Collins confident Cuddyer will finish strong

Collins confident Cuddyer will finish strong

ST. LOUIS -- As the season winds back up after the All-Star break, the Mets hope that outfielder Michael Cuddyer regains his batting stroke to help with a second-half run.

Cuddyer, who has battled a bone bruise on his knee, struggled to a .244 average through New York's first 79 games. Though that is more than 30 points below his career average, manager Terry Collins still has faith in his ability to finish strong.

"Being around him for the first time, you can only go on the history, and the history [says] this guy is going to hit," Collins said. "The only way you are going to get him to hit is to keep running him out there."

Collins believes missed time due to the injury has hampered the 36-year-old Cuddyer, but Cuddyer isn't making excuses.

"You continue to grind through it, and you continue to play," Cuddyer said. "Like I've said time and time again, you continue to put your work in and your preparation in and that's all you can do."

Kirk Nieuwenhuis made a case for more playing time by hitting three home runs on Sunday, becoming the first player in franchise history to do so in a home game, and could work his way into a timeshare in the outfield.

"I've said it since Day 1, I want to win," Cuddyer said. "That's the issue to me. So whatever [Collins] feels like the best lineup is out there to help us win, that's what I'm on board for."

Collins wouldn't commit to a full platoon, but noted that Cuddyer will most likely be in the lineup on Saturday and Sunday. Cuddyer has a career .286 batting average against John Lackey, the starter for the Cardinals on Saturday, and St. Louis will start lefty Tim Cooney on Sunday.

"[Cuddyer is] going to be a big part," Collins said. "We look up at the next 70 games, and we've got to get him going."

Joe Harris is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.