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Highlight-reel catches nothing new for den Dekker


JUPITER, Fla. -- A clubhouse television caught the attention of several Mets early Tuesday morning, when Matt den Dekker's leaping catch from the previous night made the cut of SportsCenter's top 10 plays from around sports.

"I haven't done that in a while," den Dekker said after watching his highlight. "It's a pretty cool feeling when you take a home run away from somebody. I know it's Spring Training, but whenever you do that, it's fun."

Arriving in camp with a reputation for defensive prowess in center field, den Dekker leaped above the Tradition Field wall in the seventh inning to rob Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon of a homer. den Dekker sported a wide grin as he landed on the warning track.

"I know he can really play center field," manager Terry Collins said. "A tremendous catch. He's a legit defender, there's no doubt about it."

It was the third time that den Dekker's defense has landed him on SportsCenter. He first hit the national airwaves in 2010, when he made a sliding catch for the University of Florida during the College World Series, and again in 2011, when he made a diving grab for the Mets during Spring Training.

"I have speed, so I'm blessed with that," den Dekker said. "I've always felt comfortable in the outfield making catches. I've just got to work on my offensive game, get that where it needs to be. That's what I'm working on this spring."

The biggest knock on den Dekker is, indeed, his offense, which features plenty of power and plenty of strikeouts. den Dekker hit 17 homers in 135 games split between the top two levels of the Minors last season, but he whiffed in more than a quarter of his plate appearances.

He will need to improve that to make a serious run at the Opening Day roster. den Dekker, 25, is a fringe candidate to make the team, with Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Collin Cowgill expected to open the season in a center-field platoon.

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