DENVER -- Andres Torres will return from the disabled list Monday in Houston, leading off and starting in center field. Torres will bring a new dimension to New York's offense.
"The one thing we don't do is we don't steal bases," manager Terry Collins said. "He would bring that dimension, for sure."
Though the Mets will be careful not to disrupt their on-base percentage-oriented offense by running too often, Collins plans to give Torres the green light at all times. The outfielder swiped 19 bags in 25 attempts last season with the Giants, and holds a 74-percent success rate for his career.
Without him, the Mets entered Monday's play tied for last in the Majors with six steals.
As long as he reaches base with any sort of regularity, Torres should at least have plenty of opportunities to run. The Mets plan to slot him right back in the leadoff spot despite the success of rookie Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who will remain on the roster as a platoon left fielder, splitting time with Scott Hairston.
The Mets announced Sunday that they will option infielder Zach Lutz to Triple-A Buffalo prior to Monday's game to make room for Torres.
But there will still be opportunities for Nieuwenhuis, both atop the order and in center field. Because Torres has strained his left calf twice since mid-March, the Mets plan to be careful not to play him too frequently going forward.
"I'm going to be a little cautious in the beginning," Collins said. "The one thing I don't want to do is run him back on the DL after all of this."
Collins wavered only slightly after Sunday's game when asked about Nieuwenhuis, who made another sensational diving catch to rob Jonathan Herrera of a run-scoring extra-base hit in the fifth. Though both Torres and Nieuwenhuis are natural center fielders with little experience at other positions, Torres has had a longer, more established career in center.
And, as Collins quipped, "they hit fly balls to left, too."