With Juan Lagares landing on the disabled list, Kirk Nieuwenhuis gets another chance in center field.PHOENIX --Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who officially joined the Mets on Tuesday in the roster spot vacated by injured Juan Lagares, resolved to shorten his long swing during the offseason in an attempt to reduce his strikeout totals.
Terry Collins and Nieuwenhuis believe the outfielder accomplished that mission.
A look at the position players with the fewest at-bats per strikeout in Mets history (min. 400 plate appearances).
Nieuwenhuis enters his season debut having struck out 130 times in 377 career major-league at-bats. His 2.9 at-bats per strikeout is the worst rate in Mets history among position players with at least 400 career plate appearances. Mo Vaughn ranked second as a Met with 3.4 at-bats per strikeout.
With the revised look, the 26-year-old Nieuwenhuis was hitting .310 with two homers and eight RBIs in 42 at-bats with Triple-A Las Vegas before the promotion.
"This offseason I put in a lot of work. I did a lot more video stuff, emailing back and forth with the coaches and stuff like that," Nieuwenhuis said about eliminating extraneous movements from his swing in order to have a quicker path to the ball. "I think that really helped. It's a lot shorter than it was. I'm trying to keep it short. Just watching some video from last year while I was at home in the offseason, there was just a lot of stuff that was going on. I just tried to eliminate that and iron it out."
As for whether he thought he would get a chance considering the volume of outfielders after the Mets signed Curtis Granderson and Chris Young during the winter, Nieuwenhuis said: "I've been doing it long enough to know you can't control that. You've just got to put your head down and work."
Said Collins: "I saw a different swing. He's worked very hard on his swing. It's a shorter swing."