Terry Collins is sending a message with his first lineup of the year. Kirk Nieuwenhuis will be at the top of the lineup when the Mets open their Grapefruit League slate Saturday against the Nationals.
“I think it sends a huge message to him. It’s the first game,” Collins said Wednesday after workouts at the team’s complex. “When we were playing really, really well, that guy was in center field. So, he deserves the right to get the first shot.”
With the Mets’ outfield one of the biggest question marks coming into spring training, the lefthanded-hitting Nieuwenhuis knows that getting the first crack at proving himself as a leadoff hitter is a big opportunity.
“Obviously it’s a compliment, for sure,” Nieuwenhuis said.
“I’m hopeful to take this spot and run with it.”
Nieuwenhuis started 69 games for the Mets last season and batted leadoff in 29 of them. He hit .264 with a .303 on-base percentage in that spot.
“You kind of set the tone for the game, and it’s a big responsibility,” Nieuwenhuis said.
“You just have to be aggressive and smart. That’s the biggest thing.”
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Kirk Nieuwenhuis to hit leadoff in NY Mets' spring training opener vs. Washington Nationals
New York Daily News | Feb 21