NYM@PHI: Valdespin races home to score on passed ball

PHILADELPHIA -- Lineup construction has become a daily chore for manager Terry Collins, given the fluidity of his outfield situation. The Mets used their fourth different leadoff hitter in five games Wednesday, slotting Jordany Valdespin atop the lineup against the Phillies, where he went 3-for-5.

By comparison, 20 of Major League Baseball's 30 teams used dedicated leadoff men in all of their games entering Wednesday. Nine other teams distributed leadoff duties between two different hitters.

The Mets enjoyed no such luxury over their first nine games, using Collin Cowgill five times, Valdespin twice, Kirk Nieuwenhuis once and Mike Baxter once. With right-hander Kyle Kendrick pitching for the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, it was Valdespin who drew Wednesday's assignment.

"We said that when Jordany plays, he's going to lead off," Collins said. "So that's where he's going to hit tonight. Hopefully he can get on a couple times and create some runs."

Though Collins has stated in the past that his most important leadoff requirement is on-base ability, he cited Valdespin's power and speed as persuading factors. That is why the manager slotted Valdespin first over Baxter, who boasts a more consistent on-base percentage track record in the Majors.

"They're two different guys," Collins said. "Baxter gives us that steadiness. Jordany, because he's a different kind of player, can maybe ignite you early by hitting a double or hitting one over the fence in the first inning. He's got that kind of capability."

As for the rest of his lineup, Collins said he might consider sliding Daniel Murphy lower down the card if the second baseman stays hot. Murphy entered Wednesday with multiple hits in three consecutive games, prompting Collins to consider slotting him somewhere where RBI opportunities may be more plentiful.

But Murphy was back in the two hole Wednesday, and he is more likely to stay there if cleanup hitter Ike Davis busts out of his early-season slump.

Certain showmanship has Collins looking away

Terry Collins on injuries, managing in New York

PHILADELPHIA -- At some point, old-school Terry Collins simply gave up. Collins has never appreciated players staring at home runs or beating their chests after big hits, but he understands that such showmanship is unavoidable these days.

So when Jordany Valdespin clapped his hands and yelled animatedly after tripling with the Mets down six runs Tuesday evening, Collins simply turned the other way. Literally.

"Guys are doing all sorts of things today that years ago people didn't like, and today it's just part of the game," Collins said. "I tell our guys, 'If you don't like it, look away.'"

Chest-thumping is nothing new for the Mets, who learned to embrace former shortstop Jose Reyes' theatrics on the basepaths. Collins' only fear is that such antics often draw the ire of opposing players, eventually bringing retribution in the form of hit batsmen.

"Some guys get hit by doing it," Collins said. "Hopefully that doesn't happen much because you don't want any injuries caused, but that's been happening for a lot longer than I've been in the game."

Worth noting

• Catcher John Buck's 14 RBIs entering Wednesday are the second-most by any Mets player in franchise history over the first eight games of a season, trailing only Darryl Strawberry's 15 over the first eight games of 1987. Buck entered Wednesday's play leading the National League in RBIs, three behind Major League leader Chris Davis of the Orioles. He added another Wednesday with a homer in the second.

• Though Zack Wheeler struggled with his command Tuesday in his second start for Triple-A Las Vegas, allowing four runs (one earned) over 5 1/3 innings, two other Mets pitching prospects shined. Right-hander Rafael Montero struck out seven over six innings of one-run ball Tuesday for Double-A Binghamton, taking a no-decision in a 2-1 loss to Erie, while fellow right-hander Luis Mateo fanned nine over 6 2/3 shutout innings in his debut for Class A St. Lucie.