PHILADELPHIA -- Lineup construction has become a daily chore for manager Terry Collins, given the fluidity of his outfield situation. The Mets used their fourth different leadoff hitter in five games Wednesday, slotting Jordany Valdespin atop the lineup against the Phillies, where he went 3-for-5.
By comparison, 20 of Major League Baseball's 30 teams used dedicated leadoff men in all of their games entering Wednesday. Nine other teams distributed leadoff duties between two different hitters.
The Mets enjoyed no such luxury over their first nine games, using Collin Cowgill five times, Valdespin twice, Kirk Nieuwenhuis once and Mike Baxter once. With right-hander Kyle Kendrick pitching for the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, it was Valdespin who drew Wednesday's assignment.
"We said that when Jordany plays, he's going to lead off," Collins said. "So that's where he's going to hit tonight. Hopefully he can get on a couple times and create some runs."
Though Collins has stated in the past that his most important leadoff requirement is on-base ability, he cited Valdespin's power and speed as persuading factors. That is why the manager slotted Valdespin first over Baxter, who boasts a more consistent on-base percentage track record in the Majors.
"They're two different guys," Collins said. "Baxter gives us that steadiness. Jordany, because he's a different kind of player, can maybe ignite you early by hitting a double or hitting one over the fence in the first inning. He's got that kind of capability."
As for the rest of his lineup, Collins said he might consider sliding Daniel Murphy lower down the card if the second baseman stays hot. Murphy entered Wednesday with multiple hits in three consecutive games, prompting Collins to consider slotting him somewhere where RBI opportunities may be more plentiful.
But Murphy was back in the two hole Wednesday, and he is more likely to stay there if cleanup hitter Ike Davis busts out of his early-season slump.