Terry Collins stopped short of declaring a spring training do-over. But on Saturday morning, he acknowledged that the Mets don't have what he considers a set outfield. Translation: Don't be surprised to see more of the mixing and matching the Mets have done with their outfield the last few days.
Said Collins: "I wouldn't say we have a set-set outfield that's not going to change."
Indeed, Collins seems to like the outfield, though he may not quite like-like them. Make sense?
Collins shuffled the deck again against the Marlins. As he said he'd do earlier this week, the manager penciled Mike Baxter (rightfield) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (centerfield) into the starting lineup, essentially loading his lineup with lefties against righthander Ricky Nolasco.
In this case, Collins' reasoning is two-fold. First, he wants to make sure that Baxter and Nieiuwenhuis get enough at-bast to stay sharp for pinch hitting duty. Secondly, he wants to stack the lineup with lefties against Nolasco. It's a small sample, but Nieuwenhuis is 3-for-5 [.600] against Nolasco where as Marlon Byrd is 2-for-11 [.182].
"Sure, we're going to mix and match," Collins said. "There may be certain guys that are maybe not a good matchup for a righthanded hitting outfielder, where getting our lefties in there will give us a chance to get the lead and go from there."
That statement comes less than a week after the Mets began the season with what they insisted was an outfield with no platoons. Collins insisted that his roster changes had little to do with performance thus far -- he cited Opening Day centerfielder Collin Cowgill in particular.
"Don't be surprised to see Collin Cowgill back out there the next two or three days in a row," Collins said. "But I just think it's important because of the situations to make sure that guys are ready to hit."
Regardless of however Collins wants to frame it, it's difficult to blame the Mets for essentially cycling through their options. Nobody in this current crop of outfielders appears to be a slam dunk to play every day, despite Collins' past declarations. Leftfielder Lucas Duda comes closest, though as he showed on Friday night, the tradeoff for keeping his bat in the lineup still involves a few rough moments in left field.
Said Collins: "It's the time of year where you've got to start to figure out [what] their role is going to be."
The starting lineups:
Juan Pierre LF
Placido Polanco 3B
Giancarlo Stanton RF
Greg Dobbs 1B
Justin Ruggiano CF
Miguel Olivo C
Adeiny Hechavarroa SS
Donovan Solano 2B
Ricky Nolasco RHP
Mike Baxter RF
Daniel Murphy 2B
David Wright 3B
Ike Davis 1B
John Buck C
Lucas Duda LF
Kirk Nieuwenhuis CF
Ruben Tejada SS
Jonathon Niese LHP