Notebook: Thole, Ramirez and Johnson

Josh Thole paced around his house this morning.

"It's like opening day again," Thole said. "Just anxious to get out there."

Thole returns to the lineup for the first time in nearly a month when he catches and bats seventh against the Cardinals. Thole has been on the disabled list with a concussion he suffered May 7 against Philadelphia, the fourth of his career.

"I have no problems," Thole said. "After the first 10 days of going through what I was going through, after that I felt fine. I feel good, ready to get back out there."

Thole did not experience anything beyond the headaches, specifically mentioning vomiting, in the aftermath of the concussion, so he knew it wasn't as serious as the one he sustained in 2007. He's taking precautionary measures by wearing a hockey-style mask behind the plate that weighs more than a normal mask.

"I think it gives me a better chance that if I had the two-piece (mask)," Thole said. "This one stays on more times that not."

Manager Terry Collins said the team plans to start Thole in at least three of the four games against the Cardinals, and Thole said it helped him that he was able to play this past week in the minor league and get acclimated back to speed.

"I was fortunate enough to catch Chris Young in Buffalo and he prepares as good as anybody so we were able to put together scouting reports together and go through what would be a normal day for me," Thole said. "I feel like that got me back in the saddle for this."

RAMIREZ UP: The Mets called up reliever Elvin Ramirez from Triple-A. He struck out 35 batters in 27 2/3 innings in the minors, and didn't yield a run in 14 2/3 innings with Buffalo.

"Just come here and I think I’m ready for this," Ramirez said. "Whenever they give me the chance, I'm going to do what I have to do."

Ramirez started with the Mets before being selected by the Nationals in the 2010 Rule 5 Draft, but ultimately ended back with the Mets. He missed all of last year after having a right shoulder debridement of his rotator cuff and labrum.

"You want to get him in there while he's hot, while he's throwing so well," Collins said of using Ramirez. "I'll see what transpires tonight and where our best fit is going to be."

WHY JOHNSON? The Mets elected to demote Rob Johnson to Triple-A instead of Mike Nickeas, a move Collins described as tough to make. Collins said Johnson played very well for the Mets, as he hit .313, but the team wanted Johnson to play all the time.

"I thought it was important with Josh back that we make sure our catching stays as strong as it can be, so I wanted him to go play," Collins said. "Didn't want him to sit on the bench five days. One of the reasons I thought he played so well is that he got playing time here. Josh back, not going to get much. I said you have to go back and keep swinging the way you've been swinging."