NEW YORK -- Pinch by pinch, Mike Baxter is earning his manager's respect. Baxter, who has just 59 career big league games on his resume, has logged the most pinch-hits (eight) of any Major Leaguer this season, and his .471 pinch-hitting average (8-for-17) is the fourth-best among his peers.
Baxter, 27, has had more than 800 at-bats at the Triple-A level, and manager Terry Collins said Wednesday that he has shown a big league maturity far beyond his experience level.
Collins said that the Mets pegged Baxter in Spring Training as someone who might be a good pinch-hitter.
"There wasn't a lot of movement to it. It was pretty quiet, pretty short," said Collins of Baxter's swing. "Certainly, being a first-year player, I'm shocked about the job he's done. And it all goes back to how well he's prepared for his job. It's one of the most difficult jobs in baseball, for a guy who's been here, who's done it and knows the pitchers in this league. To do it as a rookie is remarkable."
Wright, Collins on same page after dispute
NEW YORK -- The issue wasn't dead until they buried it.
Both David Wright and manager Terry Collins had to address their roles in a dugout dispute on Wednesday, and this time they appeared to be on the same page. Both Wright and Collins said they have moved on from Tuesday night's dispute, which occurred in an 8-0 loss to Milwaukee.
"Over and done with. It's been handled," said Wright. "There's absolutely no issue."
Wright had sounded the same conciliatory tone after Tuesday's game, but he still felt as if he had to take a stand for his teammates. The drama started in the seventh inning, when reliever D.J. Carrasco gave up a home run to Rickie Weeks and then plunked Ryan Braun with his next pitch.
Collins, who had already been planning on removing Wright from the game, decided that he wouldn't expose his third baseman to potential retaliation in a blowout loss. That spurred an argument in the dugout that was caught on camera, but Collins said Wednesday that it never got personal.
"He wasn't angry at me. He was angry at the situation," Collins said. "There was really nothing; we had to clear the air. And I'll tell you what, knowing him the way I do, I'm not surprised that he reacted the way he did. He knew it was his job to take it. He was willing to do that. I just didn't want him to get hurt."
Wright contacted Collins after Tuesday's game to make sure there were no hard feelings, but the manager elected not to share the details of their conversation. The important part, said Collins, is that the two understand each other's perspective and that they're on the same page going forward.
"Guys, I'm gonna tell you: I can put an end to this," he said. "I know exactly how he felt from the start of it and before we left the ballpark. What has happened with it -- as happens in New York City -- is this thing has been blown way out of proportion. I will tell you as I told you last night: Before that inning started, he was not getting another at-bat. I was taking him out of the game just to get him off his feet.
"When we hit the guy, then I knew that I was taking him out of the game. But because he's a professional, he knew it was his duty to go get hit if that was the case. But I just said, 'You have got to think about everything involved, and that's the rest of your teammates. I can't lose you.'"
Meanwhile, in the opposing clubhouse, manager Dusty Baker was apprised of the situation from Tuesday night's game. Baker, a former hitter himself, could appreciate it from all angles.
"That sounds like David Wright to me," he said. "That's the kind of cat you want."
Mets designate righty Carrasco for assignment
NEW YORK -- After Wednesday night's 6-3 loss to the Reds, the Mets designated reliever D.J. Carrasco for assignment, likely ending his tenure with the club.
The night after Carrasco was ejected for hitting Ryan Braun with a pitch, Mets manager Terry Collins wanted to give his right-handed veteran an opportunity to redeem himself by performing in crunch-time innings of a close game.
"I wanted to see Carrasco back in some action when the game was on the line," Collins said. "Part of my conversation with D.J. last night was to make sure we start getting him in some games. The three games he's been in were pretty much out of control."
Carrasco entered the eighth inning of Wednesday night's game with the Mets trailing, 4-3. The 35-year-old reliever responded by serving up a two-run home run to third baseman Todd Frazier. Carrasco said he wasn't pitching on Wednesday with the thought that his job was on the line.
"It's just, get out there, try to get ahead of the count and, you know, get an out," Carrasco said. "I just left a slider, too hittable of a pitch, and he drove it out of the yard. I don't know if that was the final decision or not, or if it's already been on their minds."
Carrasco was one of the first players signed by Mets general manager Sandy Alderson when he took over at the start of the 2011 season. In his tenure with the Mets, Carrasco was 1-3 with a 6.10 ERA in 45 games. He had just returned from an ankle injury earlier this month, and made his first appearance of the season on May 9. Carrasco said he felt like he was executing his pitches well in his rehab assignment, but he never settled in upon returning to the Major League level.
"I feel horrible about it," Carrasco said. "I wanted to justify the contract that [Alderson] gave me, eat up some innings here and have a good season and keep them in some games, and I didn't do any of that. It feels bad, but that's part of the game."
In a corresponding roster move, the Mets recalled left-handed reliever Robert Carson from Double-A Binghamton to fill Carrasco's roster spot.
Mets have pitching reinforcements on the way
NEW YORK -- The Mets may have some pitching reinforcements on the horizon, but they're not going to let themselves get too far ahead of the process. New York has Chris Young and Pedro Beato working back from injury and Jenrry Mejia stretching out as a starter in the Minor Leagues.
Manager Terry Collins said Wednesday that Beato has made good progress with his injured shoulder in extended spring camp, and Young has made two rehab starts in the Minors. Young could be back with the big league club in the next few weeks, but Collins doesn't know how that would affect his staff.
"What I'm trying to do is make sure that these guys get themselves enough innings and enough work so that when they get out there, they can be effective," he said. "Right now, I don't think I've necessarily done that with D.J. [Carrasco]. In the brief time he's been here, we've been in pretty much every single game until last night. I've gone with the guys that have been here and that have done the job."
The Mets have already lost Mike Pelfrey to a season-ending elbow injury, and swingman Miguel Batista has stepped into the rotation on a short-term basis. Young, in time, could be the solution.
Mejia, just 22 years old, was recently promoted to Double-A Binghamton after two efficient starts for Class A Port St. Lucie. Collins said that the Mets still aren't certain whether Mejia profiles best as a starter or as a reliever, but he thinks the youngster can improve from a greater workload.
"I think the whole thing is what's better for Jenrry long term," said Collins. "Obviously, the workload right now -- the fact that he goes out there and gets some innings pitched -- he's got a better chance to throw more breaking balls, to use his secondary pitches and get better command of them.
"I don't have a lot to say about [his future role]. I don't think that's my job. I've got enough problems here, but I think down the road you'll see Jenrry Mejia somehow get in that bullpen."
The Mets received the results of catcher Josh Thole's impact test, and the catcher has been cleared to begin non-baseball activities. Thole has missed more than a week with a concussion, but he has been symptom free since Friday.
Collins said that he has considered making Wright his team's official captain but ultimately elected to remain without one. Collins said he has never had a captain on one of his teams before, and that the designation could bring Wright more stress than it's worth.
"I work hard every day to make sure I communicate with each and every player," he said. "If they have things they want to complain about, they can come to me. They don't need to go to David."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. Ethan Asofsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.