LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After Mike Baxter was placed on waivers by the Padres and claimed by the Mets last July, he thought he should give his new team a scouting report on himself. And center field wasn't at the top of his list.
"I wanted to give them a detailed analysis of what I'd done in the past," he said. "It was right field, then first base, then left field, then center, in order of games played."
Now that injuries to Andres Torres and Scott Hairston have the Mets scrambling to sort out center field options, though, he wants to make sure he wasn't misunderstood.
"I feel good in the outfield. I feel good in center field," he said. "I take reps there. I work hard there. I'm glad I'm having an opportunity to play there, because in the past I've been behind other players. Even if it's just limited time in Spring Training, it's exciting to get a chance to play center, and I think it's important for my style of game to be able to play there."
Baxter got his latest chance Friday at Champion Stadium, starting in center during New York's 9-4 loss to Atlanta. And he continued to impress, going 2-for-2 with a walk and 2 RBIs while raising his Grapefruit League batting average to .343.
And that's without his swing being where he thinks it can be.
"I'm pretty satisfied with it now, but I also think there's some room left to improve," he said. "From the start of camp, I've been trying to prepare for the season regardless of the spot I'm trying to win. Having good at-bats, trying to take the ball back up the middle of the field, getting my timing down. Over the last couple weeks, I feel like it's starting to come together."
Manager Terry Collins is trying to get him some playing time to see how he handles the field.
"He's been OK," the manager said. "He's done fine."