7/19/2014 8:48 P.M. ET
d'Arnaud cementing his role in five-spot
By Anthony DiComo / MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- Not only is he finally establishing himself in the big leagues, catcher Travis d'Arnaud is beginning to do so in a specific offensive role. His recent success, including a go-ahead single in the ninth inning on Friday, has entrenched him in the fifth spot in the lineup, where he once again started on Saturday against the Padres.
"When he stops doing damage, we've got to find somebody else to put in that spot," manager Terry Collins said. "But right now he's been the guy, and we're very, very happy. We've played well with him hitting fifth. He's gotten big hits. It seems like almost every game he plays, he's come through in a big situation."
Batting d'Arnaud fifth, Collins said, has also given cleanup hitter Lucas Duda the type of protection he lacked for most of the early season. And that's precisely what the Mets envisioned when they traded for d'Arnaud two offseasons ago, believing they'd found a middle-of-the-order bat for years to come.
Though d'Arnaud does not boast elite power, he does possess the ability to hit the ball to all fields -- something he has showcased with regularity over the past few weeks. He is batting .318 with three home runs and a .357 on-base percentage in 17 games since returning from Triple-A Las Vegas, compared with .180 with three home runs and a .271 OBP in 39 games to start the season.
"This game is about today and tonight; tomorrow always brings something different," Collins said. "But he's swinging the bat very, very well. He's been driving in runs. He's been hitting some homers. Therefore, he protects."
Collins staying out of trade discussions
SAN DIEGO -- As trade rumors become increasingly prevalent over the second half of July, it is natural for everyone from general manager Sandy Alderson to the players in the clubhouse to begin thinking about them.
Manager Terry Collins refuses to join that club. He has no plans to lobby Alderson for specific upgrades, instead putting the club's entire Trade Deadline strategy in the GM's hands.
"Sandy's a pretty smart guy," Collins said. "He knows what we need. I don't get into those discussions too much. There was a time when I started managing in the big leagues where I would say, 'Boy, we need this or we need that,' and when we didn't get it, I would be disappointed. I learned real fast to quit worrying about it. Worry about what you've got."
What the Mets have is a roster with far fewer weaknesses than it had even one month ago. But they could still use an upgrade in the outfield, particularly if a long-term solution presents itself on the trade market.
"That's up to [Alderson]," Collins said. "I have learned through the years not to get involved in pieces we don't have."
• Right-hander Bartolo Colon, who battled a stomach ailment throughout Friday's start against the Padres, was "no worse" on Saturday but "still a little sluggish," according to Collins. Colon should be fully healthy in plenty of time for his next start.
• Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who has established himself as the closest thing the Mets have to an everyday left fielder, was back at the position again on Saturday, but Collins hinted that he might use someone else for Sunday's series finale.