As Mets turn corner, Kirk Nieuwenhuis packs bags for Anaheim

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, the odd man out in Mets' outfield, is looking for a fresh start with the Angels

The New York Mets drafted Kirk Nieuwenhuis in 2008. He spent his entire career with the Mets -- until Wednesday, that is, when they sold the outfielder to the Angels.

This could be the Mets' year. They might post a winning record for the first time since 2008, and they might qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

"They've got some good pitching," Nieuwenhuis said Thursday. "I think they'll be fine."

If the playoffs opened Thursday, the Mets would be in the wild-card game. They entered play trailing the Washington Nationals by 1 1/2 games in the National League East, and Nieuwenhuis would not be so bold as to predict his old mates would topple the mighty Nationals.

"The second wild card opens up a lot of doors," he said.

With Michael Cuddyer, Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson entrenched in the outfield, the Mets used Nieuwenhuis as a reserve. He was hitless in 13 at-bats as a pinch-hitter, with eight strikeouts.

"Pinch-hitting is tough," Nieuwenhuis said. "That's something you need in the National League, pinch-hitting off the bench. I wasn't able to get the job done this year."

The Mets designated him for assignment last week, letting him work out at Citi Field while his career remained in limbo. The Angels called him at 1 p.m. Wednesday, and he caught a 4:30 p.m. flight to California. He joined the team Thursday.

He has not played a game since May 18 and has not started since May 13, so the Angels wanted him to get at least one day of practice against live pitching before putting him in the lineup. He figures to start regularly against right-handers, against whom he had an .855 OPS last season.

The Angels also put outfielder Collin Cowgill (sprained wrist) on the disabled list, designated first baseman/designated hitter Marc Krauss (.143) for assignment and promoted outfielder Alfredo Marte from triple-A Salt Lake. Marte, a .174 hitter in parts of the last two seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks, was batting .343 at Salt Lake.

Twitter: @BillShaikin

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