Scott Hairston strained the same left oblique muscle that prompted him to finish last season on the disabled list, the outfielder said. Hairston, who suffered the injury swinging in the first inning of Saturday's intrasquad game, expects to receive a cortisone shot Monday.
Terry Collins said he is "concerned" and "worried" about Hairston because it is a repeat of last year's severe issue. The manager said lefty-hitting Adam Loewen will now get more reps in center field. Hairston has been slated to be the primary backup to Andres Torres in center field as well as the righty-hitting backup for the bench. Loewen started three games with the Toronto Blue Jays last season in center field, and also manned the position for 16 games at Triple-A Las Vegas in 2011.
Hairston strained the left oblique Aug. 23 of last season against the Philadelphia Phillies and did not return.
"Same as last year, pretty much," Hairston said about the current issue. "I felt it on the swing out there. I felt it grab. And once I felt it grab, I figured it wouldn't be a good idea to take another swing. ... I wouldn't think it's as serious as it was last year. I think right now, the way I feel, it's one of those things where I know it's injured, but it's not severe."
If Hairston were to start the season on the DL, the righty hitters in camp who could step into a backup outfield role include Vinny Rottino. The Mets also could be in the market for outfield help at the end of spring training, since they already were not sold entering camp about whether Loewen or Mike Baxter would be productive enough to be the lefty-hitting backup outfielder.
Hairston said he worked out during the offseason without issue, but his left side started feeling sore the past couple of days.
"But it's just really something that comes out of nowhere," Hairston added. "I took BP today and I felt pretty good. But once you get in a game-like situation, you get the adrenaline going and you're trying to hit a 92 mph fastball instead of a 56 mph one in BP, I think that quicker reaction and the muscles firing, when all that happens -- if you have an injury, or you're rebounding from injury -- you become vulnerable if you're not fully healed. I guess that was the case.
"If I were to guess, I might have had some scar tissue there from before. And it was probably close to being fully healed. But the strenuous work that you do as a ballplayer when you're on the field, maybe I did a little too much. Maybe I wasn't doing my routine the way I should be. I don't know. Maybe it's just the way my body is. With the injection, probably it will speed things up. Last year I didn't get one. This year hopefully it will be different and I'll be back as soon as possible."
Said Collins: "I'm concerned. I certainly can't address how long it's going to be, but I'm concerned about it. ... The only thing that scares me about Scott is he did it bad last year. His was bad."