Mets OF Juan Lagares traveled to the Dominican Republic late Sunday, while mourning the death of a family member, team officials told Adam Rubin (ESPN, May 19).
He is expected to be back with team in time for Tuesday’s game at Citi Field.
In case you missed it this past Friday, Terry Collins got a bit defensive with fans and media when questioned about Lagares’s playing time.
“He’s not been swinging good,” Collins said Friday, when asked why Lagares had been on the bench the previous three games. “We need his defense, but we have to score runs.”
Lagares had 12 hits in the 46 at bats (.286) prior to not starting before last week’s Subway Series. He was just 1-for-7 while playing off the bench. He returned to the starting lineup this past weekend and went 3-for-8 with a home run and four RBI.
“Maybe it’s just a coincidence that Lagares got three games away from the starting lineup immediately preceding reports of a death in his family. Or maybe Collins noticed that his young player was facing some pretty heavy stuff, and decided it’d be best for everyone if Lagares got a lighter load for a few days,” Ted Berg said Monday, in a post to For the Win (USA Today, May 20). “It’s unlikely we’ll ever really know, and it’s silly to speculate about the entire breadth of possibilities. But if a manager’s out to protect one of his players during a trying time in his personal life, it does not behoove him to say so. If Collins acknowledged that he sat Lagares to help him clear his head, he would have exposed Lagares to questioning and, most likely, criticism.”
Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
Ted makes a good point, as he usually does. I have no problem with Terry protecting his players. That’s fine. My recent and growing gripe with Collins has more to do with him being inconsistent and often contradictory with his lineup choices. If Ted’s first suggestion is accurate, and Collins felt Lagares was ‘facing some pretty heavy stuff,’ I would rather he tell me Lagares just needs a break, or ‘a blow,’ as they often say. But, when he tells reporters the Mets need offense and then sits one of his best hitters, that makes no sense. Similarly, Collins recently told reporters that shortstop Ruben Tejada is playing every day because he “looks like” the player he was a few years ago. Of course, Ruben has one hit in his last 14 at bats and is batting around .170 for the last month.
Collins is clearly getting frustrated with fans and media, which never plays well in New York. Collins doesn’t deserve to be fired. He’s a fine manager, especially for this team at this time. However, the better he frames and justifies his decisions, the better it will be for him and his players. The last thing he needs right now, at a time when the team is fighting to stay a float, is to let himself get cornered by reporters in to a fight with his team’s most passionate fans.