CHICAGO -- Jordany Valdespin starts in right field for the second straight day and the eight time in his major league career.
Terry Collins’ logic?
New York Mets
He needs some runs. So he is willing to hold his breath on the defensive end.
“We’re trying to score some runs,” Collins said. “We know if Valdy gets on, he has the ability to score, because he’s fast. He’s aggressive. I just wanted to give him another shot. Mike [Baxter] is scuffling a little bit. And against Edwin [Jackson], left-handers are hitting him hard (.333 BA/.435 OBP). So I wanted to get another left-handed bat in there.”
Collins said Valdespin, a natural infielder who first was exposed to the outfield in center field, works diligently pregame to try to get familiar with the position.
“He does take a lot of fly balls during batting practice,” Collins said. “If we have to, we’ll get him out of there [late in games] if we think it’s going to pose a problem. But we’ve got to get the lead. Right now, as we’ve said before, when you’re not scoring, you’ve got to get some offense in there. I hate to give up defense, but defense right now isn’t helping us much. We’ve got to find some way to score some runs.”
One thing is for certain: With Lucas Duda in left field and Valdespin in right field, center fielder Rick Ankiel or Juan Lagares has to take charge on fly balls. The St. Louis Cardinals opened the scoring Thursday when Pete Kozma sent a hanging fly ball to right-center and Ankiel didn’t take command. The ball dropped for an RBI double.
“To be honest, that’s one of the reasons Rick is here,” Collins said. “It allows us to platoon out there, with he and Juan, who are both very, very good defenders. Your right fielder now is a converted infielder. Your left fielder is a converted infielder. Yeah, you’ve got to be more aggressive. You’ve got to take more of those fly balls. Hopefully we put them in the right spots. [Coaches] Tim [Teufel] and Tommy Goodwin work very, very hard to try to figure out the best place to put those guys. You can’t cover all the ground, but in our particular case, our center fielder really has got to be aggressive.”