Paulino gets first start at cleanup
Lefty-killer is first catcher since Piazza in 2005 to bat fourth
DETROIT -- At least for one game, the Mets found a new cleanup hitter against left-handed pitching.
Citing his desire not to tinker with Jason Bay, Mets manager Terry Collins shifted catcher Ronny Paulino to the fourth spot for Wednesday's game against the Tigers. It marked the first time a Mets catcher has started in the cleanup spot since Mike Piazza on Oct. 2, 2005, his final game with the team.
Bay, who had been batting fourth against left-handers for the past two weeks, hit fifth Wednesday against Tigers lefty Phil Coke.
Production against left-handers, more than anything, was the reason why the Mets acquired Paulino for $1.3 million last offseason. And he has not disappointed, batting .364 with a .404 on-base percentage in 44 at-bats against lefties this season.
"That's pretty good," Collins said. "I hope it instills a little energy into Ronny that, 'Hey look, we want you to produce some runs. Get out there and take those good swings that you've been doing, because there's going to be guys on base.'"
In that sense, the move was designed to jump-start an offense that entered Wednesday's play hitting 24 points and slugging 38 points lower against left-handed pitching.
Odd sequence leads to no warmup for Byrdak
DETROIT -- Mets manager Terry Collins signaled for a lefty in the bottom of the seventh inning on Wednesday night, but no lefty was warming in the bullpen. So right-hander Bobby Parnell walked through the open gate and prepared to jog to the mound.
Suddenly, bullpen coach Jon Debus called him back. Collins, it turned out, had been calling for left-hander Tim Byrdak, who had not warmed up.
"The look on Bobby's face as I passed him on the warning track was priceless," Byrdak said, laughing.
Byrdak could laugh, because the Mets won Wednesday's game, 16-9, in spite of the two-run homer that Byrdak allowed to Andy Dirks. But Collins was not quite so amused by the episode, which resulted directly from a lack of communication.
Byrdak had warmed briefly an inning earlier, but threw only a handful of pitches and was cold by the time Collins called on him with two outs in the seventh. The only problem was his manager was not aware of that fact.
"I thought he was ready," Collins said. "He was not. I'll take that. It's not his fault. It's mine."
Harris on paternity leave, Martinez returns
DETROIT -- Mets outfielder Willie Harris traveled back to New York late Wednesday night to be with his wife, Trey, who unexpectedly went into labor five months into her pregnancy.
The Mets placed Harris on Major League Baseball's paternity list following Wednesday's game and recalled outfielder Fernando Martinez from Triple-A Buffalo.
"It's pretty early for the baby, so hopefully she's OK," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We certainly are thinking of him and her."
Harris learned of his wife's condition shortly before Wednesday's game and flew directly to New York. Under the rules of baseball's paternity list, he must miss at least one game and can be absent for up to three.
Martinez, 22, will fly to Detroit on Thursday for his second stint with the team this season. A former top prospect of the club, Martinez hit .250 during a two-week stretch with the Mets in May and was hitting .266 with six homers in 158 at-bats for Buffalo.
Mets confident Niese will start Friday
DETROIT -- Though the Mets had not yet received results from Jon Niese's final cardiac exam by game time Wednesday, the team remains confident that Niese will make his next start on Friday against the Yankees.
"He's going to be fine," manager Terry Collins said. "All indications point that the examinations were good."
Still wearing a heart monitor during pitchers' batting practice Wednesday at Comerica Park, Niese returned the device to Henry Ford Hospital later in the afternoon. Though the Mets did not expect to have the results of the test until evening, they did not anticipate any issues.
Niese had already passed a battery of cardiac tests the previous day at Henry Ford, and has been calling his tachycardia a non-issue since leaving last Saturday's start in the sixth inning with a rapid heartbeat.
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"I think it was heat-related, no question about it," Collins said. "His heart just started to race. When he got calmed down, he was fine. He's been fine ever since."
Wright could play in rehab games next week
DETROIT -- Mets third baseman David Wright swung a bat Wednesday for the first time in six weeks, and could begin a Minor League rehab assignment as soon as next week.
Wright, who had previously been limited to core exercises since landing on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his lower back, took swings in a pool Wednesday and is scheduled to hit off a tee for the first time on Thursday. If all goes well, manager Terry Collins said, Wright could begin a rehab assignment within the next seven to eight days. That would keep him on track to return shortly after the All-Star break.
Collins spoke with Wright on Wednesday afternoon and reported that the third baseman was in good spirits, six weeks to the day after hitting the DL.
"He said he feels absolutely great," Collins said. "It was a good conversation."
Playing much of the season with the stress fracture in his back, Wright was batting .226 with six home runs prior to landing on the disabled list.
Another day, more feats for Reyes
DETROIT -- The statistical file on Jose Reyes is growing by the day.
By tripling in the fifth inning of Tuesday's game, Reyes became the first player since the dead-ball era to hit 15 triples in his team's first 79 games. (Seven others have hit 14.) He now is on pace for 31 triples, which would be the second most in Major League history, and the most since Chief Wilson set the all-time record with 36 in 1912.
Reyes also recorded four hits for the league-leading fourth time this season and the 23rd in his career, adding to his franchise record. In addition to his triples, Reyes continues to lead the Majors with 117 hits and 40 multi-hit games.