WASHINGTON -- Terry Collins offered no reservations about removing his sturdiest defensive outfielder on a double-switch when Jeurys Familia entered with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning on Thursday.
The pitcher’s slot was due up fourth the following half-inning, and Collins wanted to avoid Familia batting, knowing the reliever would continue pitching in the ninth. As it turned out, the Mets went 1-2-3 in the top half and Familia would not have batted anyway.
Asked if it was a tough call to double-switch out his best defensive outfielder, Collins replied: “You mean Juan? I thought the guy that went in did pretty good.”
Collins was referring to Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who moved from left field to center field once Lagares departed. Nieuwenhuis, celebrating his 27 th birthday on Thursday, ended up making a pair of late highlight-reel catches. That included a diving catch in left-center to end the 11th inning. Jose Lobaton's shot otherwise would have been a gapper that could have plated the winning run from first base.
The Mets ultimately lost, 5-3, in 13 innings anyway.
“Yeah, it’s tough to take him out,” Collins eventually conceded about Lagares. “But the reason we can is the other guy is real good. And we’re really lucky that he’s here right now, because as I said before, before Juan Lagares hopped on the scene, Kirk Nieuwenhuis was the go-to guy in center field. We had to get innings out of guys and try to come up with some offense somehow.”