WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York Mets manager Terry Collins is tired of talking about Juan Lagares’ playing time.
The center fielder was left out of the starting lineup four times in a stretch of five games last week, raising eyebrows because of Lagares’ fine play this season. Collins, however, has four outfielders he wants to get regular at-bats, so someone is the odd man out each night.
The hashtag #FreeLagares was even trending Friday on Twitter.
Lagares was in a 5-for-27 slide at the plate when he returned to the starting lineup Saturday. He had a huge game against Washington with a home run, three RBIs and a leaping catch at the wall to rob Jayson Werth of a homer.
Asked before Sunday’s game what Lagares needs to do to become an everyday player, Collins bristled.
“He has been an everyday player,” Collins said. “He got into a little bit of a funk. It’s not like I sat him for seven days. I sat him for two days, for cripes sake. We’re getting a little carried away here. Somebody gets a day off and it’s like the sky’s falling in. It’s not. He’s the center fielder.”
Lagares was back in the lineup Sunday and went 1 for 4 with an RBI single in New York’s 6-3 loss to the Nationals. Chris Young began the game on the bench, while Lagares was flanked in the outfield by Eric Young Jr. and Curtis Granderson.
“I know I can play,” Lagares said. “That’s what I do. That’s what I’m here for.”
An outstanding defender, the 25-year-old Lagares is batting .302 with two homers and 15 RBIs in 30 games. He spent time on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.
“In my opinion, this is what the market is here. If I give Grandy a day off, he’s `benched.’ If I give C.Y. a day off, he’s `benched.’ If I give Juan a day off, he’s `benched.’ That’s not really the case. I know you’ve got to sell newspapers, so do what you’ve got to say,” Collins told reporters.
“But when I come in here every day and figure out who has got to be in the lineup, somebody can’t play. And today somebody is not going to play. I don’t get too bent out of shape about it, because I know in the long run, after the next 120 games, they’re all going to play,” he said.
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