Series preview: Mets at Indians

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The Met face (l to r) Scott Kazmir, Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar this weekend.METS (63-75, third place/NL East) vs. CLEVELAND INDIANS (74-65, second place/AL Central)

Friday: RHP Zack Wheeler (7-3, 3.36) vs. LHP Scott Kazmir (7-7, 4.36), 7:05 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Jonathon Niese (6-6, 3.66) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (7-5, 3.54), 6:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-3, 10.95) vs. RHP Danny Salazar (1-2, 3.00), 1:05 p.m. ET

Indians short hops

Corey Kluber makes his first start since Aug. 5 when he faces the Mets on Saturday. The Indians originally intended to have Kluber “piggyback” Scott Kazmir’s start Friday, but Justin Masterson has a left oblique issue and will miss at least one turn in the rotation. Kluber dealt with a sprained middle finger on his pitching hand.

Michael Bourn appeared to prefer signing with the Mets last offseason, but Mets officials insisted the fact that they would have needed to forfeit their 11th overall pick scuttled plans to ink him. Bourn instead signed with Cleveland for four years, $48 million, along with a vesting option for 2017. The Mets ended up using the draft pick on Los Angeles high school first baseman Dominic Smith.

Mark Duncan/Associated Press

Joe Smith also faces his original organization for the first time this weekend.

• Sidearm-throwing set-up man Joe Smith is a free agent after the season. Smith (6-2, 2.47 ERA) originally was drafted by the Mets in the third round out of Wright State University in 2006. He made the major league team out of spring training the following season. The Mets dealt Smith to Cleveland on Dec. 11, 2008 in the three-team deal that brought relievers J.J. Putz and Sean Green to Queens from the Seattle Mariners.

Smith has ascended to eighth-inning usage with the Indians in part because of Vinnie Pestano’s ineffectiveness. Pestano, who rejoined the Indians the week as a September call-up, had been demoted to Triple-A after Cleveland obtained left-hander Marc Rzepczynski before the trade deadline.

• The Indians reportedly will look to trade closer Chris Perez this offseason. He is making $7.3 million in 2013 and is eligible for arbitration once more before free agency.

• Rookie Danny Salazar will be making his seventh major league start. His fastball has averaged 96.0 mph. The Indians are keeping Salazar's pitch count to fewer than 90.

• The Indians brought a live chicken onto the field Wednesday and dubbed it their “Rally Chicken.”

Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched in Triple-A for Cleveland this season before being granted his release and signing with the Mets.

• Cleveland enters the weekend trailing the Tampa Bay Rays by three games for the second wild-card spot. The Yankees are 2½ games behind the Rays.

• Ex-Yankee Nick Swisher is hitting only .237 with 15 homers and 46 RBIs in 464 at-bats. He signed a four-year, $56 million deal with a 2017 vesting option last winter.

• Ex-Met Kelly Shoppach is a September call-up for the Indians. He was signed as a minor league free agent on Aug. 30. Shoppach hit .196 with three homers in 35 games for the Mariners earlier this season, before his June 20 release.