NEW YORK -- After three days mourning his grandmother's death in the Dominican Republic, Mets shortstop Jose Reyes reluctantly returned to the team in time for Thursday's game against the Pirates.
"I wanted to stay in the Dominican with my family," Reyes said. "But my dad told me, 'You need to go back. You have a job to do.'"
Leading off and playing shortstop Thursday afternoon, Reyes missed the minimum three games on Major League Baseball's bereavement list. He could have remained inactive for as many as seven.
"I'm here now," Reyes said. "I have to continue to play baseball and move on. But at the same time, I'm still going to remember her. I can't put her out of my mind that quick. I lost one of my family."
For the Mets, who scored a total of four runs in their last two games without their starting shortstop, Reyes' return to active duty was critical. Having Reyes allowed manager Terry Collins to slide Angel Pagan down to fifth in the lineup, providing some much-needed protection for middle-of-the-order sluggers Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay.
"He's a huge piece of this puzzle," Collins said before Thursday's game. "His energy out there today will make a huge difference, in my opinion. I know he's ready to play. I know he's had a tough few days, but this is what he loves to do and this is what he does best. We're really happy to have him back in there."
Reyes responded by going 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored in the win over the Pirates.
Frankie proves his pain threshold is high
NEW YORK -- How's this for a day: Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez arose early Wednesday morning to have two teeth pulled, woke up from his emergency surgery around noon, went home and napped until around 5 p.m., then reported to Citi Field and declared himself ready to pitch.
Two crowns fell off Rodriguez's teeth on Sunday evening, resulting in an infection. The closer went to the hospital on Monday, but with no dentists on Memorial Day duty, he received nothing more than medication.
He sought out help again the following day, but dentists were unable to pull Rodriguez's teeth without the aid of anesthesia. So the closer finally underwent surgery on Wednesday morning.
"It's a little swollen right now," Rodriguez said Thursday.
Though Rodriguez is taking non-drowsy pain medication and must ice his mouth every other hour, neither he nor the Mets expected the condition to affect his ability to pitch.
Rodriguez recorded the save in Thursday's victory over the Pirates, allowing one run in the Mets' 9-8 comeback win.
Collins' fire comes from burning desire to win
NEW YORK -- A night of fitful sleep gave Mets manager Terry Collins new perspective on Wednesday's loss to the Pirates, which became the catalyst for a seven-minute postgame rant.
"I know they can do this, and that's where that came from yesterday," Collins said of his outburst. "But let me tell you something: I am who I am. I think I've matured through the years of being able to control things a little better. But make no mistake about it: if we play ping-pong, I'm going to try to kick your butt. That competitiveness is still there. My desire to win, what I expect of my teams is still there. So that fire still burns inside."
Before addressing the media Wednesday night, Collins delivered a similar message to his team, imploring his players to execute better on the diamond. It was the latest -- and perhaps the most impassioned -- team meeting Collins has called this season, in a tactic the manager hopes not to overuse.
"We're not going to have them often, because that'll end up turning them off," Collins said. "They'll end up getting tired of hearing what you have to say. Last night, they better understand it came from the heart."
Buchholz's performance was injury clue
NEW YORK -- For Taylor Buchholz, it was a matter of performance.
Nothing snapped in Buchholz's right shoulder. Nothing popped or tore. But for weeks, Buchholz had been experiencing a steady decline in his velocity and the quality of his pitches, leading the Mets to believe that something was wrong -- and, ultimately, to place their right-handed reliever on the disabled list late Wednesday night.
"I have not seen the crispness of his stuff that I had in the past, leading up until he had the tendinitis," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We've tried to give him some days off. I haven't seen the crisp breaking ball that's obviously his bread-and-butter pitch. His velocity is down. And so it led me to believe there's got to be an issue."
Buchholz, who received a shot two weeks ago to quell the inflammation in his right shoulder, will rest indefinitely before rehabbing his arm.
"Let's just rest him," Collins said. "Maybe some time down will help him out."
O'Connor optioned out to Triple-A Buffalo
NEW YORK -- Emphasizing accountability throughout the first two months of this season, the Mets on Thursday shipped out yet another struggling reliever.
Following a victory over the Pirates, the team optioned left-hander Mike O'Connor to Triple-A Buffalo. Though the Mets have not yet made a corresponding move, indications are that they will promote right-hander Manny Acosta, who has struck out 18 batters over his last 10 2/3 innings at Buffalo.
Despite posting a 2.70 ERA in nine appearances with the Mets, O'Connor allowed a total of two runs, three hits and a walk over his last two outings without recording an out.
Already this season, the Mets have cut O'Connor, Blaine Boyer, D.J. Carrasco, Ryota Igarashi and Pat Misch due to varying degrees of poor performance.
Earning the victory in relief on Thursday, Jason Isringhausen recorded his first win in a Mets uniform since 1999. That marked the longest stretch between victories for a pitcher in franchise history. ... Mets manager Terry Collins replaced right fielder Carlos Beltran with Jason Pridie in the ninth inning Thursday, in a move he defined as purely strategic. "I put Pridie in there because I thought we would be strong defensively in right field," Collins said. Beltran said he had no problem with the switch.