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Thursday, May 1, 2014
Is E.Y. Jr. headed for fourth OF status?

By Adam Rubin

DENVER -- Will Eric Young Jr. ultimately become the fourth outfielder now that Juan Lagares is back from the disabled list?

Well, Terry Collins never had firmly said it would be a four-man rotation with equitable playing time among E.Y. Jr., Chris Young, Curtis Granderson and Lagares.

And the manager said Thursday that he ultimately would like for three starters to establish themselves.

“I don’t mind it for a while,” Collins said about juggling four outfielders. “I think in the long run you’ve got to have three guys you’re going to run out there.”

The bottom line: E.Y. Jr. clearly profiles as the fourth outfielder among that group.

While Collins has been very complimentary of E.Y. Jr., repeatedly noting he has been a spark when he gets on base, the manager also allowed that the ex-Rockie can be a perfect spark off the bench. He is not in the starting lineup Thursday, in Lagares' first game back off the disabled list.

“He would be a guy that you’d like to have to come off the bench because of versatility -- the fact he can play center, he can play left, he can play second,” Collins said. “The other thing he brings is that it’s always amazing how many times late in a game the pitcher comes up to lead off an inning. And he’s the ideal guy to go hit in that spot. He can switch-hit. And when he gets on, things happen. It’s nice to have those guys over there [on the bench].

“I had John Cangelosi [with the Astros in the mid-’90s], and I can’t begin to tell you how nice it was to look up in the eighth or ninth inning and have that kind of guy sitting on that bench that could come off the bench and create a run.”