Marcum setback leaves Mets needing starter

Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports

Shaun Marcum

Shaun Marcum experienced neck pain and was unable to pitch in a scheduled simulated game Tuesday in Port St. Lucie, Fla. That means he will be unable to be activated from the disabled list to make Sunday's start against the Miami Marlins, the first time the Mets need a fifth starter.

Terry Collins previously had identified Aaron Laffey as the most likely alternative should Marcum be unavailable. The manager had just received word of Marcum's injury early Tuesday evening and indicated he would discuss potential replacements with Mets officials Wednesday.

Internally, unlike Laffey, Collin McHugh is on the 40-man roster. The Mets, though, could create a 40-man roster spot for Laffey by shifting Johan Santana to the 60-day DL. Santana underwent surgery Tuesday for a torn anterior capsule and is lost for the season.

Marcum received a cortisone shot in New York during spring training for a shoulder impingement, then developed neck discomfort upon returning to the mound. He officially is on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis.

Laffey was 4-6 with a 4.56 ERA in 22 appearances (16 starts) for the Toronto Blue Jays last season.