- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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Terry Collins made some alterations to the Mets lineup on Friday, pushing second baseman Daniel Murphy into the 3-hole and moving David Wright to the cleanup spot. Struggling first baseman Ike Davis will hit seventh in the first game of this three-game series against the Phillies.
Murphy had hit second in each game he started, while Wright had batted third in every game this year. Davis, who is having issues at the plate, finds himself near the bottom of the order.
The lineup change is due to a suggestion from general manager Sandy Alderson. He mentioned to Collins how Wright produced great numbers hitting fifth in the World Baseball Classic, as Wright capitalized on runners getting on in front of him. Mike Baxter and Ruben Tejada will bat first and second.
"It was more about David," Collins said. "I took the one guy who has a .400 on-base in Mike Baxter and said if we can get him on, we got a guy at No. 2 who can handle the bat and hit behind runners and hit in the holes and bunt and do the little things. Dan Murphy’s hitting .350 and there might be some guys on ahead of David and I just thought that might give us an opportunity to score some runs."
Collins said Davis hitting seventh is a function of the lineup changes at the top, although the slugger's slow start isn't helping. Since the Mets are facing righty Kyle Kendrick, Collins wanted a lefty behind David Wright, and he put Lucas Duda there. He followed Duda with the NL's RBI leader, catcher John Buck, and that relegated Davis to seventh, where he's hit just once this season, on April 13 against the Twins.
After a slow start last year, Davis once again is having trouble out of the gate, as he's hitting just .174, with four home runs and seven walks. He did homer on Thursday, but he's struck out 11 times in his last 21 at-bats. Collins believes Davis is having better at-bats this year than he did early last season.
"Right now, he’s just trying to make sure he stays positive and that’s one of the things I’m trying to do: put him in a spot where he doesn’t feel that added pressure," Collins said. "I saw what he said about ‘I’m going to carry this team’ and I hope that happens. I hope it happens soon. But I’m just trying right now to let him relax a little bit."
As Davis struggled last year, the Mets considered sending him to the minors, but never pulled the trigger. Collins preached patience on Friday and said it would be a long time before the Mets even entertained a discussion about sending the first baseman to Triple-A.
"The minute you start giving up and the minute you start to panic, all 25 guys panic. The first time David's in a slump, are we going to talk about sending him down? I don't think so," Collins said. "And that's just what ends up happening, it sounds easy, but the one thing you don't want to do is start panicking in that clubhouse because you need those guys to stay positive."