NEW YORK -- Still trying to find a long-term leadoff solution for his lineup, Mets manager Terry Collins on Thursday tried the one thing he has shied away from doing for the vast majority of his tenure in Flushing.
Collins slotted second baseman Daniel Murphy first in the lineup, shifting him up from his customary two-hole. What's more, with outfielders Juan Lagares and Eric Young Jr. both injured, Collins called this an experiment that could last.
"Why wouldn't you want your hottest hitter up there as many times as you can?" Collins said.
The logic is simple, even if Collins has avoided batting Murphy leadoff for most his first 3 1/2 years as manager. When the Mets were trying to identify their leadoff hitter this winter, general manager Sandy Alderson publicly criticized Murphy's on-base percentage, which has since increased from .319 in 2013 to .360 this year. Murphy's walk rate has spiked from 4.6 percent to 8.2 percent, and he has always been extremely aggressive -- for better and for worse -- on the basepaths.
Murphy is also white-hot at the plate overall, entering Thursday's play with a .305 average, including a .316 mark since May 3 and .389 since June 2.
Collins' main issue is that he has long considered Murphy an ideal No. 2 hitter, given the second baseman's left-handed swing and high contact rate. But with Young and Lagares injured, Collins had to find a leadoff solution.
Recently, he tried both Matt den Dekker and Ruben Tejada atop his lineups with mixed results. Young and Lagares also had their flaws there earlier this season. So if Murphy contributes, he could receive a long look at leadoff even after those two return from the disabled list.
"The idea is, you've got to try something," the manager said. "We've been trying each night to put together a lineup you think is going to score some runs."
Young, who is recovering from a strained right hamstring, went 1-for-4 in his first rehab appearance Thursday for Class A St. Lucie. Lagares is not as far along in his own rehab from a strained right intercostal muscle.
Granderson sits out to rest sore calf
NEW YORK -- Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson was out of Thursday's lineup with left calf soreness -- not the product of any specific play, he said, but a more general tightness that he could not shake out of the leg.
"I didn't feel anything negative: no pops, no snaps, no grabs, nothing like that," Granderson said. "More just an annoyance and a soreness right now, and obviously I've got to run at some point in time -- whether it be on the bases, out of the box or in the outfield -- so if it were something that I could get away with and know I wasn't going to have to do over the course of the game, I would be fine. Swinging and throwing, everything feels good."
The issue first started to bother Granderson prior to Wednesday's game against the Brewers, worsening during the night. Both he and manager Terry Collins said they would rather be "safe than sorry" with the injury; memories are fresh of the calf strain that former teammate Ike Davis suffered in Spring Training, knocking him out for most of the Grapefruit League season.
"We'll get some more treatment on it, and hopefully we continue to get better sooner than later," Granderson said.
With Granderson sidelined, Andrew Brown entered the lineup in left field, batting sixth. Bobby Abreu manned right field while Chris Young played center.
d'Arnaud to see 40-50 at-bats with Triple-A
NEW YORK -- Through three games at Triple-A Las Vegas, catcher Travis d'Arnaud is batting .600 with two home runs, a double and a 1.967 OPS -- video-game numbers so starkly removed from anything he did over his first 70 career games with the Mets.
Yet the team is not convinced -- at least not yet. Until d'Arnaud proves he can hit for average and power on a consistent basis, driving the ball to all fields, they will not promote him back to the Majors.
Even if d'Arnaud is hitting well, manager Terry Collins said, the Mets want to see him do it over an extended period of 40-50 at-bats before they recall him. Entering Thursday, d'Arnaud had 10.
"It's not going to happen in five or six days," Collins said. "I think he needs to be there a couple weeks. He needs to accumulate some at-bats."
Working against the Mets is the fact that their Triple-A park, like most stadiums in the Pacific Coast League, has a reputation for inflating offensive statistics. As such, the Mets' Vegas staff will need to keep a keen scouting eye on d'Arnaud, dissecting the process behind his approach as much as the results.
Still, the organization is thrilled that d'Arnaud has succeeded as quickly and thoroughly as he has, even in a tiny sample.
"It obviously shows you one thing: he's not pouting," Collins said. "He's got something to prove, and he went down there to prove it. And I love that."
Recker ejected after called strikeout in 11th
NEW YORK -- Among other oddities, Thursday night's Mets game against the Brewers included a three-minute rain delay and an ejection of typically cheerful catcher Anthony Recker.
Recker began jawing with Angel Hernandez after the home-plate umpire called him out on strikes with the bases loaded and two outs in the 11th. Quickly, Hernandez ejected Recker, who then began screaming at the umpire.
Manager Terry Collins emerged from the dugout to restore order, and the Mets replaced Recker in the lineup with Taylor Teagarden -- their last available bench player.