Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
With Daniel Murphy on paternity leave, the nod was given to Eric Young, Jr. to set the table on opening day. 2013’s National League stolen base leader had seemed to be the most logical option considering the depth in the organization. The 28 year old played only his 50th game at second base (he would later be moved to left field where he’s played 144 games).
The top of the seventh required four pitchers, all looking to get the third out – where second base had more than one opportunity to keep Mets manager Terry Collins from ever leaving the dugout. With one out in the seventh, Bryce Harper struck a single past Young, scored as a single. Though the ball was stung, Young was right in front of it, the glove unable to get around on it, and an extra out was given to the Nationals.
Two batters later, with men on first and second, Ruben Tejada attempted to begin a 6-4-3 double play. Young would not turn what would’ve gotten the Mets out of the inning maintaining the two run lead, and bailing out Dillon Gee after seven gutty innings.
In the top of the 10th, Jayson Werth popped up a playable ball that fell between the fielders, putting the lead off man on for the second straight inning. Tejada began running back on a ball that was too far for him. Young failed to begin charging the ball until it was clear Tejada had gone out of position to field it. The ball fell between both of them, and the go-ahead run scored later that inning.
Young did manage to have a strong at bat in the bottom of the second, getting enough wood on the ball to send it into right for a sacrifice fly, putting the Mets back up by two.
However, his final line was 0 for 4 with four strikeouts. Collins tabbed Young to lead off with the expectation of him getting on base. Young failed to accomplish getting on once, rendering him incapable of using his legs, his most affective weapon as a player.
This won’t be the last time Collins turns to Young, Jr. for a start or as a defensive replacement. However, his skill at the dish is what it is – he’s a career .257 hitter.
Collins might be reluctant to stick Young, Jr. back at leadoff for game two – the blunders in the field may be just opening day jitters, or a clear representation of what his talent truly is. Young, Jr. is a solid speedster off the bench, useful for the occasional start and pinch running duties. Defensively, though, a cautious eye should be kept on Eric Young, Jr.