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Nieuwenhuis is going to be sticking around for a while

The Sports Xchange
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When outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis came to the Mets as an injury replacement for Andres Torres, the Mets assumed he would go back down to Triple-A Buffalo after Torres returned from the disabled list.

But Torres returned earlier this week and Nieuwenhuis is still here. Part of that is due to the fact that left fielder Jason Bay is on the disabled list because of a left rib fracture.

But most of it is due to the fact that Nieuwenhuis has impressed the Mets with his offensive and defensive play.

After batting .325 with two home runs in 22 April games, Nieuwenhuis narrowly lost out on National League Rookie of the Month honors to D-backs pitcher Wade Miley.

Nieuwenhuis has supplemented that offensive production with some strong play in the outfield, including a diving catch to save a run last Sunday in Denver. The next day, Nieuwenhuis made his first professional appearance at any level in left field.

"This is the big leagues," manager Terry Collins said. "You've got to learn fast, you've got to adjust fast in the big leagues."

If Nieuwenhuis was disappointed at losing out on NL Rookie of the Month honors, he may have a chance to avenge the voting Friday, when Miley starts against the Mets at Citi Field.

But that will require Collins to play Nieuwenhuis against the left-hander, benching either Torres, Lucas Duda or Scott Hairston.

Either way, Nieuwenhuis has bullied his way into consistent playing time, at least for the immediate future.

"It's been a fun ride so far," Nieuwenhuis said. "It's been a blast just to be a part of this team."

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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