NEW YORK -- Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen has been called, at the very least, a character. And on Saturday Mets skipper Terry Collins recalled some of the reasons why.
Collins managed three seasons of winter ball in Venezuela in the late '80's and early '90's, and Guillen was his shortstop for two of them.
"He is the same guy as he was then," Collins said. "Fun loving, played with tremendous enthusiasm and flair. Never stopped talking, he talked the entire time he played. Talked to the opponents, talked to his teammates, talked to the umpires. He was a riot to have around.
"He's like Jose [Reyes], that's why I'm sure he loves Jose. He loved playing, he loved to be out there. He did some wild stuff. He slid into second one time, they called him out so he picked up the bag and went into the clubhouse."
Wright approaching Mets' hit record
NEW YORK -- Entering Saturday, Mets third baseman David Wright was just four hits shy of tying Ed Kranepool's all-time franchise hits record of 1,418, and with six straight upcoming home games the Mets are hoping he'll have the opportunity to surpass the mark at Citi Field.
But more impressive than the number is the amount of time it took Wright to approach it. Saturday marked Wright's 1,252nd career game, and he is playing in his ninth Major League season. Kranepool, who played 18 seasons with the Mets, set the franchise record in 1,853 games.
"When you start breaking organizational records when you're in your eighth or ninth season and the guys who hold the record have played here for many more years, it tells you how good a player he is," manager Terry Collins said. "He's been very, very steady, out there every day and loves to play every day."
Wright's first half was far-and-away the best of this career, as he carried a .351 batting average into the All-Star break, and his average was higher than .400 as late as May 24.
But he's slowed down in the second half. Not that Wright's overall numbers aren't still impressive -- he was batting .307 with 82 RBIs entering Saturday -- but they took a big dip after he hit just .255 in July and .272 in August.
So what's been the difference?
Wright's downturn in production is almost a direct correlation between the team's first-half success and its slump thereafter, though the struggles aren't necessarily a product of the latter.
In fact, Collins said Saturday that it may be the opposite. As New York's season has gone downhill, Wright has put added pressure on himself to pick up the slack.
"He's taken a lot on his own shoulders," Collins said. "He knows how important he is to this club and is probably the one guy who said 'this is my team now.' So he's expanded the strike zone a bit. But that's what I love about him, he knows he's got to be 'Mr. Reliable,' and he wants to be that guy.
"He wants to be the guy who gets the big hit so that the players can rest assured that David Wright's going to watch their back for them and be the guy to rely on. That's what stars do in my opinion."
Including Saturday, the Mets have just 12 games remaining until the offseason, meaning just 12 games left on David Wright's current contract. Only three active players lead their current club's all-time hit list entering Saturday's games: The Yankees' Derek Jeter (3,291), Colorado's Todd Helton (2,420) and Texas' Michael Young (2,218).
Duda back in the lineup on Saturday
NEW YORK -- One day after Lucas Duda was pulled for failing to hustle down the line, manager Terry Collins opted to put him back in the starting lineup against the Marlins on Saturday.
Duda said he was frustrated after failing to make solid contact in his first-inning at-bat of Friday's series opener, jogging out of the box for what seemed like a routine pop to left. One problem -- the ball found the outfield grass in front of Marlins left fielder Justin Ruggiano, and Duda was limited to a single.
"I want him to know that he knows he made a mistake, and I know he made a mistake, but you've got to move past it," Collins said. "I wanted to get him in there today, [Marlins starter Mark Buehrle] is a guy he hits and Ike [Davis]'s had minimal success against him.
"I wanted to get him back in there and make sure he understands that the past is over, let's move forward."
Duda has three hits in six career at-bats against Buehrle.
Familia not likely to start until last series
NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins said Saturday that if Jeurys Familia will get a start this season, it will come against Miami in the final series early next month.
Collins has used September as a tryout for spots in next season's bullpen -- with the exception of closer Frank Francisco, no spots are guaranteed. Transitioning Minor League starters into relievers is part of that plan, and Familia, Jenrry Mejia and Collin McHugh -- all September callups -- are all in the running.
The problem has been finding available spots. Collins said the main priority is to get Major League experience, whether or not that comes in a relief role. As such, McHugh has made three starts and Mejia one, but the clock is ticking to get Familia on the mound.
"We've got a lot of arms in the bullpen, and a lot of arms we want to see," Collins said. "We're looking down the road at the big picture of what's going to happen next year, so the more we get to see Elvin Ramirez, Familia or Mejia, the better judgment we're going to have when it comes to decision making time next year."
Familia last pitched on Thursday, allowing five runs on three hits in the ninth inning of what would eventually be a 16-1 loss to the Phillies. After starter Jeremy Hefner failed to record an out, Collins saw it only as an opportunity to get callups experience, and as a result used nine relievers.
"Here's an opportunity to get a bunch of guys in here and see how they do," Collins said. Of the nine relievers used on Thursday, only one was on New York's Opening Day roster.
"Get them on the mound, let them face hitters because eventually I want to get Familia in a game when it's crunch time, not 9-1. I don't like to use that many pitchers, but there's nothing wrong in a game like that to make sure everybody gets enough work to stay ready."
Adam Rosenbloom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.