Amidst the recent bullpen shakeup after the New York Mets respectable 4-5 start to the 2011 regular season, questions arise as to how fourth outfielder Scott Hairston will continue to fit himself into the Mets' future plans.
As Jason Bay continues to make strides in his return from a bad back, his arrival could prove detrimental to Hairston’s playing time in the Mets outfield.
Struggling to begin the season and a witness to non-roster invitee Willie Harris nabbing a majority of the left field playing time, Hairston is now part of a four-man bench while hitting just .071 with seven strikeouts in 14 official at-bats.
Posting those types of numbers would make anyone wonder why his spot on the roster couldn’t be given up to a minor leaguer ready to prove himself in the low-pressure opening weeks of the baseball season.
Guys like Nick Evans or Fernando Martinez could be better options off the Mets bench over the 30-year-old Hairston, but it’s still too early in the season to give up on him ever finding his power stroke.
It’s apparent he hasn’t lost his touch for the long ball as he went deep a few times in spring training, but until this point in the season, Hairston has failed to show the same power potential a player like Evans or Lucas Duda could bring to the Mets bench.
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Hairston obviously fits on the bench as the lone righty power option to foil the power we’ve seen in Daniel Murphy’s bat, but if that stroke doesn’t materialize from Hairston, Collins’ option to make a strategic decision will no longer be effective.
But, again, it’s just too early to throw in the towel on Hairston and judging his Mets career off just 14 at-bats would be thought as ludicrous by most fans.
To be honest, they gave Gary Matthews Jr. 58 at-bats to prove that he wasn’t worth the time and effort needed to bring him to New York, so Hairston still has plenty of time left in his Mets career.
As the team continues to grind their way through the month of April, Hairston will be given plenty of opportunities to prove his worth as a lifetime .734 OPS hitter in Collins’ fluid lineup card.
But once again, the inevitable question will be brought back up: How long will this Scott Hairston experiment last?