07/03/12 7:50 PM ET
Mets place Tejada back in leadoff spot
By Anthony DiComo and Adam Rosenbloom / MLB.com
So at the start of Spring Training, finding a replacement at the top of the Mets' lineup was one of the top priorities for manager Terry Collins. Andres Torres began the season as the team's regular leadoff hitter, but he went down just one game into the season with a left calf injury. He was replaced by Ruben Tejada -- a move Collins initially disliked -- who thrived in the role until landing on the disabled list on May 6 with a recurring right quadriceps strain.
Tejada rejoined the Mets on June 24, and he has been nothing short of sizzling since. In eight games -- all batting second in the order -- he was batting .353 (12-for-34) with six runs scored and three RBIs entering Tuesday, including a four-hit performance against the Dodgers on Friday, which matched a career high.
So on Tuesday, Tejada re-assumed his role as the Mets' leadoff hitter -- at least for one night -- for the team's series opener against the Phillies.
For Collins, Tejada's recent production -- and the fact that he hits right-handed -- were the incentives for the move. As a team, the Mets are batting just .244 against left-handed pitching, compared to .264 against righties.
"The Phillies have four left-handed relievers, and two left-handed starters coming up," Collins said.
Right-hander Vance Worley got the nod for Philadelphia on Tuesday, but southpaws Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are scheduled to take the mound on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
"We're trying to decide how we can mix this lineup up so we can protect ourselves a little bit," Collins said.
Collins has used a mix-and-match approach against lefties in 2012, but he has been admittedly desperate for production from right-handed hitters. Enter Tejada.
"It's about getting to the starter. That's ultimately what it is," Collins said. "If you can get the lead, you can ultimately dictate what goes on."
So Collins' expectations for Tejada out of the leadoff spot? Pretty simple.
"Get on. That's what I want him to do," he said. "We've got to get him on base."
Daniel Murphy, who has also heated up of late, batted second behind Tejada on Tuesday. Murphy had 10 RBIs over his last four starts entering Tuesday, including five against the Dodgers on Friday.
Bay targeting return right after All-Star break
NEW YORK -- Once entirely uncertain when he might be able to return from a concussion, outfielder Jason Bay is now targeting the stretch of schedule immediately following the All-Star break.
"Optimistically, it would be right after the All-Star break if everything goes swimmingly," Bay said Tuesday, after working out in front of Mets medical staff members. "But we haven't gotten this far down the road yet as to know exactly what that might entail."
Symptom-free for nearly two weeks, Bay simply must remain healthy as he continues to ramp up his rehab from a June 15 concussion. If all goes well this week at Citi Field, Bay will travel to Florida over the weekend to begin playing in rehab games for Class A St. Lucie.
And if he continues to progress without setbacks in Florida, that would put him in line for a return sometime after the July 10 All-Star Game.
"That's run by the medical department," manager Terry Collins said. "Certainly they're the ones who are on top of how bad the concussions can be. I know Jason's champing at the bit. Hopefully, by the end of the week, he's down in Florida starting to amp up for once the break's over."
How best to fit Bay back into the daily lineup will be Collins' challenge later this month. But with starting outfielders Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Andres Torres and Lucas Duda all struggling offensively to some extent, there should be plenty of at-bats available for a former 30-home run threat.
Though Bay has not come close to those sorts of power numbers in his first three injury-riddled seasons with the Mets, he has shown flashes of his old self when healthy this season.
"I haven't been out there very much, and that's been the frustrating part," Bay said. "I just really want to be a part of what we've got going on in here. I've been a fan for most of the season watching this, and that definitely makes it a lot more enticing to get back and try to be a part of it."
Citi Field to host Ecuador-Chile soccer match
NEW YORK -- The Mets announced Tuesday that the Ecuadorian national soccer team will return to Citi Field to play South American rival Chile on Aug. 15 at 8 p.m. ET.
The match features two teams with significant fan bases in the tri-state area. Queens County boasts the largest population of Ecuadorians of any county in the United States with more than 100,000 residents, while the tri-state region boasts the largest Chilean population of any area in the country with more than 20,000 residents.
The 11th-ranked team in the world, Chile leads the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) with a 4-2-0 record and is currently seeking qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Ecuador has a 3-2-0 record in CONMEBOL and a world ranking of 36.
Ecuador will return to Citi Field after battling Greece to a 1-1 draw last June before a near-sellout crowd of 39,656, in the first soccer match played at Citi. Tickets for this year's match start at $30 and go on sale Thursday at 10 a.m. at tickets.com, and by phone at 718-507-TIXX. The game will take place rain or shine.
Nieuwenhuis was scratched from Tuesday's game against the Phillies with a right hand bruise. Torres replaced him in center field.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. Adam Rosenbloom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.