During the New York Mets 14-6 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday afternoon, rookie Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a career high three hits in four at-bats — out of the leadoff spot — with three runs scored, two doubles, a run batted in, and a stolen base. After which, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweeted:
Following the game, Nieuwenhuis down played his early season success:
It’s been a week and a half, two weeks. It’s pretty early. You’ve got to put it all in perspective, keep your head down.”
During his brief stint with the Mets, Nieuwenhuis has collected 12 hits in 36 at-bats, with six runs scored, two doubles, a home run and three runs batted in; good for a .357 average:
While I think it’s safe to say that Nieuwenhuis will NOT hit .357 over the course of the 2012 season, he has looked rather impressive over his first two weeks of action. He looks capable of playing centerfield in the majors and has not looked over matched at all over his 32 at-bats. I believe it was Ron Darling who said during the broadcast earlier in the week, he just looks like a baseball player. He also looks like ‘Sunshine’ from Remember the Titans, but that is neither here or there.
There is a lot of talk of what the Mets will do with Nieuwenhuis once Andres Torres returns amongst the NY beat writers (here, and here). Earlier in the week, manager Terry Collins told the New York Post that Torres will play centerfield when he returns:
I think [Torres] is still an important piece of this puzzle. [Nieuwenhuis] has played great, but Andres Torres, we got him for a reason. He can get in scoring position for us. We don’t have anybody who can steal bases for us. …I know [Nieuwenhuis] wants to be here. You talk to any young player, they’ll tell you, ‘I can learn by watching.’ Bull[spit] … you learn by playing. I watch a lot of golf — I stink — so I don’t think that for a second.”
However, I find it hard to believe if Nieuwenhuis is still playing well that he would be sent back to Buffalo. According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, “Collins wants to make sure is that Nieuwenhuis gets enough at-bats to justify being at the major league level.” Which, as Rubin mentions, could mean regular playing time in center, as well as cutting into Jason Bay‘s playing time.
Look, it’s way to early to start jumping the gun; especially given his extremely small sample size thus far. It is not as if Torres is returning tomorrow, or next week for that matter. And so, by the time the 34-year-old outfielder is ready to return, Captian Kirk (or Sunshine) will have a much larger body of work making the decision a bit easier to make. Because the bottom line here is, if he’s playing well, he’s not going anywhere.
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