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Kirk Nieuwenhuis To Start In Center, Ruben Tejada To Bat Leadoff

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PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - MARCH 02:  Kirk Nieuwenhuis #72 of the New York Mets poses for photos during MLB photo day on March 2, 2012 in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - MARCH 02: Kirk Nieuwenhuis #72 of the New York Mets poses for photos during MLB photo day on March 2, 2012 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
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Kirk Nieuwenhuis will make his big league debut with the Mets on Saturday against the Braves, playing center field and probably batting eighth. He'll be taking the roster spot vacated by Andres Torres, who strained his left calf during Thursday's Opening Day win. Nieuwenhuis hit .298/.403/.505 in 53 games with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons last season before tearing the labrum in his left shoulder and spending the rest of the season in infirmity on the minor league disabled list.

Meanwhile, Ruben Tejada will bat leadoff for the Mets in Torres's absence, presumably because he's small and scrappy? I don't quite know what to expect from Tejada, who had an impressive .360 on-base percentage last year, drawing 36 walks and getting hit by six pitches. The walk rate is encouraging for a 21-year-old who's still adjusting to major league pitching; the hit batsmen continue a trend of above-average plunking propensity he established as a minor leaguer. He doesn't hit for any power, but he's a little guy and a young'un so that could certainly improve as he ages. At all events, a shortstop with good defense and good on-base skills making the league minimum salary can be a pretty useful player. As much as I instinctually want to scoff at this move, batting Tejada leadoff makes plenty of sense.