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Nieuwenhuis battling for spot in the outfield

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- While little about the alignment of the Mets outfield seems settled, manager Terry Collins has told Curtis Granderson to make sure he takes fly balls in right field because of the peculiar angles of right field at Citi Field.

Collins also said Monday if the season began today Juan Lagares would be the center fielder.

"He earned that [last year]," the manager said.

Rarely mentioned in terms of the 2014 outfield is Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who begins camp with more vowels in his surname than injuries.The ratio has been reversed for much of the last two seasons. And with Lagares having semi-established himself last season, with incumbent Eric Young still the most gifted leadoff candidate, and with Granderson and Chris Young needed to reinforce the middle of the batting order, Nieuwenhuis appears to have a diminished chance of finding innings in the 2014 outfield.

He, Collins and general manmager Sandy Alderson declined Monday to acknowledge that Nieuwenhuis' window of Mets opportunity is closing. Indeed, Collins met with the left-handed 26-year-old to remind him that he remains in the club's awareness. Nieuwenhuis says good health will allow him to compete more than he has in either of the last two camps.

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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