4/18/2014 7:55 P.M. ET
Matsuzaka to back up injured starters
By Joe Lemire / Special to MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Manager Terry Collins announced plans to use recently promoted right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka as injury insurance in case either of his hurting rotation members, Bartolo Colon and Jenrry Mejia, is unable to take his scheduled turn.
Colon was dealing with a back issue during his previous start, in which he was hit hard, as the Angels scored nine runs on 11 hits over five innings. Collins reported that Colon did his normal long-toss session during Thursday's off-day and felt great, so he should be ready for his start against the Braves on Saturday. But Collins did concede that the cool weather could have an impact.
Mejia left his most recent start, in Arizona on Tuesday, with a blister on the middle finger of his right throwing hand. Mejia told reporters afterward that he expected to make his next start, which is scheduled for Monday against the Cardinals, though Collins noted that Mejia would have a throwing session before then.
"If Bartolo's back stiffens up on him, [Matsuzaka] has got to be ready," Collins said. "He'll come tomorrow as if he's going to pitch. If Bart's O.K., he'll need to do the same thing with Jenrry. If his finger flares up today or if he can't throw today or tomorrow, we've got to have a backup plan, and right now Daisuke is our best option."
Matsuzaka allowed just three runs in 12 innings over two starts for Triple-A Las Vegas this month. He has made 123 big league starts, primarily with the Red Sox, before joining the Mets for seven outings late last season. He went 3-3 with a 4.42 ERA and re-signed on a Minor League deal this winter.
C. Young returns to Mets' lineup
NEW YORK -- In his final rehab game for Triple-A Las Vegas, outfielder Chris Young scored from second base on a single, sprinting at full speed through third and evading a tag at the plate. It was just one run in a 6-3 victory, but it made Young, recovering from an injured right quadriceps, feel not only physically but mentally ready for big league action.
"That was probably the most I had to push it on my rehab stint," Young said on Friday afternoon, "and it felt good, so I'm pretty confident that it'll be good to go today."
Young returned to the lineup on Friday, batting fifth and playing center field against Braves right-hander Aaron Harang.
"The guys have been playing great," Young said of his big league teammates, "so I'm just trying to join in the party right now."
After signing a one-year, $7.25 million free-agent contract this winter, Young missed Opening Day because of his injury. He started the season's second game two days later but left after chasing a fly ball in the first inning and went on the 15-day disabled list.
"I think I made the right call, looking back on it right now," he said. "I was still able to come back at the two-week mark as opposed to knowing it wasn't right and then trying to push it and doing something worse to the point where maybe I miss a month or so."
Young went 8-for-12 with two doubles, two homers and two walks in three games in Triple-A. He said that he wasn't challenged much in the field, offering a rave review of the organization's pitching at that level.
"Our pitching in Triple-A is pretty good for us right now, so there weren't too many balls hit to deep center field or deep left field, wherever I was playing that day," he said. "[Noah] Syndergaard, [Rafael] Montero, Daisuke [Matsuzaka] -- guys like that were doing well."
Collins hoping for better fortunes at home
NEW YORK -- Manager Terry Collins is hopeful that his club can turn around its fortunes at Citi Field as it begins a 10-game homestand.
"We've got to play better at home, which the last two years really kept us from being a team that was in the hunt," Collins said.
In 2012 the Mets were 36-45 at Citi Field and 38-43 anywhere else; last season the splits diverged further, as New York was 33-48 at home and 41-40 on the road.
The 2014 season has barely begun, but the first homestand and road trip have followed the same trend. New York went 2-4 to start the season at home but went 6-3 while visiting the Braves, Angels and D-backs.
Collins reiterated that the issue was addressed in Spring Training and that the home pregame routine was altered to match what's done when the Mets are the away team.
"We're trying to get a little bit more similar to what we do on the road," Collins said. "They're aware that's an issue with everybody, including them, that we've got to play better."
Some of the discrepancy is just circumstance and the opponent, especially in the small sample of the season's first three weeks. The Mets batted .178 with a .597 OPS in those six home games while averaging 3.5 runs per game; on the road the offense had a .257 average and .669 OPS while scoring 5.2 runs per game.
"[During] our first homestand," Collins said, "as we reviewed a lot of the tape, [we saw that] we fouled a lot of pitches off that we should have hit hard -- real hard."
Joe Lemire is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.