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8/21/2013 1:06 A.M. ET

Buck slides into backup role with d'Arnaud around

NEW YORK -- Asked often in Spring Training about his long-term role with the Mets, catcher John Buck typically spoke about a day he understood would come: the day that top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud would arrive in Flushing to take his job.

That day officially came Monday, when the Mets optioned backup Anthony Recker to Triple-A Las Vegas, keeping d'Arnaud in Queens and essentially pushing Buck into backup duty. As a result, Buck started Tuesday's game on the bench, while d'Arnaud squatted behind the plate.

"Obviously, playing time will be lessened, but that's kind of the nature of the beast," Buck said. "You've got your top prospect up, you're not just going to let him sit there."

The Mets do plan to keep Buck as involved as possible, starting him on occasion and leaning on his experience to help draw up game plans. But Buck, who mentored d'Arnaud extensively in Spring Training, is quite simply no longer a starting catcher.

"John Buck is not at the end of his career by any means, by any stretch of the imagination," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "So don't think this is John Buck being a coach. This is John Buck being a professional and trying to make one of his teammates better."

Parnell not yet ready to begin baseball activities

NEW YORK -- Closer Bobby Parnell's symptoms "are lessening," according to Mets manager Terry Collins, but not to the point that he is ready to begin baseball activities. Parnell has been on the disabled list since July 31 with a herniated disc in his neck, which may require surgery.

"I don't know how big a possibility it is right now," Parnell said of the likelihood of an operation.

Over the next few weeks, Parnell will continue undergoing physical therapy on his neck while he works out his lower body. He will also make regular trips to the doctor, where he will learn if he is able to progress in his rehab.

"I'm pushing as hard as I can," Parnell said. "But they've got the reins."

If he does continue to advance, Parnell will eventually start baseball activities with an eye toward returning before the end of the season. But if that does not happen soon, he will undergo season-ending surgery, which carries a four- to five-month rehabilitation timetable. Prior to his injury, Parnell had logged 22 saves in 26 chances with a career-best 2.16 ERA.

"I'm pushing to get back this season, but the doctors are hesitant and rightfully so," Parnell said. "It's a part of the body where they feel like if I push it too much or come back too quick, there could be some serious damage. It's a fine balancing act."

Wright expects to return to Mets this season

NEW YORK -- Though he remains limited on a daily basis to physical therapy and light baseball activity, David Wright fully expects to play again this season.

"I don't think in my mind there's any question," Wright said.

The third baseman delivered that shot of optimism late Tuesday afternoon, after spending time roaming around the outfield grass -- more a social call than anything -- during Mets batting practice at Citi Field. Because the Mets have been out of town for nearly two weeks, Wright had not had an opportunity to see any of his teammates or coaches while nursing his strained right hamstring.

"This is what I love to do," Wright said. "I can't tell you how bored I was the last two weeks."

Wright's activities have been limited to leg-strengthening exercises at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, upper-body work, playing catch and hitting off a tee. He hopes to ramp up his daily activity relatively soon, ideally at Citi Field alongside members of the Mets' training staff. Only once he does so will Wright consider traveling to Port St. Lucie, Fla., for more intensive rehab.

"It's one step at a time, sometimes to my dismay," Wright said. "I'd like to take a big jump forward, and they prohibit me from doing that. It's kind of a frustrating process just being able to gradually take baby steps, but it's the process that the doctors and the trainers and the medical staff have set forth for me, so we're going to continue to follow that."

Once Wright does depart for Florida, he does not envision it being long before he can return to active duty. Wright originally strained his hamstring Aug. 2 against the Royals.

"It's not like I've forgotten how to play the game in two weeks," Wright said. "I don't think it would be long at all."

Mejia set for surgery; Hefner may not be far behind

NEW YORK -- One Mets starting pitcher is on his way to season-ending surgery, and another may not be far behind.

Right-hander Jenrry Mejia will have surgery within the next seven to 10 days to remove a bone spur "and whatever other debris is in" his right elbow, according to Mets manager Terry Collins. Mejia has been facing the prospect of surgery for most of this summer, but the timetable changed when his symptoms worsened this week in San Diego.

With Mejia out of the rotation for the rest of the year, Collins said that right-hander Carlos Torres will join the rotation this Friday against the Tigers, and stay there for the foreseeable future.

Collins also said he fully expects Mejia to be ready not simply for the start of Spring Training, but perhaps even for winter ball.

The prognosis is not as bright for right-hander Jeremy Hefner, whose examination Tuesday morning ended with doctors recommending Tommy John surgery to repair the partially torn MCL in his right elbow. Hefner plans to receive a second opinion in the near future, knowing a Tommy John operation would sideline him for most, if not all, of next season.

Worth noting

• The Mets on Monday signed right-handed pitchers Mitch Talbot and Daryl Thompson to Minor League deals and assigned them to Triple-A Las Vegas. Talbot, 29, owns a career 5.30 ERA over parts of three seasons with the Rays and Indians; he last pitched in the Majors in 2011. Thompson, 28, has appeared in four career games with the Reds, the last of them also in '11.

• The World Tennis Association's top-ranked singles player, Serena Williams, will challenge Mrs. Met in a table tennis match Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET in Madison Square Park. The event is free and open to the public.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.