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Notes: Mets still searching for leadoff hitter

NEW YORK -- The New York Mets used eight different leadoff hitters in 2014. Manager Terry Collins still isn't sure which one he wants to take into 2015.

On this final weekend of the season, Matt den Dekker is getting a chance to show he can handle the role.

Matt den Dekker

Matt den Dekker

#6 LF
New York Mets

2014 STATS

  • GM52
  • HR0

  • RBI6

  • R22

  • OBP.341

  • AVG.241

"When we've talked before about possible leadoff guys, he's always been near the top of the list," Collins said Saturday, prior to the Mets' game against the Houston Astros. "We'll see what it's like [Saturday and Sunday]."

den Dekker has led off 10 times for the Mets this season, with a .370 on-base percentage in those games and eight runs scored. The Mets are 3-7 with him in the leadoff spot.

There's no guarantee, of course, that den Dekker will even be in the Mets' everyday lineup next season. Juan Lagares, who led off 37 times this year, and Curtis Granderson, who led off 52 times, are safer bets to be playing regularly. But Lagares has a low on-base percentage for a leadoff hitter (.321 this year), and Granderson has had a wildly inconsistent season at the plate.

Besides, Granderson's recent show of power has pushed him into the fifth spot in the Mets lineup.

The Mets signed Granderson with the idea he would be their cleanup hitter, but he has batted fourth in just 47 of his 148 starts. Besides leadoff and cleanup, Granderson has also batted sixth (19 times), second (16 times) and fifth (14 times).

The Mets' other leadoff hitters this season have been Eric Young Jr. (53 times), Ruben Tejada (four times), Chris Young (two times), Kirk Nieuwenhuis (once) and Daniel Murphy (once).

Nieuwenhuis hospitalized: After being scratched from the lineup Friday because he felt ill, Nieuwenhuis was hospitalized Saturday, fighting what doctors now believe is an infection. Collins said Nieuwenhuis may be kept in the hospital Saturday night, but should be released by Sunday.

Family affair: den Dekker was thrilled to get a chance to face Astros reliever Kevin Chapman, his first cousin, in Friday's game. The two grew up together in Florida, and both describe their relationship as more like brothers than cousins. The two work out together regularly in the winter, with Chapman throwing batting practice to den Dekker.

They faced each other twice in spring training in 2013 (a strikeout and a triple), but Friday's meeting was their first in a regular-season game.

Chapman walked den Dekker on five pitches.

Montero's role: The Mets never did get much of a look at Rafael Montero as a reliever, despite saying they wanted to do so. Montero is making his eighth big-league start Saturday, and Collins said the right-hander will likely go to spring training as a (probably longshot) candidate for the rotation.

"We'll see where he fits," Collins said. "If we get to the end and we need help in the bullpen, we can make an adjustment. We've got to look at where he can help the most."