Nieuwenhuis to play left, keeping bat in lineup

Nieuwenhuis to play left, keeping bat in lineup

NEW YORK -- Next up in left field for the Mets: Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

The Mets plan to ask Nieuwenhuis to man left regularly once Andres Torres returns from the disabled list, potentially keeping the rookie in the lineup almost every day. Nieuwenhuis had recently claimed sole possession of the center-field job, with Scott Hairston's platoon bat needed to sub for the injured Jason Bay in left. But with Torres due back Monday, the Mets will look to give Nieuwenhuis at-bats both in left and center field.

"Obviously, when Andres is back, I'll talk to Kirk about having to move over to the corners," manager Terry Collins said. "Plus, I'm sure we're going to be in a situation where we've got to keep our eye on Andres."

More specifically, Collins is wary of using Torres every day upon his return, given the center fielder's history of lingering injuries. So until Bay returns from the disabled list, Nieuwenhuis should receive regular opportunities between both left and center.

Collins has also said he will give natural infielder Jordany Valdespin reps in left, though not likely at the expense of Nieuwenhuis. Neither rookie has ever played left field in a professional game.

"I think you've got to figure out some way to keep his bat in the lineup as best you can," Collins said. "When Ike starts swinging the bat like he's capable of, and we get Jason back, we'll have some decisions to make. But right now, I want that offense in the lineup."