NEW YORK -- Mets catcher Mike Nickeas had little time to celebrate his first career grand slam. After recording just his second hit in his last 27 at-bats with his eighth-inning home run on Saturday, he arrived at the ballpark on Sunday to find another daunting task -- R.A. Dickey's knuckleball.
"I don't envy any catcher that has to catch a knuckleballer, especially one that can be as good as R.A.'s is at times," manager Terry Collins said. "There's been balls that you just can't catch -- you're happy that it hits the glove and you knock it down. He threw a pitch the other day that the hitter told me the next day moved about two feet to the side. It went by Mike, he struck him out, and he had to go get it and throw him out. That's a tough job back there, and Mike's done a great job."
Nickeas, who has allowed a team-high three passed balls this season, said it's difficult to understand just how difficult it is to catch Dickey's specialty pitch until you're behind the plate. He said the movement on Dickey's knuckle ball in his last outing in Pittsburgh was the most he'd seen this season.
"Everybody knows and gives you leeway when one gets by you," Nickeas said. "They expect it because of the knuckleball, but still as a catcher you feel like you should at least stop every one. It is frustrating when they do get by."
Nickeas has been called on to catch Dickey's last three starts while starting catcher Josh Thole recovers from a concussion. Backup catcher Rob Johnson caught for Dickey when the two played together in Seattle, but the right-hander had yet to develop his knuckleball.
Cedeno remains out of lineup Sunday
NEW YORK -- Manager Terry Collins downplayed a right leg cramp that forced Ronny Cedeno from Saturday's game against the Padres, but it kept the shortstop out of the lineup again Sunday for the series finale at Citi Field.
Cedeno worked an eighth-inning walk in a 9-0 win Saturday, then left the game with the cramp as soon as he reached first base.
Collins said Cedeno still felt soreness a day later, but the decision to keep him out of the lineup was more precautionary. Justin Turner started in Cedeno's stead.
Baserunning not in plan for Tejada's rehab
NEW YORK -- Any hope that injured shortstop Ruben Tejada would play in a rehab game Monday in Port St. Lucie, Fla., is out the window after a baserunning session Friday did not go as well as the Mets hoped.
Tejada will continue to rehab his strained right quadriceps Monday by fielding ground balls and taking some swings, but manager Terry Collins said he will not run the bases.
Tejada hit .305 through 27 games before landing on the disabled list May 7, and there was once a hope he could rejoin the Mets as early as this weekend. Collins insisted the baserunning session was not a setback, though.
"It didn't heal as fast as I had hoped, but that's what every manager wants is a guy to get well fast," Collins said. "Any time you have a strained muscle, it may take three weeks. We were hoping we'd get him back faster, but it looks like it's going to have to run its course."
Thole, Young set for next steps in rehab
NEW YORK -- Catcher Josh Thole and starter Chris Young are moving on to the next step of their rehabilitation process.
Thole will play in his first live action on Monday since a concussion sidelined him on May 7. Manager Terry Collins said he didn't think Thole would play the entire game, although the coaching staff at the Mets affiliate in Port St. Lucie will determine the amount of innings he'll catch.
The Mets hope Chris Young can return to the Major Leagues and fill a spot in their rotation after an encouraging start on Friday in Port St. Lucie. Young pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on five hits and no walks. The next step for Young is to throw at a higher level in the Minor Leagues. Collins said he wasn't sure if Young would be headed to Double-A Binghamton or Triple-A Buffalo for his next start this week.
Steven Miller and Ethan Asofsky are associate reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.