.''
Perhaps it was just another hint of more change on the horizon.