Lagares has wonderful game in center

June, 21, 2013
PHILADELPHIA -- When Carlos Ruiz hit a smash to deep center field with the bases loaded and two outs in a tie ballgame in the fifth, Jeremy Hefner initially was unsure whether Juan Lagares could run the shot down.

"I was holding my breath the whole time," Hefner said. "Juan is an unbelievable athlete. I watched him a little bit in spring training. I didn't get a good feel for what kind of athlete he is. To get to watch him pretty much every day, it's exciting, because he's a good player. The bat is coming around, and it's exciting."

Sure enough, Lagares did retreat and corral Ruiz's shot. The rookie then drove in the go-ahead run an inning later as the Mets beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.

"Right off the bat, I just tried to go hard," Lagares said about the Ruiz fly ball. "I go hard to every ball, but I knew that one was over my head. I just tried to go with everything I've got."

Said Terry Collins: "It changes a lot when you've got a center fielder who can go get it in center field. When Juan first got here, he played a little deeper than he is right now. I think he's getting more comfortable with playing here. He realizes, these guys, even though they're big and strong, there's going to be more balls that land in front of you instead of over your head. So he has moved in quite a bit.

"[Outfield coach] Tommy [Goodwin] has spent quite a bit of time with him to get him to understand that he can go get it over his head. And he's done a good job."
Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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