WASHINGTON -- Seeking to give Juan Lagares at least two consecutive games in center field, Mets manager Terry Collins offered the rookie a rare start Wednesday against a right-handed pitcher. Lagares should start again Thursday, with lefty Gio Gonzalez on the mound.
Whether he receives more opportunities going forward is entirely up to him.
"He needs to hit," Collins said of Lagares, who entered the game with a .146 average in 48 at-bats. "We're making enough outs, let alone just to give them away."
If nothing else, playing time in center field these days is certainly up for grabs. Though the Mets are curious to see what Lagares can provide on both sides of the ball, they are also wary of overexposing the rookie. That led them last month to acquire Rick Ankiel, who has struggled while starting regularly against right-handed pitchers.
With Kirk Nieuwenhuis recently catching fire at Triple-A Las Vegas, the Mets may soon jettison either Ankiel or Lagares to make room for him. So the next few days should be telling.
"I think both of them are good defenders," Collins said. "Because the ceiling's so high on Lagares, you hope that the playing time is going to get him to be a better player, where maybe even offensively he'll grow."