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Terry Collins explains why Mets might bat pitchers eighth

Mets manager Terry Collins looks on during a

Mets manager Terry Collins looks on during a spring training workout on Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

VIERA, Fla. - Matt Harvey probably is going to bat eighth Friday when he pitches against the Cardinals in Jupiter. It's a lineup look that could carry over to the regular season more than the 10 times Mets manager Terry Collins batted his starting pitchers eighth in 2014, he said Thursday.

Collins said he is considering using Curtis Granderson as his leadoff hitter and Juan Lagares as the No. 9 hitter when he moves up the pitcher.

The theory is you get more at-bats for your top hitters with runners on base because the ninth-place hitter is much more likely to reach base than the pitcher is.

It also helps that the Mets have three potentially good-hitting pitchers in Jacob deGrom, Harvey and Jon Niese. But that's not the main reason Collins (and, perhaps, the people above him who are more stat-oriented) are considering making the practice more than just a conversation starter.

"Those are basically statistically our best offensive players," Collins said of Granderson, David Wright and Lucas Duda, who each would move up a spot in this configuration. "So you want guys on base when they come up. There's a huge stat out there: There's a position in the lineup that has 100 percent of the time come up with the most with nobody on base. That's the No. 3 hitter."

Collins may not have gotten that stat exactly correct, but at least he's trying.

Collins said the biggest reason not to move Lagares is how well the Gold Glove centerfielder has looked at the plate in spring training. Lagares, who homered Thursday night against the Nationals, is batting .383 with three home runs and six RBIs.

"I haven't seen him ever swing the bat this good," Collins said. "It doesn't seem like he's fooled by anything. He's looked very, very good lately. That's why he's making the decision of how we're going to handle the batting order, it's making it tougher and tougher. Which is good to see."

This spring, the Mets under new hitting coach Kevin Long have emphasized teaching their pitchers to be better hitters.

"They have to be," Collins said. "That's part of their job. It's the National League. Guys who can help themselves are going to get more wins. It's been a big point this spring, and that's why we've spent as much time as we have in them trying to get better offensively."

Last year, deGrom (.217) was the Mets' only regular starting pitcher to bat higher than .100. Niese, who hit .213 combined in 2012-13, slumped to .091. Bartolo Colon hit .032 and Dillon Gee was even worse at .026.

Harvey, who takes great pride in his hitting, went 6-for-18 (.333) as a rookie in 2012 before dropping to .086 in 2013. He has relished the extra bat work.

"Being in the National League, you realize you need to hit," he said. "We take pride in not being the easy out. We've been out there way more than we have been in the past.

"Instead of having us pitchers go out there and just throwing us 10 pitches each and calling it a day, we're actually doing situational hitting, we're working on moving guys over, getting bunts down -- the same kind of things the hitters are doing."

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