Terry Collins proclaimed pregame Sunday that Kirk Nieuwenhuis is sliding to left field with the return of Andres Torres from the disabled list for the series in Houston. Well, after Nieuwenhuis robbed Jonathan Herrera of an extra-base hit in left-center in the fifth inning and then contributed a go-ahead RBI in the 10th, Collins slightly wavered.
New York Mets
Asked if he was dead set on Nieuwenhuis to left field, Collins replied: “Well, I’m going to talk to Andres, but right now I probably am. I mean, he’s been playing center all the time. And I know Kirk has also. But we’ve got to mix and match our outfield and do it with what I think may be the best lineup.”
Someone then asked Collins about Nieuwenhuis’ latest highlight-reel catch.
“They hit fly balls to left, too,” Collins dryly said. “He can make those catches out there, too.”
About the only thing Nieuwenhuis did not do well Sunday was western attire like his teammates. He had jeans, but was playfully scolded by Justin Turner, who said: “You’re from Colorado, and you’re going to be the worst cowboy!”
Nieuwenhuis grew up in Denver, and once rushed for 267 yards as a junior in the Class 2A state football title game. He went 3-for-6 on Sunday while batting leadoff to up his average to .316.
“A little bit overwhelming here,” Nieuwenhuis said about his return to his childhood home, “but not too bad.”
Asked how he made the diving catch, which prevented Chris Nelson from scoring, Nieuwenhuis said: “I don’t know. I just went after it and got lucky a little bit. It was just one of those balls in the gap. I wasn’t sure it was going to drop or not, because the ball keeps going here. You look to your left and your right and you have a lot of ground to cover, but you do the best you can and try to keep everything in front of you.”
Collins also has said Torres will return to the leadoff spot. And the manager said Ruben Tejada, who had a 10-hit series in Denver, should remain No. 2.
Where might Nieuwenhuis hit, especially with the Mets having lefty hitters Lucas Duda, Ike Davis and Josh Thole in the bottom half of the order?
“I don’t know yet,” Collins said. “I’m trying to let my heart slow down from this game first. I’ll worry about that tomorrow.”
Nieuwenhuis has never played in left field.
“I’m going to have to take some more reps during BP and stuff like that to get adjusted, but I’ll be fine,” Nieuwenhuis said.