NEW YORK -- For the third time in the Mets' last four games, Daniel Murphy started the night on the bench.
On Friday, the decision had nothing to do with Murphy's slump, but rather came as part of manager Terry Collins' effort to start as many right-handed hitters as possible against Yankees starter Andy Pettitte.
But Friday is only one day.
Murphy's immense struggles at the plate -- he has only two hits in his last 21 at-bats -- have forced Collins to bench him in search of offensive production. Jordany Valdespin got two starts at second base earlier this week, and Justin Turner got the nod on Friday.
"I want to win games now," Collins said, "but I also want to get Daniel Murphy out of it. He's been a big piece of this whole thing. We showed up the first day of Spring Training knowing that his bat's got to be in the lineup."
Murphy is hitting a respectable .270 on the season with 28 RBIs, despite still vying for his first home run.
Collins said he plans to start Murphy on Saturday, but he admitted that the slump needs to end soon. Valdespin made his case with five combined hits in three starts against Baltimore -- two of which came at second base. Turner, now back from injury, has also showcased his offensive abilities for the Mets, though mainly last season.
"He's struggling and we're aware of that, but the only way to get him out of it is to make sure he gets at-bats," Collins said of his decision to start Murphy on Saturday. "He's not going to get out of it just hitting in the cage all day long. So we've got to get him some game time and some at-bats, and hopefully, he breaks out soon."
Mets activate Cedeno, option Elvin to Triple-A
NEW YORK -- Ronny Cedeno owes Andy Pettitte a thank you.
The shortstop, who has been on the disabled list since May 30 with a strained left calf, rejoined the Mets on Friday, and manager Terry Collins wasted no time getting him back in the starting lineup. Cedeno hit just just .172 (5-for-29) in seven rehab games with Triple-A Buffalo -- he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his final game on Thursday -- but Andy Pettitte's historic dominance over left-handed hitters meant that the right-handed-hitting Cedeno got the nod.
"I was surprised, but I have to be ready for any situation," Cedeno said before Friday's game. "I'm going to do the best I can tonight and just play hard."
The struggles in the box, according to Cedeno, stemmed from timing issues as a result of an extended absence, but he said prior to Friday's game that seeing "hard throwing" pitchers at the Triple-A level will help him get back on track.
But if one comes up, one must go down -- in this case reliever Elvin Ramirez, who was optioned to Buffalo by the Mets.
The move leaves the Mets with only six arms in the bullpen, but Collins said the decision was an easy one.
"With the way our starters have been going deep into games, it's been tough to give [Ramirez] enough work to keep him sharp," he said.
In five appearances, Ramirez allowed seven earned runs on 11 hits over seven innings, statistics Collins also attributed to a lack of work. Since making his first appearance of the season on June 3, Ramirez had seen action roughly every third day, but the skipper said the workload still wasn't consistent enough to help the right-hander progress.
"He's a young guy and has a huge future ahead of him, he's just not getting the work he needs to improve here," Collins said. "We just want to get him down and get him pitching, because I know there's a good chance he's going to be back anyway pretty soon. But he's got to go pitch."
Adam Rosenbloom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.