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den Dekker arrives, will play left field against righties

Collins plans to pencil him in No. 6 spot, says he could eventually lead off

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PHILADELPHIA -- A .343 batting average with Triple-A Las Vegas allowed Matt den Dekker to punch a 6:30 a.m. ET plane ticket to Philadelphia, where the Mets outfielder was available off the bench Saturday night.

"I wasn't really too sure anything would happen," den Dekker said. "Just try to keep playing well. Ready for whenever [Triple-A manager Wally Backman] told me that they were making the call to bring me up."

den Dekker, who will start in left field when the Mets face right-handed starters, was recalled to give the offense a shot in the arm, but is also a dynamic outfielder who should complement Juan Lagares in center.

"He's a great player; he's having a great year," den Dekker said of Lagares. "Came up playing with him, comfortable playing around each other in the outfield. It's going to be a lot of fun."

Curtis Granderson is no slouch in right field, either. And with the three natural center fielders patrolling the outfield grass, manager Terry Collins believes this trio can be as successful as last year's.

"The same thing that outfield did last year," Collins said. "When we had Marlon [Byrd] in right and [Eric Young Jr.] in left and Juan in center, we caught baseballs. And we got outs. We stayed away from big innings because we ran down balls. It makes a big difference. Huge difference. They're certainly three very, very good defenders.

"Our pitching staff, probably Zack [Wheeler] might be the only real strikeout guy amongst them. They know they should have confidence that if they keep it in the park, it's going to get caught."

As for how the batting order will unfold with den Dekker's arrival, Collins said that it is contingent upon his performance.

"It will be be dictated by how he does," Collins said. "But right now, he'll probably hit in the sixth spot. Especially when you face [the Phillies]. They have four left-handed relievers. I don't want to bunch all of those lefties up when Matt's in there to make it a lot easier for them. But he'll hit in the sixth spot and hopefully he just relaxes and shows us what he can do."

den Dekker is a possible leadoff option, but for now, Granderson will continue to serve as the table-setter. The Mets inked Granderson to a four-year, $60 million deal with the intention of him becoming their cleanup hitter, but on Saturday night, Granderson made his 38th start batting leadoff.

"I talked to him the other day about leading off and he's very comfortable doing it.," Collins said. "And I think what we've seen out of Curtis is some times when he's gone up and given us a pretty good at-bat where he sees six, seven pitches in the leadoff spot. I said before, this guy is third or fourth in the league in base on balls.

"Again, I like to get these young guys in the lineup. I think it's great for us to start to take a look at the future. But I want to make sure we do it at the right time. Same thing could be said with what we did with Lucas Duda. Instead of just slamming him in the four hole, we just let him work his way into the four hole. And if Matt den Dekker is a possible leadoff option in the past, let's just let him work his way into leading off."

Erik Bacharach 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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