NEW YORK -- The upshot of manager Terry Collins shifting Kyle Farnsworth from the eighth to the ninth inning is that the Mets no longer have any obvious setup options.
"Right now I couldn't tell you," Collins said when asked on Monday afternoon who his primary eighth-inning option might be.
Collins went on to mention right-hander Carlos Torres as the likely candidate for the series opener against the Cardinals and, as promised, called on him in the eighth in a two-run game.
Torres did the job, lowering his ERA to 0.79 over his last eight games and perhaps earning him additional high-pressure innings in the future.
"Our bullpen's done a good job," Collins said of the unit as a whole. "After that first series, where I'm not sure what happened, they settled down. They're throwing the ball with much more command of their stuff than they did early, and they've pitched very well lately. You're going to have a night where somebody's going to get a big hit -- that's part of the game. But I think, certainly, in the last 10 games, our bullpen's done an outstanding job."
Collins also noted that Daisuke Matsuzaka could eventually pitch in a setup role but that he would prefer to keep him stretched out as rotation insurance for as long as possible. So for now, with Jose Valverde trying to return to top form and such prospects as Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom not quite ready to contribute at the big league level, the setup job may default to Torres.
Abreu joins Mets before Cardinals series
NEW YORK -- The scouting report from hitting coach Dave Hudgens, who managed Bobby Abreu in Caracas of the Venezuelan Winter League, was brief. Abreu, as Hudgens later told manager Terry Collins, simply delivered "one quality at-bat after another."
Because Abreu continued doing so over his first 15 games at Triple-A Las Vegas, batting .395 with five extra-base hits and a 1.068 OPS, he earned a quick callup to the Mets. He officially joined the team on Monday, bumping outfielder Andrew Brown back down to Vegas.
"Bobby certainly brings that quality Major League bat [where] the other manager's got to say, 'I don't want him up there,'" Collins said of Abreu, who signed a Minor League deal with the Mets earlier this month. "He's been an outstanding hitter in his career, so we wanted to get him up here."
That does not mean Abreu will play often, but it does mean he will serve as the primary left-handed pinch-hitter, starting every so often in the outfield to remain sharp.
"He's another guy that certainly fits the mold, the approach that we like to have here -- a guy who's willing to work the count, get a good ball to hit," Collins said. "He can be a dangerous bat for us."
The Mets already have a primary right-handed pinch-hitter in Josh Satin, and they like Kirk Nieuwenhuis' versatility in the outfield, so they chose to demote Brown instead of Nieuwenhuis. The move balances their bench, giving them three left-handed hitters and two righties.
It also gives them the services of Abreu, a career .292 hitter who starred for the Phillies early last decade. Though his skills have diminished in recent years, he spent significant time over the winter improving his mechanics and plate approach in an effort to return to the Majors at age 40.
"My swing is quick right now, especially with the balls inside," Abreu said. "Playing winter ball helped me a lot, just to get back on track. I was working hard over there and I was playing pretty much every day, to show and prove that at least I could have another opportunity. That's what I have right now."
Mets launch Military Monday at Citi Field
NEW YORK -- The Mets wore camouflage jerseys and caps for their series-opening game against the Cardinals to commemorate Military Monday, a new initiative honoring U.S. servicemen and -women at Citi Field. The club is saluting military members each home Monday this season by offering complimentary tickets, retail discounts and community outreach events.
General manager Sandy Alderson, pitcher Dillon Gee and WOR radio announcer Josh Lewin kicked off the program on Monday morning by visiting veterans and their dedicated doctors and nurses at the VA New York Harbor Healthcare Hospital in Manhattan. The Mets will also be honoring a Veteran of the Game each Monday at Citi Field.
U.S. military personnel with active or retired military identification will receive complimentary tickets to Monday night games for themselves and up to three guests on the following Mondays: April 21, July 7, July 28, Sept. 8 and Sept. 15. The tickets will be available (night-of-game only) in the ticket office lobby in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, subject to availability.