Nieuwenhuis gets the start against lefty pitcher

Nieuwenhuis gets the start against lefty pitcher

NEW YORK -- Kirk Nieuwenhuis started in center field on Friday with left-hander Travis Wood on the mound for the Cubs. Not the most favorable matchup.

The left-hand-hitting Nieuwenhuis has struggled against southpaws this season -- he was hitting .172 against lefties in 58 at-bats entering Friday's game, including 26 strikeouts. Coming into Friday's start, lefties were hitting just .115 against Wood.

But with Andres Torres still bothered by back spasms -- he's listed as day to day -- manager Terry Collins didn't have many other options.

"One of the things with [Nieuwenhuis] is that he can go through these stages," Collins said. "For some reason, all of a sudden, he doesn't necessarily change his swing, but he gets in this thing where he's not seeing the ball real good so he just misses it."

Collins has mixed and matched lineups this season in accordance with opposing pitchers, but he is down to two right-handed hitters with Torres unavailable and Jason Bay still recovering from a concussion.

"You've got to make some adjustments," Collins said of Nieuwenhuis. "Take right field out of it sometimes and think about letting the ball get deep and seeing the ball more.

"In order to hit, you've got to keep your eyes behind the ball, same thing with fielding. When that bat gets out there, you've just got to keep your head behind the ball if you can."

Nieuwenhuis' struggles might not be so blaring if the rest of the Mets' roster was having success against southpaws, but the team as a whole is hitting more than 20 points better against right-handers.

Jeff Samardzija and Ryan Dempster, both right-handers, are expected to start for the Cubs on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.