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Nieuwenhuis: First in Our Hearts, First in the Lineup

Posted By Howard Megdal On April 18, 2012 @ 8:43 am In Line-up,Today's Mets headlines | Comments Disabled

The Mets have a mercifully quick turnaround following Tuesday night’s 9-3 loss in Atlanta. About that, by the way: try not to worry too much about it. Santana is going to have his ups and downs, and Jason Bay’s fielding will settle in somewhere between home run robbing of Monday and dropping fly balls of Tuesday.
What is interesting is how quickly Terry Collins is gaining confidence in Kirk Nieuwenhuis. When he was called up, it was to platoon. Now he’s starting regularly against lefties, and thriving. He was originally hitting eighth, and Adam Rubin said on Twitter that Collins had previously indicated apprehension about hitting him leadoff. But that was way back on Monday. By Wednesday, he’s in the leadoff spot.
Let me put it this way: if Nieuwenhuis keeps playing as well as he has, Jason Bay better hope that Andres Torres takes a long time to recover. Otherwise, the Mets are going to be hard-pressed to keep Bay in the lineup when Torres returns. They need Torres’ defense in center field, with Lucas Duda flanking him, and a platoon of Bay/Nieuwenhuis fails to allow their best young position prospect to play every day to allow a 33-year-old who hasn’t hit in two-plus years some regular time.
That doesn’t sound like a plan the Mets, who have been steadily increasing Nieuwenhuis’ role, are likely to embrace. So Jason Bay needs to get well at the plate in a hurry, or Andres Torres needs to take his time. Meanwhile, enjoy the Nieuwenhuis ride.

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