DENVER -- Juan Lagares doubled to lead off the game Friday for the second night in a row since returning from two weeks on the disabled list with a pulled right hamstring. It was his third double in his first five at-bats back with the Mets.
"I've been waiting for that for two weeks," Lagares said of his return Thursday night, when he went 2-for-4 in the leadoff spot. "It's great to go back. I feel good."
Friday marked just the fourth time this season the Mets have had a leadoff hitter in the lineup not named Eric Young Jr.
"We're still trying to teach him to be a Major League player, a real good Major League player -- the kind of player that he can become," manager Terry Collins said of Lagares' immediate success at the top of the order.
Collins has shown confidence using Lagares as the leadoff hitter, despite the added responsibility that comes with that role, and the manager said it can help the 25-year-old form good habits in his sophomore season. He brought a .327 (18-for-55) average into Friday's game, the only Mets batter to eclipse .300.
"You got to work really hard to be a leadoff hitter," Collins said. "You got to make the pitcher work, you got to see some pitches, you got to fight off some stuff so the rest of those guys in the middle of the lineup know what to expect when they get up there."
Young has had a slow start to his season, hitting .215 with a .321 on-base percentage at the top of the order, but he leads the team with 12 steals and 20 runs heading into play Friday.
"Right now I don't see anybody else that we have that fits that mold," Collins said of Lagares leading off. "He's going to have to do it right now."
Confidence at plate rising for d'Arnaud
DENVER -- The box scores don't tell the whole story for Travis d'Arnaud. On paper, he looks slightly improved at the plate since his freshman campaign of 2013, when he hit .202 with a homer and five RBIs in 31 games.
In just 22 games this season, he's improved to .211 (15-for-71) with two home runs and seven RBIs. And after starting the season hitless in his first five games, he's hitting .268 (15-for-56) over his last nine entering Friday.
But on the field and in the dugout, his teammates and his manager see something that doesn't get measured in baseball metrics.
"His approach leads to confidence," manager Terry Collins said. "He's using the field to hit, not trying to do anything special. The at-bats at home, I thought he used the middle of the field better. [Thursday] night I thought he took a good swing at a pitch that you've got to take a good swing at. When you see the replays, it's a ball you got to hit hard, and he hit it hard."
d'Arnaud's three-run homer to center in the top of the ninth inning brought the Mets back in the game after being shutout for seven innings and getting a lone run across in the eighth.
"I'm just waiting for a pitch I can handle," d'Arnaud said of his big fly. "Trusting the process. Trusting working with [hitting coach Dave Hudgens] every day. Just going out there and trying to put it on the field."
Collins attributes d'Arnaud's new-found confidence at the plate to his established confidence behind the plate.
"When he first got here last year, he wanted to prove that he was an outstanding defensive catcher," Collins said. "That was his goal. Now he's accomplished that and it's about trying to make his offense a part of his game. I still talk to scouts today that say, 'This guy's going to hit.' I keep putting his name in the lineup and try to build up that confidence."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.