The Mets announced on Twitter Sunday evening that Mike Baxter will be activated before Monday’s game against the Giants and that Kirk Nieuwenhuis will be sent down to Buffalo to make room for him.
Baxter hurt his shoulder June 1 making the catch that saved Johan Santana’s no-hitter. He will return to Citi Field a conquering hero. Prior to the injury Baxter was one of the most effective pinch hitters in baseball, batting .444 with a .542 on-base percentage. He had six RBIs in 18 pinch at bats, with five of his eight hits doubles. Overall he had 11 doubles in just 65 at bats.
Nieuwenhuis started out red hot but he has cooled considerably — he is batting just .105 in the month of July. Overall he is hitting .252 with seven home runs and 28 RBIs. His defense in center field has been excellent.
I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, the league has obviously made the adjustment towards Nieuwenhuis, and he doesn’t appear to have the answer for it. Perhaps he needs to go down to Triple-A to work things out.
On the other hand, Nieuwenhuis could be a vital part of the Mets future and played so well early in the season that he seemed to earn his place. I just feel badly for the guy.
Also working against Nieuwenhuis is the fact that he and Baxter are both left handed. The Mets have far too many lefty batters on the roster.
Either way, Baxter certainly deserves to be back on the team. He sacrificed two months of his season for the team with his catch that has already entered Mets lore. I just wish there were another way to make room for him. Dumping Andres Torres or (dare I say) Jason Bay seems more justified than sending Nieuwenhuis down.