WASHINGTON -- Four times already this season, the call has come. Four times, Kirk Nieuwenhuis has boarded a plane, maybe waited out a layover somewhere, then joined the Mets' active roster.
The first three times, the Mets sent him right back down to Triple-A Las Vegas. This time, Nieuwenhuis hopes to stick.
"You try and keep it on as much of an even keel as possible," said Nieuwenhuis, who took Bobby Abreu's roster spot. "I think one thing that's really been more evident to me this year is that it kind of builds character. I think you can really take some good stuff out of it. You really learn that you can only control how you play. You learn that it's a business in baseball."
Shuttling back and forth between the Minors and the big leagues so often, Nieuwenhuis said, has taught him to be honest with himself. The Mets demoted him each time for a reason; some perhaps more political than others, but the fact is Nieuwenhuis posted just a .246 average and a .328 on-base percentage in his first three Major League stints. What he offered in power, he lacked in consistency.
The outfielder's latest trip to the big leagues involved a red-eye flight and one hour of sleep, all for the opportunity to sit on the bench for Tuesday's series opener in Washington. But Nieuwenhuis understands the drill. In addition to his four big league stints this season, he shuttled back and forth twice last season and once in 2012. As a result, he says he's "as used to it as he can be."
So Nieuwenhuis will ride the bench against lefties, start sporadically against right-handers and hope that what he brings to the table -- respectable power and defense -- will help keep him in the big leagues for good.
"It's going to be day to day right now," manager Terry Collins said, "but for sure, we're going to try to get him some more playing time."