Notes: Perez heads to DL
Mets recall Vargas to take lefty's turn in rotation on Tuesday
DENVER -- Three hours before the series opener against the Rockies, Oliver Perez thought it was still possible that he could make his next start on Tuesday.
If it were a playoff game, you couldn't keep Perez off the mound. But with an eye toward the season's second half, the Mets informed Perez that he was going on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 27 -- a day after his start against the Cardinals on Thursday, when he pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed two runs.
"It's better, because I don't want to get hurt and not be available for the second half," said Perez, who felt stiffness in his lower back following his last start. "I want to be healthy the whole second half. I want to pitch 100 percent."
Perez's stint on the DL will end the day after the All-Star break, meaning that he shouldn't miss more than two starts. He could potentially take the hill in his first game back after Major League Baseball's midseason pause.
"We want to take advantage of the days in the break and retroactive it a little bit, and make sure we nip this in the bud early," manager Willie Randolph said before Monday's game. "We don't think it's anything serious, but there's no reason to have one of our young pitchers pitch in a situation like that when it's not necessary."
Randolph acknowledged that in a more critical situation, he wouldn't hesitate to ask Perez to pitch, noting that pitching through discomfort is nothing unusual for a big-league pitcher.
"We could push him back and pitch him Friday or Sunday, but there's no reason to stretch it like that," Randolph stressed. "We feel pretty confident that when his time is up, he'll be ready to take the ball."
Left-hander Jason Vargas was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans to take Perez's spot in the rotation. The southpaw started one game for the Mets earlier in the year, picking up a no-decision against the Cubs on May 17.
At Triple-A, Vargas compiled a 6-4 record and a 4.35 ERA in 13 appearances, all starts. He struck out 56 and walked 23.
"As long as you have good depth, guys to step in, that's the key," Randolph said of the second callup in as many days to fill the shoes of a disabled starting pitcher. "If you have good quality depth to come in and pick you up, that's all part of the season."
Perez will leave the club on Tuesday, briefly returning to New York before heading down to the Mets Spring Training facility in Port St. Lucie, Fla., where he'll rehab before coming back on July 12, if all goes well.
"His arm is fine," Randolph said. "He'll be able to stretch his arm out in the nice weather. It's a matter of getting him down there and keeping him in rhythm."
Alou on the mend: Moises Alou got some encouraging news on Monday, and he's expected to head to Port St. Lucie to begin his rehab in a week. He went on the DL on May 17 with a strained left quad.
"Alou was seen by the doctor today in New York," assistant general manager John Ricco reported before Monday's game. "He's improving. The MRI looked good; it's getting better. He's going to stay in New York and continue working with a physical therapist, and doing all kinds of stretches and strengthening and rehabbing the injury for another week ... he's still a couple weeks away."
Two weeks is an optimistic minimum, considering Alou will definitely need a rehab assignment before returning to the club.
"When the time comes, he'll play for the St. Lucie club," Ricco said.
Midsummer school: When Carlos Beltran heads to San Francisco for the 78th annual All-Star Game on July 10, he's expecting more than just fun and games.
"You can learn a lot of things from the other players," Beltran said, noting that even though this is his fourth trip to the Midsummer Classic, it still feels like the first time.
"My first year [I was excited to see] Barry Bonds, because I just wanted to see what he does working in the cage -- see if you can learn anything from him," he said. "This year, I'll have the opportunity to be with him again. Probably I'll ask him if I can talk to him about hitting. Why not? What he does, what he thinks, what he looks for in situations. Those are the things you can learn when you got to the All-Star Game."
Beltran make a habit of setting up these "master classes," and last year, he took special care to pick Albert Pujols' brain.
"I want to have fun," Beltran admitted. "I want to enjoy every moment of it. But I want to try to take advantage of the opportunity. Last year, I went with Pujols to the cage. We worked together. He was telling me the drills that he does. At least I have an idea of what he does. Maybe you can add that to your game and make yourself better."
Coming up: Vargas will pitch in the middle game against the Rockies' No. 1 starter, Aaron Cook (4-5, 4.70 ERA) at 8:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday at Coors Field.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.