06/25/12 1:40 AM ET
With Francisco on DL, Mets trust Parnell to close
By Anthony DiComo and Ethan Asofsky / MLB.com
The Mets on Sunday placed Francisco on the disabled list with a left oblique strain and plan to proceed with Parnell in the ninth inning until Francisco is healthy. Francisco, who underwent an MRI exam on Sunday after first feeling the injury on Friday night against the Yankees, will not be eligible to return until July 8, the day before the All-Star break. To replace him on the roster, the Mets activated right-hander Ramon Ramirez from the DL.
Asked if he felt any better Sunday than he did on Saturday night, when he was unavailable out of the bullpen, Francisco replied, "Yeah. I can walk straight."
"Even if it's a big thing, there's nothing you can do about it," added the 32-year-old closer, who missed time in Spring Training with a knee injury and has been to the DL six times since 2009. "Just try to fix it and come back as soon as possible and do whatever you can do to keep fighting here."
For as long as Francisco is sidelined, the Mets will turn to Parnell -- an unpopular choice with the fan base but statistically the team's best reliever. Working mostly as a setup man, Parnell entered Sunday having struck out 30 batters in 30 innings, posting a 3.30 ERA, walking eight batters and generating ground balls more than 50 percent of the time. Among big league pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched, one strikeout per inning and no more than 2.40 walks per nine innings, Parnell has an ERA that ranks ninth behind names such as R.A. Dickey, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Greinke and Cole Hamels.
"He's been throwing very, very well," manager Terry Collins said. "I like [that] the velocity's starting to come up, still with good command of it. His breaking ball's still sharp. He's throwing it for strikes. I just like the fact that he can challenge hitters with that real good fastball and have some success with it."
But Parnell's reputation took a hit last year when the Mets gave him a shot at the closer's role. The right-hander subsequently blew three saves and lost his job in less than a month, prompting the club to recast him as a middle reliever this spring.
Now, the Mets will try him again at closer, even if that means thrusting other relievers into unfamiliar roles. Specifically, Miguel Batista should continue to see plenty of eighth-inning opportunities, while struggling relievers Ramirez and Jon Rauch may appear in key seventh-inning spots.
"You kind of like to know who the bridge is to get to this guy," Collins said. "When you lose that guy, now it disrupts all the little pieces that you had in place to get there. It puts guys in different roles and different situations, and it can really affect you. But we're going to have to deal with it."
Mets activate Tejada, demote Valdespin
NEW YORK -- The Mets activated shortstop Rubin Tejada from the 15-day disabled list on Sunday, optioning infielder Jordany Valdespin to Triple-A Buffalo to clear a spot on the 25-man roster.
Tejada started at shortstop and batted second in Sunday's series finale against the Yankees. He will get a chance to contribute immediately after being sidelined since May 6 with a right quad strain.
Manager Terry Collins and general manager Sandy Alderson talked at length after the Mets' 4-3 loss to the Yankees on Saturday and decided to place a call to Triple-A manager Wally Backman to check on Tejada's status.
"Wally said he thought he was ready," Collins said of Tejada. "He said he was running very, very well. He thought his at-bats were better. We know he's a big part of the lineup. We thought it was time for him to come up, get some at-bats and get back in form here."
Tejada went 4-for-21 in six rehab games with Buffalo and 1-for-9 at Class A Advanced St. Lucie. Tejada said he has been playing at 100 percent for only his past three games and feels like he has rebounded at the plate.
"I'm playing at full game speed; you have to stay 100 percent to be here," Tejada said. "I have to start again. For me, it's like the same as the first day after a month, month and a half [on the DL]. But I feel good."
Collins has liked tinkering with his lineup this season in search of better situational hitting against left- or right-handed pitching, but he said he intends to use Tejada in both situations. Playing left-handed-hitting regulars like Josh Thole, Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Omar Quintanilla, the Mets have struggled against left-handed pitching this season, specifically against teams with several lefty relievers. The team is hitting .249 against left-handed pitchers, as opposed to .258 against right-handers.
"He has got such an upside offensively that we don't have to pile all those left-handed bats in there where you really are susceptible to left-handed relief pitching," Collins said. "When we get back to playing in our division, the Braves have got two real good ones. Washington has got four now in the bullpen. Philly has got four in the bullpen. Having some right-handed bats in the lineup that can certainly do some damage against right- or left-handed pitching certainly makes you better."
In his past 10 games, Valdespin was hitting .300 with six RBIs. While Collins said the decision to send down Valdespin was tough, the manager needed to find at-bats for his other infielders, such as Tejada, Quintanilla, Murphy and Ronny Cedeno.
"Jordany has got to go play," Collins said. "I told him when I sent him out, 'You were very impressive here in your last 10 days -- now continue it. Go down there and build on it. Go down there, because in my opinion, your Minor League days are getting shorter and shorter.'"
Food poisoning keeps Ike sidelined
NEW YORK -- Chalking Saturday's bout of food poisoning up to some bad seafood, first baseman Ike Davis was available to play against the Yankees on Sunday but was out of the starting lineup for a second straight game.
Manager Terry Collins classified Davis as "75 percent" healthy, which was reason enough to keep him on the bench -- especially with tough Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia on the mound. Davis added that he felt somewhat weak but was more than able to contribute off the bench.
"I feel better now," Davis said on Sunday afternoon. "I haven't eaten anything, really, but as far as being able not to throw up is a good thing."
If nothing else, Davis gave the Mets a valuable pinch-hitting threat in Sunday's Subway Series finale. He has been one of the team's hottest hitters this month, batting .351 with three home runs and 15 RBIs over his last 12 games.
After Sunday's 6-5 loss to the Yankees, the Mets fortified their bullpen with a second left-hander, selecting the contract of Justin Hampson from Triple-A Buffalo and designating utility man Vinny Rottino for assignment. Hampson, 32, posted a 2.13 ERA in 28 games for the Bisons.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. Ethan Asofsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.