SAN DIEGO -- When hitting coach Dave Hudgens met with center fielder Juan Lagares before Thursday's series opener against the San Diego Padres to address the rookie's hitting rut, Hudgens also delivered this message: Don't let any offensive funk affect your fielding.
It clearly did not in the Mets' 4-1 win against San Diego.
New York Mets
Lagares threw out a runner at the plate and also made a diving catch despite going 0-for-4. Lagares is hitless in his last 13 at-bats and hitting .210 (13-for-62) in August.
"I know he's really frustrated right now offensively," Terry Collins said. "Dave had a big session with him today earlier. But the one thing Dave brought up is: Hitting is hard, and you're going to have ups and owns. But you're so good defensively, don't ever let that get in the way.
"I think this kid understands that he's in that lineup every day, and we hope he hits, and we hope he hits a lot. And when he was hitting, he was doing a big service to us. But that catch he made in center field tonight, that's what we want him to do on a nightly basis. He may not have driven in any runs, but he saved two.
"I think he's -- what? -- second in the league in assists now. You're going to see it a lot, because he's got a great arm. He's accurate with it. He gets to balls. Defensively, he's the real deal. There's no doubt."
Catcher John Buck, who applied the tag on Tyson Ross on Lagares' fifth-inning strike to the plate, said he marvels at how well Lagares reads balls. Lagares charged in to field Yonder Alonso's single before firing to Buck.
"We talk about his jumps on the fly balls, that he takes away hits," Buck said. "But every play that's been thrown to me, it seems like he's closer to second base than anybody I've ever played with. His jumps on even the groundballs, knowing and anticipating them, that's pretty impressive. You look where he fielded that ball. He was pretty close to second base. And that ball was crushed. You get a jump that good, you have to be anticipating, your wheels have to be turning."