CHICAGO -- Lacking an obvious leadoff hitter for at least the next week, Mets manager Terry Collins on Tuesday turned to Matt den Dekker for the second straight game. Though den Dekker finished just 1-for-5 batting atop New York's lineup in Monday's win over the Phillies, he made two highlight-reel defensive plays to earn additional playing time.
"He's going to play some games," Collins said. "I'm not sure how many."
Considering den Dekker -- who singled, stole second and scored in the first inning Tuesday -- posted a relatively low .326 on-base percentage at hitter-friendly Triple-A Las Vegas, his assignment to the leadoff spot has come somewhat as a surprise. A more obvious choice may have been outfielder Bobby Abreu, but Collins nixed that idea "because he drives runs in for us."
Collins also feels he must rest Abreu regularly, lest the 40-year-old lose his offensive potency.
"He's running a little low on fuel right now," Collins said. "He's done a great job, but I want to make sure that continues, and not run him out there to where he's so tired he doesn't help us off the bench."
So until Eric Young Jr. returns from the disabled list, possibly as soon as next week, the Mets' leadoff spot will remain a "day-to-day" situation. Outfielder Chris Young could see time atop the batting order vs. left-handed pitching, in addition to den Dekker and possibly shortstop Ruben Tejada against righties.
Eric Young took a small step forward Tuesday in his rehab from a strained right hamstring, running outdoors for the first time since the injury. He is not eligible to come off the disabled list until June 10.
Mets planning to recall Brown from Triple-A
CHICAGO -- Outfielder Andrew Brown will travel to Chicago on Wednesday in anticipation of the Mets officially recalling him from Triple-A Las Vegas the following evening, the team announced early Wednesday morning.
Brown, 29, was hitting .350 with 13 home runs in 35 games at Las Vegas. He made the big league team out of Spring Training, hitting a home run on Opening Day, but became a roster casualty later in April.
The Mets have been playing a man short on their bench since Sunday, when they called up left-hander Dana Eveland from Las Vegas to replenish their taxed bullpen. He and right-hander Buddy Carlyle are both candidates to come off the roster when the Mets activate Brown.
Murphy invited to speak on fatherhood at White House
CHICAGO -- Daniel Murphy and his family will travel on Monday to Washington, where the second baseman is an invited guest to speak at the White House.
White House representatives recently contacted Murphy to see if he would be interested in speaking at The White House Summit on Working Families, which aims to advance discussion about fathers' roles at home, including the challenges of balancing career and family responsibilities.
"My wife said I was [interested]," Murphy said, laughing.
Murphy endured public criticism earlier this season when he missed two games, including Opening Day, for the birth of his son. In Washington, he will speak on a panel including White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors Jason Furman.
"I don't really have a whole lot of experience in it," Murphy said of fatherhood. "I feel humbled to be asked about it. My wife has two months of experience. I've had the easy part.
"I think I'll keep my ears open more than I do my mouth."
Dice-K plans to focus on one start at a time
CHICAGO -- Though Daisuke Matsuzaka does not view his return to the rotation as a long-term assignment, it could evolve into that. The Mets have no firm idea of when Dillon Gee might return from the disabled list, and they will not recall rookie Rafael Montero from the Minors until he re-establishes his control and command.
That leaves Matsuzaka with the opportunity he craved in Spring Training: an uninterrupted run to show what he can do as a starting pitcher, beginning Wednesday against the Cubs.
"It's really hard to look too far ahead," Matsuzaka said through an interpreter. "I just really want to focus on each start and give it my all."
To do that, Matsuzaka said, he will need to mix up the way he attacks hitters, avoiding "showing them everything" the first or second time through the batting order.
Successful as a starter late last September, Matsuzaka enjoyed a strong spring, but lost the fifth-starter's job to Jenrry Mejia. He gave the Mets a quality outing in a spot start last weekend, but has not had a consistent run of starting pitching success since the midsummer months of 2010.
In New York, he has proven valuable mostly through his versatility. Starting is the latest manifestation of that.
"He's saved us in a lot of ways," manager Terry Collins said. "He's pitched in every role that we've asked him to pitch. He's pitched in the middle, he's saved a game, he's pitched in the eighth inning, he's set up, he's started. He has certainly been a real valuable guy on our staff."
• Shortstop Gavin Cecchini, the Mets' first-round Draft pick in 2012 and No. 8 overall prospect, was one of seven Class A Savannah players named to this year's South Atlantic League All-Star Game. The others were second baseman Jeff McNeil, and pitchers Dario Alvarez, Robert Coles, Miller Diaz, Kevin McGowan and Akeel Morris. In addition, Savannah manager Luis Rojas will manage the Southern Division team.
• The hip-hop group G-Unit will join 50 Cent at a June 14 postgame concert at Citi Field, the Mets announced Tuesday. Rappers Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo, Young Buck and Kidd Kidd will join 50 Cent, who is headlining the show.
"Since it's my hometown of Queens, I have a few surprises in store for the fans," 50 Cent said in a team release.