NEW YORK -- The Mets value the offensive flexibility afforded to them by carrying an extra outfielder, and Wednesday against the Braves and right-hander Ervin Santana, manager Terry Collins took advantage of that flexibility. Left-handed hitters Bobby Abreu and Kirk Nieuwenhuis started in left and center field, respectively.
The reason was simple: matchups. Lefties hit Santana far better than righties do, while Abreu and Nieuwenhuis are more effective against righties than lefties.
"Santana has been really tough against us, really tough," Collins said. "We've got two lefties that have been swinging pretty good, so I've got them both in there. So it's helped us out to where you can get them some at-bats now and then to try to keep them sharp. It seems like every time we put Bobby in the lineup, he gets two hits."
This is just Nieuwenhuis' fourth start since the Mets recalled him from Triple-A Las Vegas on June 19, but he has made the most of his role as a pinch-hitter. He is 5-for-13 (.385) as a pinch-hitter, and all but one of those hits are doubles, making for a .692 slugging percentage.
Wednesday was the third time in less than three weeks that Nieuwenhuis found his name on the lineup card a game after doubling as a pinch-hitter. In the first two starts, he went 3-for-7 with five runs scored.
"It really helps to try and not do so much," Nieuwenhuis said of his success off the bench. "I think subconsciously a lot of times as a pinch-hitter, you're trying to do too much, your swing gets big, stuff like that. So you really have to concentrate on doing less."
Nieuwenhuis' presence in center also meant Juan Lagares took a seat for the second time in six days. Lagares has not found as much success in a dozen games since returning from the disabled list (.262/.262/.286) as he did before his intercostal strain (.295/.337/.429), but he does have three multihit games this month.
Collins isn't worried.
"Coming out of Spring Training when you're in great shape, you've had 70 at-bats in Spring Training, that helps you get started," Collins said. "Coming out of the injury, he hasn't even accumulated anywhere close to those at-bats  to get himself back. I've seen some good things. He hit the ball hard twice [Tuesday] night to right field."
Familia unavailable after warmup struggles
NEW YORK -- Before Jeurys Familia, the Mets' acting closer Tuesday, eventually closed the door on the Braves in the 8-3 win, he exhibited what manager Terry Collins called a "red flag."
Bullpen coach Ricky Bones reported to the manager that Familia had trouble getting loose before entering in the ninth, one day after Collins gave him a game off and two days after his velocity was down slightly against the Rangers.
The one-day reprieve wasn't enough for Familia's tired arm, and as a result he likely won't pitch Wednesday, either.
"They actually told me when he was warming up last night he didn't get ready very fast, which means there's still some stiffness in there," Collins said. "So we're going to be careful."
Familia won't need to be checked out by doctors, according to Collins, but the manager noted that his workload is worth monitoring.
Familia totaled 9 2/3 innings over eight games in March and April. Since then, he's tossed 36 1/3 frames over 35 games -- an average of more than 15 innings per month. There are no signs that Familia has consistently lost velocity off his fastball due to the increased usage, but this is the first season the 24-year-old is relieving full-time, and it could take some time to adjust to that sort of work schedule.
His 43 total appearances tie him for sixth-most in the Majors.
"Yeah, I have to be careful of that," Collins said. "It is a red flag for me. No doubt about it."
• The Mets optioned right-hander Gonzalez Germen to Las Vegas to make room for Dillon Gee, Wednesday's starter, on the 25-man roster. Germen has a 4.78 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 21 games (26 1/3 innings). His ERA his highest among Mets relievers, and only Jenrry Mejia has a higher WHIP.
• Despite carrying six outfielders and four infielders -- plus the versatile Eric Campbell -- the club has no clear plan to balance that out.
"There hasn't been any discussion about changing the roster at all," Collins said. "Right now, I'd say coming out of the [All-Star] break, we'll have the six outfielders."
Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.