PITTSBURGH -- A routine day off for Andres Torres has turned into something more, with Mets manager Terry Collins benching his starting center fielder Wednesday for the second consecutive day. Collins intercepted Torres on his way into the clubhouse Wednesday morning to relay the news.
One day after delivering a critical double to spark the game-winning rally, Mike Baxter was back in the leadoff spot for the second time this season. Kirk Nieuwenhuis started in center.
"He probably needs another day right now," Collins said of Torres. "He's working on a few things."
Mostly, Torres is working on finding a comfortable spot at the plate. After roaring out to a .333 batting average and .429 on-base percentage over his first 10 games of the season, Torres has slid into a massive slump. The center fielder is 1-for-34 dating back to May 12, reaching base less than a quarter of the time.
Compare that to Baxter, who is batting .378 overall, including 5-for-13 with three extra-base hits over his last three starts. Baxter has now started four of New York's last five games in left field, and though he has also thrived in his role as a pinch-hitter, the Queens native is beginning to make some wonder if he can force his way into more regular playing time.
"There's nothing etched in stone," Collins said. "The way he's swinging the bat, I'm trying to get his bat in the lineup. Right now, I'm trying to get a lineup that's going to score some runs."