Mets move Wright to cleanup for first time this season
NEW YORK -- Call him Captain Cleanup.
Manager Terry Collins hasn't been shy about experimenting with his lineup this season, but until Friday, he'd always kept David Wright as his No. 3 hitter. That tactic changed when Collins decided that the Mets would be best served by Wright hitting with more runners on base.
Wright had hit third in each of his 20 prior games this season, and he went into Friday night with a .300 batting average, a .438 on-base percentage and a .514 slugging mark. Now he'll hit fourth to maximize his production, and Collins said it was a joint decision with general manager Sandy Alderson.
"Sandy came in yesterday, and we talked a little bit about the lineup and how to reshape it," said Collins in the hours before his team's game against the Phillies. "And he brought up a great point. The numbers that David put up in the [World Baseball Classic] were unbelievable. The RBIs."
Wright hit fifth for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, and he did damage in the form of a .438 average and 10 RBIs in four games before an injury ended his tourney prematurely. Those numbers got Collins and Alderson thinking that they may get even more production out of Wright.
So the Mets took Daniel Murphy -- who's batting .351 from the No. 2 slot -- and dropped him one spot. Collins chose right fielder Mike Baxter to be the leadoff guy in Friday's lineup, and shortstop Ruben Tejada fit in as the No. 2 hitter. Two power hitters -- Lucas Duda and John Buck -- will help protect Wright, and the former cleanup hitter, Ike Davis, was dropped all the way to No. 7.
Nothing is permanent, said Collins, but it's an alignment that may have some sticking power.
"We took the one guy that's got a .400 on-base -- Mike Baxter -- and said, 'If we get him on, we've got a guy at No. 2 that can handle the bat and hit behind runners. Hit in the holes and bunt and do the little things.' " said Collins. "Dan Murphy's hitting .350. There's going to be some guys on ahead of David. I just thought that might give us a little more of an opportunity to score some more runs early."
Collins said that he believes that Davis is getting better swings of late and that the Mets have confidence in him despite his .174 batting average through the season's first 19 games. Davis can move back up when he heats back up, but first Collins wants him to get comfortable.
"I know nobody likes to use it around here, but you've got to have some patience," he said. "I looked at [Dodgers All-Star] Matt Kemp's numbers the other day; they weren't very good for Matt Kemp, [but] I'm still scared to death of him. You can be sure that the Philadelphia Phillies, when Ike Davis gets in the batter's box, they're worried. They know he can hit and he's going to get out of it."