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Pregame notes: Baxter, Nieuwenhuis start

4/6/2013

Manager Terry Collins is giving outfielders Mike Baxter and Kirk Nieuwenhuis their first starts of the season on Saturday.

Baxter will lead off and play right field, while Nieuwenhuis will bat eighth and play center field.

That means Collin Cowgill, who hit a grand slam on Opening Day, will be on the bench for the second consecutive day -- Jordany Valdespin started in center field Friday night. But Collins isn't unhappy with Cowgill.

"It’s not something that Collin hasn’t done, it’s just that I’ve been trying to get these other guys in the lineup," Collins said. "The only way they’re gonna stay sharp is to get a game in here and there, and I thought this weekend with all the right-handed pitching that Miami has, this would be a chance to get them in there, and unfortunately a lot of the guys play center field."

• Catcher John Buck is in the starting lineup for the fifth consecutive time on Saturday, but backup Anthony Recker will get his first start of the season on Sunday.

"[Buck] got beat up a little bit last night -- a couple of foul tips ate him up pretty good. He could use a blow," Collins said. "Aaron Laffey [pitching] tomorrow, he knows himself very very well, he know what he has to do, and it’s a good chance for your backup catcher, no matter who it is, to get in there."

Buck has been the Mets' best hitter so far, hitting .412 (7-for-17) with two homers and five RBIs. Collins has moved him up to fifth in the lineup on Saturday.

Recker will be making his Mets debut on Sunday. The 29-year-old, claimed off waivers last October, has played in 27 major league games, with 66 at-bats, for the A's and Cubs in 2011 and 2012.

• First baseman Ike Davis is off to a 1-for-16 start. Collins said he may give Davis a day off on Tuesday in Philadelphia when the Mets face lefty Cliff Lee, but expects Davis to play every day until then.

"This time of year, one of the only ways to get out of it is to get him in there," Collins said. "If he’s searching for his stroke, he’s not gonna find it in the batting cage, he’s gonna find it in game situations, as we saw last year."

• Shortstop Ruben Tejada has made three errors in the team's first four games, including a critical one in the Marlins' five-run seventh inning on Friday night.

"I’m not concerned about his focus," Collins said. "We know he’s a better player than what’s going on defensively right now."

Tejada committed 12 errors in 112 games last season.