Mets morning briefing 5.21.12

The Mets salvaged the finale of their interleague series in Toronto, holding on for a 6-5 win when former Blue Jays closer Frank Francisco struck out three straight batters in the ninth after allowing a leadoff walk to Yunel Escobar, then single by Jose Bautista through the barren right side of the infield.

Monday's news reports:

Miguel Batista landed on the DL on Sunday morning with a strained oblique or lower-back muscle. Jeremy Hefner is likely to start Thursday's game against the San Diego Padres at Citi Field in that rotation slot. Chris Schwinden was promoted for Sunday's game as a hedge against Dillon Gee having a short outing, but was not needed. The Mets plan to make another roster move before Monday's series opener in Pittsburgh to add a position player. Vinny Rottino -- who had a three-homer game for Triple-A Buffalo on Saturday -- would appear a logical choice to return to the major league roster. Schwinden is the easiest to return to Buffalo. Manny Acosta would be an alternative, but seemingly less likely choice to get dismissed to free the roster spot.

Terry Collins for the first time Sunday morning allowed for the possibility of Ike Davis getting sent to the minors if his performance does not show improvement on this trip. Despite a seeming roster crunch looming with Ruben Tejada slated to begin rehab games as soon as today and Jason Bay due to take batting practice in Pittsburgh for the first time this afternoon, there are demotion candidates. Davis is one. And Kirk Nieuwenhuis' production considerably has slowed since the rookie's torrid start.

The added benefit of Nieuwenhuis returning to the minors is it could delay his free agency a year. If Nieuwenhuis were to stay at the major league level continuously, he would be eligible for free agency after his sixth season, during the 2017-18 offseason. If he logs a total of 20 days in the minors this year, he would not get credit for a full major league season in 2012 and would be delayed in free agency at least until the following winter -- 2018-19. Read more in the Daily News, Post and Newsday.

Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger writes about Davis' issues:

-  He’s hitting too many grounders (50 percent of his balls in play before Sunday, according to FanGraphs.com). In the first inning, Davis hacked at a low, 91-mph sinker and tapped the ball back to Alvarez. With the bases loaded in the fifth, he rolled a fastball into what should have been a double play, except second baseman Kelly Johnson fumbled the exchange.

-  His luck has been poor. In the fourth inning, Davis smashed a fastball toward the opposite field -- right into the glove of third baseman Yan Gomes. Entering Sunday's game, Davis was hitting line drives 17.4 percent of the time, or slightly better than 2011’s 17 percent mark. Except his batting average on balls in play was a miniscule .184, nearly 200 points below his career average. “He just needs those [line drives] to fall,” hitting coach Dave Hudgens said.

- He’s not drawing walks. Davis saw exactly three pitches in his first three at-bats Sunday.

• Regarding Nieuwenhuis, Barbara Barker writes in Newsday:

A week ago, he led all major-league rookies with a .302 batting average and was second with 35 hits. He went 1-for-3 with an RBI double and two walks in the Mets' 6-5 win Sunday and is now batting .277 with 38 hits, seven doubles, two home runs, 13 RBIs and 16 walks. "This kid doesn't deserve to go back to Triple-A with the way he's swung the bat so far," Buffalo manager Wally Backman said. "But he needs to play. I think for his development, he needs to play every day." Nieuwenhuis says he can't worry about what the future holds, other than to try to perform his best each day he plays. "It's been pretty cool playing up here with the guys," he said, "but whatever happens, happens. I don't make those decisions. I just have to take one day at a time and focus."

David Wright returned from a day off Saturday and delivered a two-run double in the first inning as part of a 2-for-4 series finale that raised his average to .412. Wright, still sick, passed Jose Reyes for second on the franchise's all-time hit list with 1,302. He needs 116 more hits to match Mets record-holder Ed Kranepool.

Mike Baxter had a career-high three hits Sunday while starting for the second straight game with the Mets using an extra position player in their lineup in the AL ballpark. Collins pledged to find Baxter playing time in Pittsburgh, although the manager said not at first base yet, and not on Monday against Pirates left-hander Erik Bedard. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Gee had a new look and better results. Read more in the Post.

• Read game recaps in the Record, Times, Daily News, Journal, Newsday and Post.

• Collins reiterated Jenrry Mejia is far more likely to help the Mets as a reliever at the major league level in 2012. Read more in Newsday.

Tim Kurkjian catches up with hot-hitting ex-Met Carlos Beltran at ESPN.com. Kurkjian notes Beltran is two steals shy of 300 swipes and 300 homers in his career, a club that is currently limited to Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez, Andre Dawson, Bobby Bonds, Reggie Sanders and Steve Finley. Writes Kurkjian:

If it weren't for Matt Kemp, Beltran, 35, would be the most valuable player in the National League six weeks into the season. If it weren't for the remarkable Josh Hamilton, May would have been all about Beltran. Not only has he replaced the 2011 production of Albert Pujols in the Cardinals' lineup, he has greatly exceeded it while helping take St. Louis to the front of the National League Central, all while dazzling his new teammates. "When I ran out on the field with him the first time in spring training,'' said Cardinals third baseman David Freese, "I knew he was the most complete player I'd ever played with.''

Lance Berkman, who also was Beltran's teammate during that prolific 2004 postseason with Houston that set up Beltran's seven-year, $119 million contract with the Mets told Kurkjian: "It's funny. An elite player has some things happen to him for three or four years, like injuries, then he becomes an elite player again, and people ask, 'What's going on here?' Just look at the back of his baseball card. He is as complete a player as I've ever played with. He does everything well, and he looks good doing it. When you look at what a player is supposed to do, he's about as good as it gets.''

Corey Wimberly stole home for Buffalo's lone run in a 4-1 loss to Indianapolis on Sunday. It was the second time a Mets farmhand has swiped home this season. Wimberly had a pure steal of the plate, while Binghamton's Josh Rodriguez stole home on April 21 as part of a double-steal. Read Sunday's full minor league recap here.

• Forty-thousand Orthodox Jews packed Citi Field on Sunday to decry the internet. Read more in the Daily News.

Michael Howard Saul in the Journal revealed that Citi Field, now in its fourth season, still does not have all its full permits from the city in order. Mayor Michael Bloomberg at last week's All-Star Game press conference dismissed the issue as procedural and insignificant and insisted the stadium was safe. Wrote Saul, alluding to the City Hall announcement about next season's Mid-Summer Classic:

Unmentioned was the embarrassing fact that the three-year-old stadium in Queens still hasn’t received a certificate of occupancy from the city. The stadium has a temporary certificate, which means it is “safe and legal to occupy,” said Tony Sclafani, a spokesman for the Department of Buildings, in an email.

TRIVIA: For which former Pirate Pirate is the yellow bridge spanning the Allegheny River adjacent to PNC Park named?

Sunday's answer: Jason Bay was the last Pirate to have a multi-homer game against the Mets. At Shea Stadium on July 24, 2007, Bay went deep off John Maine and Guillermo Mota.