MIAMI -- Every team has an emergency pitcher and an emergency catcher somewhere on its active roster. Few teams ever have reason to use them.
Mets manager Terry Collins knew from an incident two years ago that outfielder Mike Baxter boasted enough catching experience to serve behind the plate if needed. But it was not until the later innings Monday that he discovered backup catcher Anthony Recker's history as a part-time pitcher at Alvernia University.
That discovery prompted Recker to begin warming his right arm at Marlins Park, with the intention of pitching the 16th inning had the Mets not lost in 15. It also had Recker reminiscing about his college days, when he would unleash what he considered a decent knuckleball in two-strike counts.
Recker said he would have tried his knuckler on Marlins hitters had he entered the game.
"I was pitching the next inning," he said. "I was ready."
It never came to that, and the Mets hope it never does. Still, their bullpen remained shorthanded heading into Tuesday's play, with only left-hander Robert Carson available to pitch multiple innings. Fellow lefty Scott Rice was completely unavailable after appearing in three straight games and five of the last six.
Wright states case, returns to Mets lineup
MIAMI -- Three hours prior to Tuesday's first pitch against the Marlins, Mets manager Terry Collins expressed some hesitancy over testing David Wright's sore neck in the starting lineup. Because the Mets have a scheduled off-day on Thursday, Collins said, benching Wright for the rest of the series in Miami might have been prudent.
But Wright is not the type of player who signs off on such plans easily. So when the Mets finally posted their starting lineup, Wright was back in it, batting third.
"He said he wants to try it," Collins said shortly before making his final decision. "But it's going to be a decision that he has to make along with us of, 'Are we sacrificing five more days if he plays and it gets worse, or is it going away and it's not going to get worse?'"
Wright finished the game 0-for-4 at the plate, but made a diving play on defense and said afterward that he felt well enough to play again Wednesday.
Though the third baseman sat out Monday's game with a stiff neck, he approached Collins around the eighth inning to say he felt strong enough to pinch-hit, which he ultimately did in the 13th. That allowed Wright to maintain his status as one of three Mets -- Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada are the others -- to appear in all 25 of the team's games this season.
Frustrating end to excellent April for Parnell
MIAMI -- As Tuesday's ninth-inning madness unfolded at Marlins Park, Mets closer Bobby Parnell remained motionless in the bullpen. Because Parnell had thrown three innings over the past two days, including two in Monday's 15-inning loss to the Marlins, manager Terry Collins was committed to keeping him out of Tuesday's game.
The closer was not pleased about it.
"Last year I did this to him, and he ended up having a sore elbow," Collins said. "I'm not going to do that on the first day of May. He's mad, and he should be because he's the closer, but I'm just not going to break this guy."
And so Parnell's April ended on a frustrating note. The numbers say he just enjoyed one of the strongest months of his career, with 10 strikeouts, one walk, zero homers and a 1.59 ERA over 11 1/3 innings. But Parnell also blew two of his four save opportunities in star-crossed fashion.
Two weeks ago, Parnell blew his first save when Ruben Tejada committed a throwing error in the ninth, leading to a Rockies comeback at Coors Field. On Tuesday, Parnell lost another chance after Collin Cowgill broke the wrong way on a popup, allowing the tying run to score in the ninth.
Because the circumstances were so unusual in each case, and because Parnell has had so few opportunities, the Mets are hardly concerned about his conversion rate.
"It's very hard, because he's thrown the ball very well," Collins said. "Bobby's done a good job. Actually, he's throwing the ball pretty good. We just haven't helped him."
• In a discussion regarding Matt Harvey's pitch counts, Mets manager Terry Collins said he regretted allowing Johan Santana to throw 134 pitches in his no-hitter last June. "It turned out not to be a very good idea, by the way," Collins said, referring to the season-ending shoulder surgery that Santana underwent earlier this month. "A lot of people are happy they saw the no-hitter, but I wish he was starting today, I can tell you that."
• With infielder Justin Turner carrying a .368 batting average into Tuesday's game, Collins said he is constantly looking for ways to insert Turner's bat into the lineup. To that end, the utility player has been tracking balls in left field on a regular basis, though Collins indicated he is unlikely to use Turner there any time soon.
• Top prospect Zack Wheeler submitted his best start of the season Tuesday for Triple-A Las Vegas, striking out eight batters over 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball at Reno. Wheeler walked only one batter, and now has 36 strikeouts against 16 walks in 30 innings. His ERA dropped to 4.80.