8/17/2014 12:21 A.M. ET
Escape plan: Bring in tenacious rookie Black
By Tim Healey / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Vic Black has been so good at escaping jams, Mets manager Terry Collins said, the coaches have considered bringing him in only when there are runners on base, and not for a clean inning -- the opposite of how a team would normally want to treat a young reliever.
As Black, 26, proved again Saturday in a 7-3 win over the Cubs, there is some merit to the idea. Collins called on Black in relief of Jon Niese, who left with the bases loaded and nobody out in the seventh inning, and Black was up to the task. He disposed of the top of the Cubs' lineup -- Chris Coghlan (liner to left), Javier Baez (popout to first) and Anthony Rizzo (popout to short) -- on eight pitches, allowing no runners to score.
"He's been unbelievable. The job he's done to come in with guys on base is truly amazing," Collins said. "He has not flinched. His command -- it's 10 times better when there are guys on. ... He just comes in with his eyes just focused. You say something to him, he just nods his head and goes about his job."
The three inherited runners Black stranded give him 20 in a row and 22 of 23 on the season -- a success rate of nearly 96 percent, among the best in baseball.
Against Black, batters are hitting .121 with a .194 on-base percentage and .212 slugging mark in 33 at-bats with runners in scoring position. When the bases are empty, those numbers jump up to .259/.355/.333.
"To be able to go out and compete and be in a situation that will benefit your team, especially help out one of your guys, is the most fun part," Black said. "Overall, the biggest deal is going into it knowing that you've done it before."
Black can recall in an instant the first time he did it. It was his third game as a freshman at Dallas Baptist University, and in the bottom of the 11th inning against Texas Christian University he loaded the bases with nobody out. A popup to the catcher and two strikeouts later, he escaped. He let out a celebratory scream after that last pitch -- a high heater the batter chased.
"You have to figure out a way to do it," Black said. "So now when I come into these situations it's things I've done, I've seen, gone over in my head before, so there's really no surprise."
HBP, Wright exits with soreness in troubled shoulder
NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins has been looking for a reason to give David Wright a day off before the team's off-day Thursday. Now he has one.
The third baseman exited Saturday's 7-3 win against the Cubs in the seventh inning due to posterior left shoulder soreness, the team announced. Wright was hit in the back by a pitch -- an 88-mph fastball from Dan Straily -- in the bottom of the sixth inning. He stayed in the game and came around to score, but Eric Campbell replaced him at third base in the seventh.
More troublesome than the hit-by-pitch itself is where it got Wright -- the back of his left shoulder, which has already given him issues this season.
"Out of my whole back it had to be kind of that one area," Wright said. "It shouldn't be anything. It's just bruised up and sore and a little stiff. See how it feels tomorrow."
Collins said Wright will probably get "a day or so off," though he will wait to see how Wright feels physically in the morning before making that determination.
Wright missed seven games at the end of June and beginning of July due to soreness in the same shoulder. Recently, he has regularly downplayed the effect it might be having on his game -- including his .236 average and .283 on-base percentage since he received a cortisone shot -- while Collins has referenced it as a situation that merits monitoring.
Wright stuck to his usual no-excuses tone Saturday night.
The coaches "thought it was best to give it a little bit of a rest," Wright said. "I just wish it had been a different spot. It kind of got me in a perfect spot."
Good news from deGrom: 'No pain'
NEW YORK -- Jacob deGrom met with the media prior to Saturday's contest against the Cubs and, after several days of uncertainty regarding the tendinitis in his right rotator cuff, the rookie right-hander was back to being all smiles.
"Threw out to 90 feet, and no problems with it. That's good news," deGrom said. "No pain. As good as I could hope for."
Next, deGrom will likely throw a bullpen session Sunday, though beyond that there is no set schedule. A Minor League rehabilitation assignment could be in the works, and the hope remains that deGrom will miss only two starts.
That would put him on track to start next Saturday against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
"In an ideal world, yes," manager Terry Collins said. "I'm not sure we live in one of those."
With the Mets' off-day Thursday, the club does have the option of simply skipping that slot in the rotation -- currently filled by Rafael Montero, who will pitch Sunday -- and sliding deGrom in whenever he is ready, in the event he needs an extra day or two. The wild card in that decision is Daisuke Matsuzaka (sore right elbow), who pitched for Double-A Binghamton on Saturday and is being stretched out in case the Mets need him to be a starter.
But that's a decision for another day. For now, deGrom and the Mets are just happy this first step back was a step forward.
"We really are [encouraged]," Collins said, adding that deGrom "says he feels great, there's no discomfort at all. Hopefully we're on the right track."
Given that deGrom was likely going to be shut down sometime next month when he reached his innings limit -- believed to be in the neighborhood of 180-185 -- he sees the silver lining in this minor injury.
"That's a plus," said deGrom, who has already thrown 138 2/3 innings between the Majors and Triple-A Las Vegas. "I think at some point I was going to get shut down anyway with an innings limit, so I guess it came at a good time. Get it back feeling 100 percent and hopefully finish the season strong.
"I was relieved when I got the MRI and the results came back. To go out today and not feel anything was a good feeling."
• Travis d'Arnaud got whacked in the arm by a Cubs backswing Friday night, and although it's not a concussion like he suffered in May, these workplace injuries special to catching are worrisome for the Mets.
"Right now he's OK. We are concerned about this. This guy has had one concussion, three in his career," Collins said. "We have to make sure this guy stays healthy because his bat is going to play, as we've seen. You can't keep losing this guy for seven days every month."
• Matsuzaka tossed six strong innings for Double-A Binghamton in his second rehab start Saturday. He outpitched Jesse Biddle, the Phillies' No. 4 prospect, by limiting the Reading bats to one run on three hits, striking out three and walking none. Matsuzaka threw 43 of his 69 pitches for strikes.
Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.