NEW YORK -- The Mets had an opportunity Thursday to do something they did not do through all of last season: use the same starting lineup three games in a row.
Instead, manager Terry Collins chose to rest second baseman Daniel Murphy in favor of Justin Turner, who batted second. Collins' gamble paid off, as Turner went 3-for-4 with a stolen base in the Mets' 2-1 loss to the Padres.
Collins said the off day had nothing to do with the midsection injury that sidelined Murphy until the final week of Spring Training, and everything to do with giving the right-handed Turner some playing time against Padres lefty Eric Stults.
"We've got a whole weekend of right-handed pitching coming up," Collins said, referring to Marlins pitchers Alex Sanabia, Ricky Nolasco and Jose Fernandez, "so I thought today would be a good day to get Justin in there."
As Collins proved last year, the manager considers a fresh bench more important than a steady starting lineup. To that end, Collins plans to give reserves Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mike Baxter and Jordany Valdespin one start apiece this weekend, presumably resting each of his regular outfielders in those games.
As for Murphy, the Mets are not worried that this week's chilly April weather will affect his right intercostal muscle, which kept him sidelined for a month's worth of Grapefruit League games. Same goes for third baseman David Wright, who missed two weeks this spring with a strained left intercostal. Wright was back in the lineup for a third straight game Thursday, though Collins said he would look to give him a day off next week.
"You're talking about two guys that have an idea of what it means to miss time, and the one thing they don't want to do is miss time," Collins said. "So they're pretty honest about how they're feeling."