WASHINGTON -- Justin Turner's already shown his versatility by playing all four infield positions and even stepping in as the designated hitter once this season. But Turner got the start for the first time in left field Thursday night in the series finale with the Nationals.
Turner slotted in the leadoff spot, a move that comes mainly because manager Terry Collins said that Lucas Duda's still battling a tight quad that's bothered him recently. Collins said the Mets wanted to rest Duda so he could be ready for the weekend series against the Marlins at Citi Field.
Turner's played first, second, third and short and has worked out in left field, so Collins thought the timing was right to start him in this game. Plus, Turner's hitting .288 entering Thursday's game and could give the Mets' offense a lift. Collins also said if New York can grab a lead, he could pull Turner late for defensive purposes.
"He can catch them in practice," Collins said. "He catches them in batting practice, and he runs them down. Speed's a little different when the game time starts, so we'll see."
Collins also said that the area in left field is fairly confined at Nationals Park, something that could help Turner. He has played one inning in left field earlier this season, but this is his first start there. Turner said he just sees it as another way to get some playing time. He's appeared in 37 games with 80 at-bats and would like to add to those numbers.
"Obviously, I'd like to find my way into the lineup a little bit more than I have," Turner said. "Playing out in the outfield is just another option for [Collins]. So [I want to] go out there and prove that I can handle it and make him a little more comfortable with maybe using me there whenever he needs me."
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.