- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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Rod Barajas is headed to the bench at least for Thursday’s series opener at Dodger Stadium, with Jerry Manuel pledging a lineup shakeup that includes rookie Josh Thole starting at catcher and Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran joining Barajas in getting the game off.
Barajas went 1-for-5 in Wednesday’s 4-3, 14-inning loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. His average slipped to .226, although the catcher did produce his first homer since May 31 off San Diego’s Kevin Correia.
New York Mets
Barajas’ sixth-inning homer off right-hander Dan Haren pulled the Mets even at 3.
Barajas is hitting .156 (14-for-90) over his past 25 games. Entering June, Barajas had been hitting .269 with 11 homers in 145 at-bats.
Manuel has alternated between two concepts as Barajas has slumped. On the one hand, the manager has suggested, Barajas ought to get the bulk of the playing time to have the best opportunity to break out. On the other hand, Manuel has noted, Thole merits more playing time. The rookie is hitting .480 in 25 at-bats.
At least on Thursday against the Dodgers, the pendulum has shifted back toward Thole getting action, Manuel pledged.
Asked if the wear and tear of catching has decimated what had been solid offensive production through two months of the season, Barajas said: “I enjoy playing. I enjoy playing every day. I don’t like using that as an excuse because I want to be out there. If I want to be out there, I need to perform. It can be an issue, but it’s an issue I’m going to try to deal with if I have the chance.”
As for his power disparity -- 11 homers through May, none since until Wednesday -- Barajas added: “That’s just the kind of hitter I’ve always been. I’ve been a streaky hitter. I’ve tried over and over again in my career when I do have those slumps to try to keep them to a minimum, and it’s been tough. It’s been something that I haven’t been able to quite put my finger on and find the solution. I’ve had my good streaks and my bad streaks. So hopefully we can get back on the good.”