NEW YORK -- Throughout the past week, Mets manager Terry Collins has stressed the importance of finding playing time for former top prospect Fernando Martinez. Now he has an avenue.
Martinez will start at designated hitter Friday and Saturday in the Subway Series against the Yankees, with right fielder Carlos Beltran sliding into the DH role for Sunday's finale. Playing almost exclusively off the bench since the Mets recalled him from Triple-A Buffalo last week, Martinez will be making his first Subway Series appearance since 2009.
"I'm very excited," Martinez said, "because I want to play."
As far back as Spring Training, Collins had referred to Interleague Play as a midseason opportunity for Beltran to rest his chronically injured knees. But with Beltran playing almost every day in right field and showing no ill effects, Collins has instead chosen to use this weekend's games at Yankee Stadium as a way to insert Martinez's bat into the lineup.
Like Beltran, Martinez has endured chronic knee problems in recent years, leading Collins to be careful with his 22-year-old outfielder.
Once one of the top outfield prospects in all of baseball, Martinez has not played regularly in the big leagues since that 2009 season, when he hit .176 in 91 at-bats. He was 3-for-17 in five games against the Yankees.