WASHINGTON -- The Mets are about to grow a bit healthier, with Jason Bay likely to return from the disabled list in time for Wednesday's game against the Nationals.
A day after missing a scheduled rehab game due to illness, Bay played nine innings in the field for Class A St. Lucie, finishing 0-for-3 with a walk. He should step back into the starting left fielder's job upon his return, with Kirk Nieuwenhuis subbing at all three outfield positions.
The Mets play six of their next eight games in American League parks, meaning there should be plenty of opportunity for outfielders Bay, Nieuwenhuis, Andres Torres and Lucas Duda all to log at-bats.
Bay has been on the disabled list since April 24 with a fractured left rib and, prior to Tuesday's game, manager Terry Collins seemed eager to have him back.
"If he's ready to go," Collins said, "we might as well get him up here."
Not as fortunate is shortstop Ruben Tejada, who cited tightness in his right quad in removing himself in top of the third inning of a rehab game Tuesday with Triple-A Buffalo. Tejada has been on the disabled list since May 7 with a strained quad, and has now suffered multiple setbacks in his recovery. Collins indicated that Tejada will probably abandon his rehab assignment, reporting back to Port St. Lucie, Fla. to continue receiving treatment.
Injuries have Mets short-handed in bullpen
WASHINGTON -- A struggling Mets bullpen is now suffering through multiple injuries, just as the team's rotation is shifting shape.
The Mets placed right-hander Ramon Ramirez on the disabled list Tuesday and received some troubling news regarding fellow reliever Jon Rauch, who stayed back in New York to meet with doctors. Rauch is dealing with debris in his right elbow, which will sideline him until Friday's series opener against the Yankees. In the interim, the Mets will play with a short-handed 'pen.
That will place more pressure on New York's starting pitchers to last deep into games. To that end, the team selected right-hander Chris Young from Triple-A Buffalo to start Tuesday's game, and activated Miguel Batista from the disabled list to back him up in the bullpen. Young, who underwent surgery last May to repair a torn capsule in his right shoulder, will be on a limit of approximately 90 pitches. Batista is fully healthy after straining his lower back May 19 in Toronto.
The Mets will proceed with a six-man rotation for this week only, hoping Young can reclaim some of the form that saw him post a 1.88 ERA in four starts prior to his injury last season.
"We're going to have to get some innings out of our starters, for sure," manager Terry Collins said. "Certainly, we're going to have to be careful about how we use some of the guys in our bullpen."
To make room for Batista, the Mets designated right-hander Jack Egbert for assignment.
The injuries to Ramirez and Rauch come at a time when the Mets' starters are thriving but their relievers are struggling. Ramirez, who strained his right hamstring while running from the bullpen Friday to celebrate Johan Santana's no-hitter, has whiffed 25 batters in 26 1/3 innings but posted a 6.75 ERA over his last seven outings. Rauch has struggled even more since reeling off 11 consecutive scoreless outings to open the season, posting an 8.53 ERA in 15 games since that time.
Largely as a result of that, the Mets entered Tuesday's play with a league-worst 5.45 bullpen ERA, more than a full run worse than the 29th-ranked Blue Jays.
"I've tried to say a couple times that when they're used correctly, they've been very effective," Collins said. "For the most part, I think if we get the matchups that are correct, we should be more effective and pitch better."
Johan slated to start Friday against Yankees
WASHINGTON -- When Johan Santana played catch on Sunday, Terry Collins watched. When Santana played catch the next day, Collins watched again.
The ace and his manager then huddled together Monday, having a lengthy discussion about the state of Santana's valuable left shoulder. When it was over, Collins came away satisfied that Santana is perfectly healthy after throwing a career-high 134 pitches during Friday's no-hitter.
"I told him I was fine," said Santana, who threw his routine between-starts bullpen session Tuesday without issue. "I know my body pretty well, so I know if something's not right, I'm going to let him know. I'm not going to try to do anything crazy. But everything went fine, and I should be fine for Friday."
That start will come at Yankee Stadium, where Santana will make his first appearance since throwing the first no-hitter in franchise history. Over the past four days, the left-hander has honored countless interview requests and received shout-outs from celebrities such as David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld and Jon Stewart. On Tuesday, he took a congratulatory call from New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
When he arrives back at Citi Field, Santana will sort through his memorabilia from the game, including the ball he used to strike out David Freese for the 27th out, his hat, his uniform and his glove. Santana plans to keep some of it for himself, then split the rest amongst the Mets, the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., and a baseball museum in his native Venezuela.
"Everything is special -- everything," Santana said. "I would love to keep everything, but ... we're trying to do the best that we can."
Niese deemed OK to pitch by doctors
WASHINGTON -- Doctors in New York examined Mets lefty Jon Niese on Monday, clearing him to pitch despite the accelerated heartbeat he experienced during Sunday's win over the Cardinals.
At some point in the future, Niese will undergo what the Mets called "a minimally invasive procedure to correct the condition," which Niese also experienced last summer without any lasting effects. In a press release, the Mets said that he will likely have surgery during the offseason, though Niese said that he is still considering having it over the All-Star break next month.
"I don't know what we're going to do yet," Niese said. "I'm not sure."
In the interim, Niese is free to pitch every five days as usual. The left-hander 4-2 with a 4.11 ERA over his first 11 starts.