If you listen to Matt den Dekker, he just wanted to be ready when the New York Mets needed him. With starting center fielder Juan Lagares sent to the disabled list Monday, den Dekker got the call and he was indeed ready.
The man with probably the Twitter handle in baseball — @UpperDekker — made two memorable defensive plays to prevent runs from scoring in the Mets' 11-2 rout of the Philadelphia Phillies, including a stellar catch to rob Ryan Howard of a homer in the first inning. Then den Dekker knocked his first hit of the season, playing in just his fourth game of 2014 and his first as a starter. That's what you call being thrust into the game and making the most of it.
After the game, den Dekker told reporters, including Anthony DiComo of MLB.com:
"I'm just trying to stay ready," den Dekker said. "Nobody knew that Juan was going to go down. Things happen like that, so I just tried to get in there and have a good game and help the team out."
The home-run thievery was easily the most impressive moment Monday for den Dekker. He tracked the ball perfectly, timed his jump well and went up and brought Howard's homer back into the stadium. Since it was a first-inning play, it set the tempo early for the Mets.
Two innings later, den Dekker threw out at Reid Brignac at the plate to preserve his team's 1-0 win. It was a good throw, but truth is, Brignac didn't have any business trying to score.
But don't let that take away from den Dekker's day. It was one he'll always remember.
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