Collins salutes demoted Kirk Nieuwenhuis

DENVER -- Kirk Nieuwenhuis became the roster casualty when Juan Lagares was activated from the disabled list Thursday. Still, Terry Collins made sure to praise Nieuwenhuis’ contribution while with the big-league club.

Nieuwenhuis hit only .222 (4-for-18). Yet he drew a bases-loaded walk on April 23 for a walk-off win. And in his first big-league start of the season, he went 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs at Arizona.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis

Kirk Nieuwenhuis

#9 CF
New York Mets

2014 STATS

  • GM9
  • HR1

  • RBI5

  • R2

  • OBP.286

  • AVG.222

“He won two games for us, basically,” Collins said.

Collins said Nieuwenhuis has a significantly shorter swing now than in previous seasons, which makes him a viable bench player later this season and beyond for the Mets.

As for Lagares, who is returning from a pulled right hamstring, Collins said he will not play him every day early on, partly to guard against him becoming reinjured.

“I’m going to be careful of his legs,” Collins said. “I don’t want to create a bigger problem.”

Still, Lagares’ return coinciding with the Mets playing in a pair of spacious ballparks -- in Denver and then Miami -- is well-timed.

“In those two parks, you want to have absolutely the best center fielder you can put out there,” Collins said. “They’ve got to cover a lot of ground.”

While saying he would probably be thinking about his right leg initially in big-league games, Lagares said it has felt pretty good for a week now.

“I never hurt my hamstring before. I don’t know how I’m going to be,” Lagares said. “I just want to try to go out there and try to do what I do -- try to run.”