Mets use patchwork lineup due to injury
Reyes, Church sit while Beltran remains limited to DH
BOSTON -- Rarely is so much attention afforded to pregame batting practice. But when the Mets took over Fenway Park at around 5:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, manager Jerry Manuel's eyes darted back and forth across the field.
At shortstop, Jose Reyes was gobbling up ground balls, seeing how his injured right calf would respond. In center field, Carlos Beltran was shagging flies, trying to gauge the pain in his sore right knee. And in the batter's box, Ryan Church was taking his cuts, testing his sore right hamstring.
Beltran received a dose of bad news -- his knee was still cranky, so he decided to start a second consecutive game at designated hitter. And Reyes and Church already knew their fates -- neither was planning on starting Saturday evening's game against the Red Sox.
Instead, the Mets used a patchwork lineup yet again. Ramon Martinez, who committed two errors on Friday, was back at shortstop, Daniel Murphy at first base, Angel Pagan was in right field and Jeremy Reed manned center, with Beltran on the bench as the DH.
"He understands his body pretty well," Manuel said of Beltran. "When he gets an injury here or there, he knows how to manage it more than most of the guys. He's been through some things before, so he should handle that pretty well."
More worrisome is the injury to Reyes, which has had quite a few negative implications over the past few days. Inadequate both at the plate and in the field since his emergency promotion to the Majors last week, Martinez nonetheless remains Manuel's only option at shortstop. And so he will continue to start until Reyes heals.
"In Martinez's defense, he's only played eight or nine games," Manuel said, referring to Martinez's recent hernia surgery. "He missed most of Spring Training. I mean, Ramon is historically a good-hands, dependable player. We just don't happen to have him in the game shape, game speed that he needs to be in. And that's kind of unfortunate for him as well as us. It's a difficult thing. You can't be too critical of him, because he's not quite ready for that."
Reyes took grounders on Saturday and will attempt to run prior to Sunday's game, though it's unlikely he will return before Monday.
"I feel way better today," Reyes said.
Church, meanwhile, was in similar spirits. Feeling markedly better after receiving treatment during Friday's game, he didn't expect his sore right hamstring -- an injury that has quietly bothered him since Spring Training -- to keep him out past Saturday.
"I just want to play," Church said. "That's why I just kind of kept it quiet."
And so slowly, the Mets are healing. Reliever J.J. Putz was available on Saturday after missing Friday's game with a stiff neck, and the rest of the pitching staff -- sans Oliver Perez -- remains intact.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.