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Monday, July 30, 2012

Mets Nightly News and Notes: Nieuwenhuis, Baxter, Wright, Bay, Hairston

Mets Nightly News and Notes:

The Mets demoted Kirk Nieuwenhuis to Triple-A Buffalo after Sunday's 5-1 win against the Diamondbacks to clear a roster spot for the return of Mike Baxter from the disabled list for the series opener in San Francisco. Baxter had been sidelined since suffering a separated shoulder on a June 1 catch that preserved Johan Santana's no-hit bid.

Nieuwenhuis, who had joined the Mets right after Andres Torres suffered a calf strain on Opening Day, was hitting .252 with seven homers and 28 RBIs in 282 at-bats. He had a team-high 98 strikeouts. Nieuwenhuis was only 9-for-his-last-73.

Although David Wright went 1-for-3 with an RBI double, two walks and two runs scored in Sunday's 5-1 win against the Diamondbacks, Terry Collins senses the third baseman needs a day off.

Wright had gone 1-for-12 through the first three games of the series. And he has started every Mets game since May 19.

The Jason Bay watch is at 0-for-22 after the left fielder went hitless in three at-bats Sunday while also walking. Bay's average has slipped to .159.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the hitless streak is two shy of matching Bay's career high -- a 24 at-bat stretch last season with the Mets. Bay's third-longest career streak also came as a Met last year, at 20 at-bats. He has had 18 at-bat hitless streaks three times -- in 2005, 2011 and this season.

Mets officials want to keep their 2012 edition as competitive as possible. So, barring an offer too good to refuse, it appears likely Scott Hairston will remain a Met beyond Tuesday's trade deadline.

There's no doubt Hairston is an attractive piece to a contender, though. He again came through Sunday, going 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs as the Mets beat the Diamondbacks, 5-1.

Hairston also is particularly attractive to other teams because he's making only $1.1 million before being eligible for free agency again this offseason.

"I try to, but it's kind of hard to ignore them," Hairston said about tuning out the trade rumblings. "I have friends that send me texts probably every day. Right now, once I get to the ballpark, I just focus in on doing my job that given day. I know a lot can happen in the next few days. But I'm a Met now. I'm happy to be a Met. And I'm enjoying my time here.

"It's always good to be wanted," he added. "That's definitely a plus. But, like I said, they're just rumors. There's a lot of players that are involved in those rumors. And I'm one of them. I've dealt with this in the past. I've got a job to do. I really try not to focus on what could happen. I just want to continue to help this team win.

Terry Collins was quoted by saying:

"Absolutely it would be tough to part with a guy like Scott Hairston. He's a big piece of this team, too. But I can understand why teams would bring his name up. ... He's the perfect piece. If you like your lineup and you're looking for that bat, he's exactly what a playoff team wants.

"We've got a couple of them. I'm surprised someone hasn't knocked the door down for
Justin Turner, to be honest. The guy can play anywhere in the infield. He's a great pinch hitter. Maybe teams have called. I don't know. I'll tell you, I'm really frustrated, because it's tough for me to get him in the lineup, because he can hit. He can hit. If he was playing, he'd be hitting .275 and he'd have five or six homers. But Ike [Davis] is starting to swing it. Dan [Murphy] is hitting it hard. And David [Wright] is David. And [Turner] understands it. But it's pretty frustrating, because he played great for us last year."

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