Do you remember when Citi Field opened the Mets vowed they they were going to build around pitching and defense? Then, they immediately signed Jason Bay, who played well defensively, but that wasn’t the point.
Enter Matt den Dekker, who doesn’t have the inside track at making the team as the center fielder despite being the their best defensive outfielder.
Terry Collins managed arguably one of the greatest defensive center fielders in history when he had Jim Edmonds. Collins said they compared favorably in their ability to chance down fly balls in the gap with their speed, “although nobody got a jump like Jim Edmonds … it seemed like he took two steps before the ball was hit.’’
That comes from knowing the hitters and the pitch, so maybe that part of it will come to den Dekker. However, and this is the rub, he’s not even close to Edmonds at the plate and it could cost him a spot on the roster.
Den Dekker made another spectacular catch Monday when he went against the wall in left-center to rob Detroit’s Austin Jackson of extra bases. It is one of several he’s made this spring, each one seemingly more scintillating than the previous.
Den Dekker told reporters later in Lakeland he was “just doing my job,’’ but for a team lacking in offense, that’s only part of what the Mets need from him.
“If you are going to be a platoon player, you got to be able to do something off the bench in the National League, and that’s not just play defense,’’ Collins told reporters.