PHILADELPHIA -- When outfielder Juan Lagares returns from the disabled list this weekend, he will provide the Mets with a jolt of youth and defensive ability.
He will also create a sticky situation for manager Terry Collins, who must figure out a way to juggle Lagares, Curtis Granderson, Chris Young and Eric Young Jr. in the same outfield. Collins plans to sit the group down this weekend in Denver to discuss the issue, telling all four outfielders that they will receive regular playing time -- and, by extension, that they will regularly sit on the bench.
"I think all of them deserve to be out there at some time," Collins said. "They all have a key part on our club, and I don't know how I'm going to rotate it just yet, but I think they all deserve an opportunity. I don't think there's one guy you can point your finger at and say, 'Hey, you're not playing.'"
Though Collins did not reveal exactly when Lagares will return, the center fielder is eligible to come off the DL Wednesday, and Collins indicated he could be back in the lineup as soon as Thursday's series opener against the Rockies. Lagares, who has been sidelined since April 15 with a strained right hamstring, shifted his rehab assignment to Triple-A Las Vegas earlier this week.
Collins called Denver an "ideal place for Juan to play," given Coors Field's spacious dimensions. It helps also that the Rockies will start two left-handed pitchers in the four-game series, giving the manager another reason to play Lagares over Granderson or Young Jr.
What Collins stressed, however, is that no outfielder will sit too often; he will even try to avoid benching anyone multiple days in a row. Given this weekend's pitching matchups, for example, it is conceivable that Lagares, Granderson, Young Jr. and Young will sit one game apiece in Denver.
The arrangement should also mean regular time off for $60-million outfielder Granderson, though everything is subject to change. A hot streak or two may be all it takes for Collins to abandon his plan of equal playing time.
"I wish I had an answer for you," Collins said, "but I don't right now about how it's going to work."