ARLINGTON -- A day after rapping out 17 hits and 14 runs with a shorthanded lineup, the Mets battled the Rangers on Sunday with a more complete set of players.
Justin Turner, who sat out Saturday's game with a jammed right thumb, was back at third base, batting second. And Jason Bay, who rested Saturday with a stiff neck, returned to left field and the cleanup spot.
Though the Mets never anticipated Bay missing more than one game, there was some talk of Turner skipping Sunday's series finale and possibly even landing on the disabled list. Such conversation has since quieted.
- 131 wins
- 121 wins
"I don't think his thumb is as bad as I thought it was," manager Terry Collins said.
Turner entered Sunday's game in an 11-for-60 slump that has dropped his average more than 40 points, a slide that Collins has attributed largely to the infielder's nagging thumb issues.
Niese expected to make next start
ARLINGTON -- If there was any lingering doubt as to Jon Niese's health, the left-hander squelched it Sunday morning by jogging around the warning track amidst high-90s temperatures at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Though Niese will be reexamined Tuesday in Detroit after leaving Saturday's outing with a rapid heartbeat, the Mets fully expect him to make his next start.
"Nobody seems to be too concerned about it," manager Terry Collins said. "We've just got to have him looked at as a precaution."
Had the Mets considered the issue serious, they would have examined Niese more thoroughly this weekend. Instead, the team has permitted Niese to travel home to Defiance, Ohio, on Monday's off-day, before rejoining his teammates Tuesday in Detroit. Niese was originally examined Saturday by Rangers team doctors in Arlington. His next start comes Friday against the Yankees.
Chris Capuano also reported no issues this weekend after throwing his routine bullpen session, and remains in line to make his next start on Wednesday. Capuano left last Thursday's game after six innings with cramps in his right side.
Pelfrey adds cutter to his arsenal
ARLINGTON -- As a batter, Mike Pelfrey recently began noticing a trend throughout the league. He noted that many of the league's top left-handed pitchers were setting him up with cut fastballs inside, then catching him looking on four-seamers away.
"They looked like they were 100 feet outside," Pelfrey said, "and they were actually right down the middle."
After Randy Wolf fooled him using that method earlier this month in Milwaukee, Pelfrey approached teammate Carlos Beltran, picking the outfielder's brain on just how effective a good cut fastball can be. Very effective, Beltran replied. So Pelfrey next sought out pitching coach Dan Warthen to relay his plan.
"I've got to learn this cutter," Pelfrey told him.
Over the ensuing three weeks, Pelfrey has. Modeling his own cut fastball after that of teammate Jason Isringhausen, he began throwing the pitch to right-handed hitters earlier this month in Pittsburgh, and has since grown increasingly comfortable with it. In sum, he's thrown about a dozen cutters over his last three starts, using the pitch exclusively against right-handed batters.
In a wider scope, Pelfrey's adoption of the pitch represents just the latest manifestation of a baseball trend -- the cutter is officially in vogue. Earlier this season, Dillon Gee began throwing a cut fastball, joining a burgeoning legion of pitchers who rely on it.
For Pelfrey, the cutter provides a complement to his signature two-seam fastball, which -- when thrown right -- moves naturally in the opposite direction. The cutter has become the sixth true pitch in Pelfrey's arsenal, joining his two-seamer, four-seamer, slider, curveball and splitter.
"It's another weapon," He said. "I'll put it in their heads, hopefully get some outs with it, and it will be good."