PHILADELPHIA -- When outfielder Juan Lagares returns from the disabled list this weekend, he will provide the Mets with a jolt of youth and defensive ability.
He will also create a sticky situation for manager Terry Collins, who must figure out a way to juggle Lagares, Curtis Granderson, Chris Young and Eric Young Jr. in the same outfield. Collins plans to sit the group down this weekend in Denver to discuss the issue, telling all four outfielders that they will receive regular playing time -- and, by extension, that they will regularly sit on the bench.
"I think all of them deserve to be out there at some time," Collins said. "They all have a key part on our club, and I don't know how I'm going to rotate it just yet, but I think they all deserve an opportunity. I don't think there's one guy you can point your finger at and say, 'Hey, you're not playing.'"
Though Collins did not reveal exactly when Lagares will return, the center fielder is eligible to come off the DL Wednesday, and Collins indicated he could be back in the lineup as soon as Thursday's series opener against the Rockies. Lagares, who has been sidelined since April 15 with a strained right hamstring, shifted his rehab assignment to Triple-A Las Vegas earlier this week.
Collins called Denver an "ideal place for Juan to play," given Coors Field's spacious dimensions. It helps also that the Rockies will start two left-handed pitchers in the four-game series, giving the manager another reason to play Lagares over Granderson or Young Jr.
What Collins stressed, however, is that no outfielder will sit too often; he will even try to avoid benching anyone multiple days in a row. Given this weekend's pitching matchups, for example, it is conceivable that Lagares, Granderson, Young Jr. and Young will sit one game apiece in Denver.
The arrangement should also mean regular time off for $60-million outfielder Granderson, though everything is subject to change. A hot streak or two may be all it takes for Collins to abandon his plan of equal playing time.
"I wish I had an answer for you," Collins said, "but I don't right now about how it's going to work."
Grateful to Mets, Byrd mentors young players
PHILADELPHIA -- If not for the Mets, Marlon Byrd knows he may never have received another chance to play in the Majors. So in addition to being thankful to the organization, Byrd has paid the Mets back by mentoring some of their younger players.
Now a member of the Phillies, Byrd spent much of last season working on hitting with Lucas Duda, Josh Satin and other Mets players, going as far as to text Duda Tuesday morning with the Mets coming to Citizens Bank Park.
"He's one of those guys, I love his work ethic," Byrd said of Duda. "He wants to get better. He doesn't want to hit 15 home runs. He wants to hit 30. He knows he has that power. It doesn't matter what field he's playing on. He knows he can play the game."
The respect goes both ways.
"He's a hard worker," Duda said. "He essentially just told me ways to work, and just kind of refined my swing a little bit. He was a big help."
Byrd, who hit 21 homers in 117 games for the Mets last season, parlayed that success into a midsummer trade to Pittsburgh and a two-year, $16-million contract with the Phillies over the winter. Before that, Byrd had been mired in baseball purgatory, playing winter ball in Mexico while trying to overcome the stigma of a performance-enhancing drug suspension.
"They helped me renew my career," Byrd said of the Mets. "There weren't many teams that wanted to take a flyer on me. Why the Mets did? I don't know why, but I'm glad they did. I'm glad I could actually play well for them since they gave me that chance."
• A Mets farmhand won Pacific Coast League Player of the Week honors for the second straight week, with Triple-A Las Vegas infielder Eric Campbell earning the title for April 21-27. Campbell took the crown away from first baseman Allan Dykstra, who won for the week of April 14-20.
• Mets broadcaster Gary Cohen celebrated his 56th birthday on Tuesday.
• First baseman Lucas Duda filed a complaint with the New York Police Department regarding possessions missing from his home, according to the New York Daily News. The News reported that Duda returned home from a road trip to find items missing, after the Mets hired a moving company to transfer them to a new apartment. Duda declined comment on the situation.