Why is Baxter getting late-season look?

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
4:51
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Mike Baxter is starting a third straight late-season game on Thursday night. So what gives?

After all, the playing time is coming at the expense of youngsters Matt den Dekker and Juan Lagares.

Den Dekker makes only his second start in the past nine games on Thursday. And that may only be because Lagares became a father early in the day and had not slept much.

"I just thought he's been swinging pretty good," Terry Collins said about Baxter. "It was about three games ago he put some good swings on the ball -- hit the ball hard. He doesn't have a lot to show for it, but he swung the bat very well."

As for not getting at-bats for den Dekker recently, the manager essentially said Andrew Brown and Baxter need to be evaluated, too. And that requires playing time.

"We're sitting here looking at where these guys are going to fit next year," Collins said. "Can they be bench players for us? Can they come off the bench and do what we expect? So we're just trying to get some guys in there to get some at-bats and see what they look like toward the end of the year."
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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