Kirk reassimilates with Mets, homers

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
1:43
AM ET
PHOENIX -- Kirk Nieuwenhuis was bypassed for a September call-up last season, which was an indication of just how poorly his year went.

Nieuwenhuis hit .189 with 32 strikeouts in 95 at-bats at the big-league level in 2013. He hit only .248 with 14 homers in 282 at-bats in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, too.

Still, Nieuwenhuis insisted Tuesday, he did not seethe over the snub.

“I’ve been up and down enough times,” Nieuwenhuis said after going 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs in his season debut with the Mets on Tuesday, in a 9-0 win against the Diamondbacks. “You can’t worry about that. You can’t think about that. I don’t like to play with a chip on my shoulder. That just doesn’t suit me. I don’t do that.

“I just went into the winter working hard. I think going through so many bad stretches last year just really got me thinking. I started watching a lot of video. Once I got a month or two off just to decompress, I was able to look at it with a fresh perspective and see some things I didn’t see before.”

Nieuwenhuis, 26, became the first Met to produce three hits, a homer and three RBIs in his season debut with the club since Carlos Beltran in his Mets debut in 2005.

Nieuwenhuis earned the promotion once Juan Lagares landed on the disabled list with a pulled right hamstring. Nieuwenhuis had at least one Lagares-type play in Tuesday’s win, lunging in right-center to take away a hit from Mark Trumbo in the fifth.

“Three years ago at this time, Kirk Nieuwenhuis was the talk of this organization, a guy that people thought was going to be an offensive center fielder who could run, play the game the right way, add some power,” Terry Collins said. “Some injuries have kept him down a little bit. Hopefully this is his chance to come up and produce.”

Nieuwenhuis tried to calm his swing during the winter, reducing the movement in order to be quicker with his bat to the baseball. He suggested he is more relaxed at the plate and overall, and cited his Nov. 16 wedding as a potential reason.

“My parents were saying it’s because I got married,” Nieuwenhuis said about his renewed confidence. “I think maybe a little bit of that. But I put a lot of work into my swing this offseason, just trying to be more relaxed. I think I play better that way, for sure. Playing uptight I don’t do well at all.

“I will say there was a lot wrong with my swing. Everybody goes through those stretches, but for me last year just wasn’t good at all. I maybe had a couple of weeks where I was feeling good, but that was about it.”
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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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.296 9 54 74
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 27
RBIL. Duda 81
RD. Murphy 74
OPSL. Duda .817
WB. Colon 13
ERAJ. Niese 3.55
SOZ. Wheeler 173