New York Mets OF Alejandro De Aza hit a two-run home run in the third inning in Tuesday's 7-1 win over the New York Yankees at Citi Field.
Since starting the year with a .158 batting average through the first three months of the season, De Aza has a .343/.477/.486 batting line in 44 plate appearances across 22 games since July 2.
"It's not a good feeling," De Aza said of his early-season struggles. "I just kept myself in there, tried to keep my mind in the game. ... You put your mind to something that you really want to work on, and keep working, see the good side of it, and keep it up."
The Mets signed De Aza to a one-year, $5.75 million deal this past winter.
"He's really worked hard to try to get it going," manager Terry Collins said after Tuesday's win. "He was real frustrated with the way things have gone. He thought he was going to get more playing time and he hasn't, and I think knew that when he got in there, he had to start doing something. He's done a great job with it."
In late June, Collins had a sit-down with De Aza to tell him to keep fighting, keep working, that it's a long season and it does nobody any good to quit and let frustration dictate the story. De Aza clearly listened and kept hustling because he's been a totally different player since July. It comes at a good time because he's about to play an important role on this team.
In the absence of Juan Lagares and Justin Ruggiano, and with Yoenis Cespedes unable to play center field because of his quad, De Aza is the team's only true center fielder. Collins will shoe-horn Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson out there to get more pop in the lineup, but if he needs strong defense, De Aza will get the call. It only helps that he's getting hot at the right time.