TORONTO -- Needing immediate bullpen help after Friday's mound struggles, the Mets recalled right-hander Jeremy Hefner from Triple-A Buffalo in time for Saturday's game at Rogers Centre.
Hefner, who posted a 2.72 ERA in seven starts for Buffalo, will give the Mets a true long man out of their bullpen at least through the weekend. Because Hefner replaced a position player, infielder Jordany Valdespin, on the active roster, the Mets will need to make another move Monday to expand their bench back to five players.
"We just thought we needed another pitcher right now, so we're going to use him out of the bullpen," manager Terry Collins said. "Hopefully if we need some innings, he can save us."
Once the Mets leave Toronto, it may not necessarily be Hefner who goes back down to the Minors. With Manny Acosta pitching poorly of late and Robert Carson having only one Major League appearance under his belt, Collins admitted that "we'll have a decision to make" regarding his bullpen, which holds a 5.54 ERA in May.
It has not helped that Mets starters have struggled to pitch deep into games, with Jon Niese lasting just three innings in Friday's loss and position player Rob Johnson finishing the game on the mound. Given the designated hitter rule in Toronto, the Mets decided that they could afford to play Saturday and Sunday with a shortened bench -- one made even shorter by third baseman David Wright's lingering illness.
The resulting roster casualty was Valdespin, who had struggled to find playing time behind middle infielders Daniel Murphy, Ronny Cedeno and Justin Turner. Though Valdespin had played mostly center field during his early season stint at Buffalo, Collins indicated that he will start at second base upon his return to the Minors. Valdespin was 2-for-20 during two Major League stints this season.
Hefner had endeared himself to Collins last month, pitching three scoreless innings in an emergency relief appearance at Citi Field. The Mets claimed him off waivers from the Pirates this winter.
As expected, ill Wright on Mets' bench
TORONTO -- David Wright's voice was hoarse and gravelly Friday afternoon, and his condition only worsened overnight. Battling what the Mets are calling a bad head cold, Wright took his previously scheduled off-day Saturday, and the third baseman is in danger of missing Sunday's game as well.
"I'd stay an arm's-length distance," manager Terry Collins said Saturday morning. "He's sicker today than he was yesterday, and he wasn't very good yesterday."
Wright still managed to double in his first at-bat Friday and drive a ball to the warning track in his second plate appearance, finishing 1-for-3 to decrease his league-leading batting average to .409. Collins said he would consider using Wright as a pinch-hitter Saturday, but was hardly convinced that he would be able to play again this weekend.
With Wright on the bench, Justin Turner started at third base for the Mets. Wright leads the Majors with a .409 average and .510 on-base percentage, and also ranks third in the National League with 27 walks and fifth on the circuit with a .622 slugging percentage. He has reached base safely in 34 of his 36 games, playing most of them with a fractured right pinkie finger.
Wright joins a growing list of Mets players to suffer through illness this month, a group that includes outfielder Lucas Duda, catcher Mike Nickeas, first baseman Ike Davis and pitchers Jon Niese and Chris Schwinden.
Shortstop Ruben Tejada began testing his strained right quad with running drills Saturday in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and could play in rehab games as soon as early next week. That would put Tejada on track to return to the Mets sometime next weekend at Citi Field.
Outfielder Jason Bay hopes to begin taking full batting practice next week in Pittsburgh as he continues recovering from a fractured left rib. Bay, who has been hitting off a tee in Toronto, will confer with the team's medical staff via telephone before beginning the next step of his rehab.
Left-hander Robert Carson called his Major League debut Friday "an unbelievable feeling," after Carson worked around a walk to hold the Blue Jays scoreless in the seventh. Carson joined the team as a second lefty relief option after the Mets designated right-hander D.J. Carrasco for assignment earlier this week.