WASHINGTON -- The Mets' Matt den Dekker made his second Major League start on Saturday night against the Nationals, and this time, manager Terry Collins put him in the same outfield as Juan Lagares. Collins wanted to see den Dekker in center and Lagares in right, an alignment that gives the Mets speed across their outfield, with Eric Young Jr. in left.
"And we've got to look down the road, too," Collins said. "You've got to find out what Matt den Dekker can do. Is he gonna to be able to handle this level?"
den Dekker delivered his first Major League hit and RBI with a single to left field during a six-run third inning in the Mets' 11-3 win over the Nationals, while Lagares contributed his National League-leading 12th outfield assist by gunning down Bryce Harper at third base.
The Mets brought up den Dekker when they traded Marlon Byrd to the Pirates, and the 26-year-old debuted in center on Thursday, with Andrew Brown in right. He went 0-for-5 but stole a base and scored a run.
Collins liked the left-handed den Dekker's matchup against Nationals righty Dan Haren on Saturday, because the veteran doesn't have an overpowering arm. With den Dekker and Lagares starting, Brown was on the bench, despite his recent hot streak.
"I just want to get Matt in there enough so we have at least an idea of what direction we need to go in next year," Collins said.
Lagares, also a rookie, had made all 70 of his starts in center before Saturday and had played all of three innings in right. But he also spent considerable time at all three outfield spots in the Minors, and he will continue to play center when den Dekker isn't in the lineup.
"You just explain the situation," Collins said of moving Lagares.
"Matt's played two games in the corners, so I just don't think it's fair for Matt to play anyplace but where he's most comfortable when he's in the lineup."
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @HitTheCutoff. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.