DENVER -- So desperate for pitching in a 18-9 loss to the Rockies on Sunday, Mets manager Terry Collins told outfielder Mike Baxter that he would be next in line to throw after Bobby Parnell. So when Parnell began scuffling in the eighth inning and Collins walked to the mound, Baxter began jogging in from left field.
"I touched dirt," he said, laughing.
That's when center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis caught Baxter's attention, signaling that left-hander Tim Byrdak had begun jogging in from the bullpen to take Parnell's place. Byrdak needed work, sparing Baxter a rare position-player appearance on the mound.
It was not the first time Baxter thought he might have to pitch in a big league game. A natural infielder who has not pitched since Little League, Baxter warmed in the bullpen once last summer in a similar situation but did not have to enter.
If he did, Baxter knows what would have happened.
"There's only one pitch coming," he said, laughing. "It's a straight ball. It's not fast."
Joking aside, Baxter is the team's clear choice as emergency pitcher. Though first baseman Ike Davis pitched with great success at Arizona State, the Mets would not be willing to use him on the mound and risk injury to one of their core players.
As for an emergency catcher, the answer is not so clear.
"That would have been a meeting of nine guys on the mound," Collins said, "and me saying, 'Which one of you ... can go back there and catch?'"
Johan set to make first start on normal rest
DENVER -- This was a normal week, not a shortened one. But it may have seemed short for Johan Santana, given that extra rest has become the new normal for him this April.
After making each of his first four starts on an extra day of rest, Santana will pitch on regular rest Sunday for the first time this season. That meant a condensed work week split between New York and Denver, with one less day between outings for Santana's surgically-repaired left shoulder to recover.
"Everything has been fine," Santana said. "No problems. I'm ready to get on the mound."
Coming off a season-high 105 pitches against the Marlins in New York, Santana will start Sunday at Coors Field for the first time in his career. He threw his routine between-starts bullpen Thursday at Citi Field with no problems.
"He knows what he's doing," manager Terry Collins said. "I'm not worried about Johan Santana. If he has issues, he would have come and told me, because that's just the way things have gone since January."
It has now been three good starts and one bad one for Santana in his comeback from left anterior shoulder capsule surgery, though the left-hander does not have any wins. That would be the case no matter how he pitched, considering the Mets have not scored a single run while he has been in games this season.
"They'll come," Santana said. "They're trying. We're working hard. It's just part of the game. It's been tough matchups that we're going against. Every time you have a matchup like that, it's all about one pitch or one run."
Davis staying in lineup as he looks to get on track
DENVER -- Don't read too much into Mets manager Terry Collins benching slumping Ike Davis for Friday's series opener in Denver. Davis was back in the lineup Saturday against the Rockies, and will remain there throughout the rest of this road trip -- despite the presence of three left-handed starting pitchers in four upcoming games.
"Ike Davis is going to play," Collins said. "We've got to get him going."
Collins echoed that sentiment to his coaching staff on Friday night and Saturday afternoon, saying how critical Davis is to the team. Outside of a four-game stretch earlier this month that saw him hit all three of his home runs, Davis is batting .080 on the season. He entered Saturday's play in a 2-for-26 funk with 10 strikeouts dating back to April 18.
Regardless, Davis will not skip Sunday's game against Rockies left-hander Jamie Moyer, nor next week's games versus Astros lefties J.A. Happ and Wandy Rodriguez.
"We've got to get this guy going, and not playing him is not helping," Collins said. "So we're getting him in there."
Chris Schwinden will receive another start Wednesday in Houston, manager Terry Collins confirmed. Though Schwinden allowed six runs over four-plus innings Friday in Denver, the Mets have no obvious alternatives with Chris Young not yet ready to join the team. Jeremy Hefner is ineligible because the Mets optioned him to Triple-A Buffalo less than 10 days ago.
Outfielder Andres Torres was 1-for-3 with a walk Saturday in his final rehabilitation game for Buffalo. Torres, who has been on the disabled list since April 6 with a strained left calf, will join the Mets in time for Monday's game in Houston.
A day after hitting for the 10th cycle in Mets history, Scott Hairston made a rare start in the outfield against a right-handed pitcher. "When you're swinging good, you try to get him in the lineup," manager Terry Collins said of Hairston, who typically only starts against lefties.