NEW YORK -- For the time being, rookie Mike Baxter has found a home at the top of the Mets' starting lineup against right-handed pitchers. After manager Terry Collins talked about shortstop Ronny Cedeno seeing time in the leadoff spot on Thursday, the surging Baxter found his name at the top of the lineup card Friday for the third time in the last four games.
"I've been very, very pleased with what I've seen out of Mike," Collins said. "Coming into Spring Training, he knew the job was available. He started out in Spring Training to win the job. He shortened his swing up. He doesn't have a lot of moving parts to his swing."
Baxter is batting .379 in May and nearly hit for the cycle in the Mets' 6-5 win over the Blue Jays on Sunday. Baxter's torrid streak earned him the leadoff spot in the first two games of the series in Pittsburgh. He went 2-for-8 with two runs scored in those games, as the Mets won both contests.
Before Tuesday, Baxter had never batted leadoff in the Major Leagues. He hit in the first spot in the order in college and in the Minor Leagues for the Padres' organization.
"Ultimately it just falls on having good quality at-bats," Baxter said. "You want to see pitches, but you also want to get on base. So if you get on base early in the count with a good pitch to hit, get it, but it's good if you can work a seven- or eight-pitch at-bat so everyone can kind of get a look."
Baxer's initial role with the team was as a situational pinch-hitter, but he's earned further playing time as the season has progressed. On Friday, Collins called Baxter's evolution this season "truly amazing." His .431 OBP is second on the team only to David Wright.
"It's nice to be in the lineup and it's nice to get at-bats," Baxter said. "I'm not ever going to get too caught up with where I am in the lineup or if I'm starting or not starting, because I think that's what has made this team pretty successful this year."