Jose Reyes was scratched from tonight’s game with stiffness in his lower back. Reyes clutched his back during batting practice and left the field.
When things looked bleak for the Mets about a month ago, with three of their starters out of the rotation, the Mets brought up knuckleballer R.A. Dickey from Triple-A Buffalo to make a spot start.
He hasn’t left the rotation since, and it’s not hard to imagine where the Mets would be without in 5-0 record and 2.82 ERA.
Tonight he’ll be vying to become the first Mets starter to win his first six decisions with the team, and the first Met to go 6-0 since Mike Pelfrey in 2008.
Dickey was on the ropes in his last start at Cleveland, but was able to make an in-inning adjustment to hold on for the victory.
The adjustment came at the suggestion of pitching coach Dan Warthen, who told Dickey to light a fire under the butterfly.
“I had runners on second and third and he came out and encouraged me to throw the hard one,’’ Dickey said. “It’s about 4, 5 mph harder than my comfort-zone knuckler. It was a good step in my evolution, learning to adjust in-game.’’
It’s a risky adjustment for a knuckleballer to make because there’s always the possibility the extra push could force the pitch to spin out into a slow fat batting practice fastball.
A strikeout machine for much of this season, David Wright enters tonight’s game against the San Diego Padres on a big-time tear, with 13 hits in his last 25 at-bats – most of them scalded.
During that span Wright only struck out four times, three of them last Wednesday at San Diego. He did not strike out during the Florida series.
Wright said he was all over the place earlier this season, but has become more selective over the past week not chasing the sliders away. He’s also been quicker with the bat and getting to the inside fastball.
The Mets are saying Carlos Beltran played in an extended spring training game and went 2-for-6, but he did not run the bases. Basically, this amounted to a live batting practice.
Personally, I still want Reyes leading off where he can do the most good. Better to leave Reyes where he is. Let’s look at it this way. If Reyes doesn’t bat third they still have a good option in David Wright. But, if Reyes doesn’t bat first, where do they go?
Why create a problem in the leadoff slot if you don’t have to?
Here’s tonight’s line-up for the Mets (2-4):
Jose Reyes, SS
Luis Castillo, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Jason Bay, LF
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Fernando Tatis, 1B
Rod Barajas, C
Angel Pagan, CF
John Maine, RP
NOTES: Lefties Johan Santana and Oliver Perez will stay on schedule, meaning the latter won’t be skipped to keep the former at every fifth day. … Jon Niese goes tomorrow followed by Mike Pelfrey Thursday against the Rockies. … Carlos Delgado, who is rehabbing from hip surgery in Colorado, visited the clubhouse this afternoon. … Many of the Mets, who are hitting .245 as a team and .189 with runners in scoring position, took early batting practice. … As a bonding exercise, most of the team took in the Nuggets game Monday night.
NOTE FROM ME: For the next few months I am taking a night class. I will be in the Chat Room tonight, but won’t get there until nine. So, you’ll have to do the first inning without me. Thanks-JD