Terry Collins puts players 'on notice:' Hit or sit

Kelly Johnson will bat cleanup in his Mets debut on Saturday and will get plenty of chances to perform at the plate with his new team. David Zalubowski/AP

NEW YORK -- New York Mets manager Terry Collins offered a stern message to his players in the wake of Friday's trade with the Atlanta Braves: Perform or take a seat on the bench ... or worse.

Collins on Saturday offered no indication newly acquired Juan Uribe or Kelly Johnson would regularly start games. Still, the manager pledged to use the players who are producing. And if that ends up being Uribe and Johnson, so be it.

"They’ve been put on notice it’s time to pick it up," Collins said.

So if Uribe gets a start at third base and thrives, he will see more action. If Johnson excels, the Mets will find a way to keep the versatile player in the starting lineup. Johnson is batting cleanup and starting at second base in his Mets debut on Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, with Wilmer Flores getting a day off. Uribe is on the bench on his first day as a Met.

Collins said Flores will start taking pregame grounders at shortstop, although the manager hesitantly indicated that Flores' initial action at that position should be limited to sporadic starts when Ruben Tejada needs a day off.

"I've got to be careful. I know you guys," Collins said. "And if I say Ruben is the shortstop, and I play Wilmer there tomorrow, the sky is falling. So I'm not going to say that. I'm just telling you day after day, we're going to put the people out there who we think are the right guys. If somebody gets in a slump and Kelly Johnson is swinging the bat, I’m going to get him in there. If Juan Uribe, when we get him in the lineup, if he starts tearing it up, he's going to play.

"We have not scored. We have not hit. We went out and got two guys who we think have added some offense to us. I'm not going to leave them sitting on the bench. If they're going to bring more offense than what we've got, they’re going to get in there somewhere."

The Mets enter Saturday ranked last in the majors in batting average (.233) and ahead of only the Chicago White Sox in runs scored.

"If you want to stay in the lineup, you've got to start hitting," Collins said. "We've played great. Our pitching has been good. We've caught the baseball. We've got to start scoring some runs. We're getting beat because we’re not scoring. Our pitching is good enough to keep us in any game. ... I'll tell you what: Whoever is swinging the bat is going to play. It's about scoring some runs right now.

"The message has been sent: Listen, we've got to start scoring."