CINCINNATI -- Between the end of Wednesday's game and the start of Thursday's, Mets manager Terry Collins scrawled out four different variations of his starting lineup -- anything to shake up an offense that has averaged 2.25 runs in eight games since returning from a successful West Coast trip.
The result was unlike any lineup the Mets have employed this season. Jason Bay was back in the starting nine, playing left field and batting seventh. Justin Turner played second base and hit one spot ahead of Bay, while Scott Hairston made a rare start against a right-handed pitcher, and an even rarer appearance in center field.
"I just thought maybe some guys needed to take a break," Collins said, referencing regular second baseman Daniel Murphy in particular, "and get some other guys in there who maybe are refreshed."
Saying he wants "to see if we can get some energy back," Collins indicated that he plans to rest both David Wright and Ike Davis at some point this weekend in D.C., as well.
Thursday's lineup also featured the debut of catcher Kelly Shoppach and a move back to the leadoff spot for shortstop Ruben Tejada, who hit second a day earlier. But perhaps its most distinguishing feature was the presence of Bay, who had started just one of the team's previous seven games and appeared in only three of them, amassing six at-bats.
No longer a regular player for the Mets, Bay has not recorded an extra-base hit since July 18.
"He's not necessarily happy, and I don't blame him," Collins said. "I wouldn't be either. It's the frustrations of the whole process that he's angry about. He just hasn't hit, so he's been put in this situation, and he understands it, totally. All he's done is done everything he can to get out of it. He's hit early. He's hit in the cages extra. So I thought I'd get him in there tonight."