Juan Lagares has seen his playing time fall lately despite a good start to the season offensively.
Juan Lagares has seen his playing time fall lately despite a good start to the season offensively.
Alex Brandon/AP

WASHINGTON -- New York Mets manager Terry Collins is tired of talking about Juan Lagares' playing time.

The center fielder was left out of the starting lineup four times in a stretch of five games last week, raising eyebrows because of Lagares' fine play this season. Collins, however, has four outfielders he wants to get regular at-bats, so someone is the odd man out each night.

Lagares was in a 5-for-27 slide at the plate when he returned to the starting lineup Saturday. He had a huge game against Washington with a home run, three RBIs and a leaping catch at the wall to rob Jayson Werth of a homer.

Asked before Sunday's game what Lagares needs to do to become an everyday player, Collins bristled.

"He has been an everyday player," Collins said. "He got into a little bit of a funk. It's not like I sat him for seven days. I sat him for two days, for cripes sake. We're getting a little carried away here. Somebody gets a day off and it's like the sky's falling in. It's not. He's the center fielder."

Lagares was back in the lineup Sunday and went 1 for 4 with an RBI single in New York's 6-3 loss to the Nationals. Chris Young began the game on the bench, while Lagares was flanked in the outfield by Eric Young Jr. and Curtis Granderson.

An outstanding defender, the 25-year-old Lagares is batting .302 with two homers and 15 RBIs in 30 games. He spent time on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.

"In my opinion, this is what the market is here. If I give Grandy a day off, he's 'benched.' If I give C.Y. a day off, he's 'benched.' If I give Juan a day off, he's 'benched.' That's not really the case. I know you've got to sell newspapers, so do what you've got to say," Collins told reporters.

"But when I come in here every day and figure out who has got to be in the lineup, somebody can't play. And today somebody is not going to play. I don't get too bent out of shape about it, because I know in the long run, after the next 120 games, they're all going to play," he said.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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