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Recent surge gives Lagares bat to match glove

Recent surge gives Lagares bat to match glove

NEW YORK -- The solid defense Juan Lagares gives the Mets in center field was never in doubt. His bat, though, wasn't as much of a threat. That's changed in the last week.

Over his last three games, Lagares is 7-for-10 (.700) with two doubles, one home run and five RBIs. He hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning of the Mets' 5-0 win over the Phillies on Sunday. After all of that strong production -- along with his stellar play in the field -- Lagares was named the National League Player of the Week on Monday.

Overall, Lagares is hitting .265 with 16 RBIs and 12 doubles in 55 games for New York.

"We know he's got all the skills. It's about pretty much making sure he gets at-bats and getting out there and playing," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We know he's strong. He's got all the skills. We're going to have some ups and downs and be a little patient with him."

But recently, there haven't been many downs with Lagares. He continues to make nice plays in center, including in a critical spot on Sunday.

With Delmon Young on second base and two outs in the seventh inning, Philadelphia center fielder John Mayberry hit a long line drive into left-center field. If it fell in, Young would have scored and Matt Harvey's day likely would have ended without finishing the seventh inning.

But Lagares covered plenty of ground in getting to the perfect spot to make the catch and end the inning.

Mets third baseman David Wright said Lagares isn't overly quick, but he takes a great first couple of steps to get to the right position to make a catch. Wright said it's as if Lagares knows exactly where the ball is going to end up as soon as it comes off the bat.

"It seems like he's always in the right position," Wright said. "He's gotten to a lot of balls where I thought there was no shot he was going to be able to do that."

As he continues to see more playing time and more at-bats, Lagares is becoming more of a well-rounded player. Collins said Lagares is learning how to make adjustments at the plate, and he works diligently during batting practice on hitting the ball the other way.

For now, though, Kirk Nieuwenhuis is getting the start in center field over Lagares against right-handed pitchers. At some point, Collins said, Lagares will start against righties more often, but the Mets have a good situation with two center fielders who can give the team quality at-bats.

"It's a nice situation to be in when you've got young players who you're trying to get in the lineup," Collins said. "When you've got a situation as we have in center field where you want to get both those guys some playing time, right now the best way to do it is see who might match up best against the pitcher."

Chris Iseman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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