Mets designate U.S. Olympian Knight for assignment

NEW YORK -- Brandon Knight was designated for assignment Sunday so the New York Mets could add an extra arm to their bullpen after a 14-inning loss to the St. Louis Cardinals the previous night.

His consolation prize? Knight is headed to Beijing as a member of the U.S. Olympic team.

Knight said he would have preferred to stay with New York, where the 32-year-old filled in admirably for Pedro Martinez before leaving after five innings with a 5-4 lead. Instead, he's off to California to join Team USA for drug testing and introductions early next week.

"It's a no-lose situation," Knight said Saturday night.

The Mets called up left-hander Willie Collazo from Triple-A New Orleans after their relievers combined to pitch nine innings in the 10-8 loss to the Cardinals. Aaron Heilman went three innings and threw 57 pitches, giving up a go-ahead two-run homer to Albert Pujols in the 14th.

If the game would have pressed on, the Mets would have used starter Oliver Perez.

Collazo appeared in six games for New York last season and allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. He was 4-6 with a 4.08 ERA in 31 appearances this season at New Orleans.

"We needed another body," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said.

Manuel said he hopes Martinez will be ready to start Friday night against Houston. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has been on the bereavement list since his father, Pablo Jaime, died last week at age 79 after battling a form of brain cancer.

Martinez hasn't pitched since leaving his July 12 start with a sore shoulder and tightness in his groin. He would have to throw a simulated game early in the week to be ready for Friday, Manuel said, and even then would be held to a pitch count of 70-80 when he returned.

"It depends on how he's doing," Manuel said. "The pitch count is definitely important, but that's just a part of his history."

In other news, injured outfielder Ryan Church (post-concussion syndrome) had his bags packed and was joining his teammates on their upcoming trip to Florida.

Church did light physical activity again and could begin baseball activities at the team's facility in St. Lucie on Monday, Manuel said. He'll make at least a couple rehab starts and could be ready for the Mets' next homestand beginning Aug. 5 against San Diego.

"He'll travel with us today and, if all systems are go, we'll just leave him in St. Lucie," Manuel said. "He could say, 'Hey, I want to play in a game Tuesday.' ... We'll have to see."