CLEVELAND -- At 40 years old, LaTroy Hawkins has built up a fountain of wisdom since breaking into the big leagues nearly two decades ago.
Signed to a Minor League contract by the Mets during the offseason, Hawkins demonstrated during Spring Training that he was still capable of retiring batters. Across 62 appearances this season, the right-hander had a 3-2 record and 3.41 ERA entering Friday.
Mets manager Terry Collins said the reliever's positive influence extends far beyond what he does in games.
"It's been huge," Collins said. "He's one of the classic pro's pros. He knows how to get ready. He's willing to help, offers help. If you don't want it, he tips his hat and moves to the next guy. He does whatever it takes to help out down there."
In 60 2/3 innings, Hawkins had converted seven of 10 save opportunities entering Friday. He had 47 strikeouts against 10 walks, with a .275 opponents' average and a 1.24 WHIP.
The Mets, who entered Friday at 63-75, have moved past the idea of making the playoffs this season and are preparing for future years. Throughout the 2013 campaign, Hawkins has provided leadership qualities for the team's younger players. When New York asked him to pitch in the later innings, Hawkins did so willingly, despite that assignment not necessarily being what he hoped for.
"The young guys see that, that helps," Collins said. "It helps when you see a veteran just do his job."
Mets reliever Rice to have sports hernia surgery
CLEVELAND -- Scott Rice entered Friday with more appearances than any other pitcher in baseball. He won't get the chance to add to that total, however, as the Mets announced the left-hander would undergo season-ending surgery on a sports hernia.
Rice assembled a 3.71 ERA across 73 games with New York this season. Mets skipper Terry Collins said Rice had been pitching through his injury for the last several weeks.
"I know that each and every day he's had treatment," Collins said before Friday's series opener against the Indians. "Last week, it started to get worse. He came in before each game and got treatment. The other day in Atlanta, he came to me right at the start of the game and said, 'Listen, I'm OK. I'll keep it loose.'
"We actually thought it was a hip strain more than anything, but it got to the point where the discomfort was so large we had to have him checked. He's done. He's going to have to go have surgery."
After being drafted in 1999, Rice, a 31-year-old rookie, finally got a chance to pitch in the Majors this year. He became a valuable component of the Mets' bullpen, particularly against left-handed hitters, whom he held to a .174 batting average.
On the same day Rice's surgery became known, New York selected the contract of southpaw Sean Henn from Triple-A Las Vegas. In 51 games there, Henn went 3-5 with a 2.81 ERA.
In 51 total innings with the Mets, Rice had 41 strikeouts and 27 walks, with just one home run allowed. Rice's ability to keep the ball in the park impressed Collins, though the manager would like to see him cut down on his walks. Collins anticipates having Rice in the mix when Spring Training commences next year.
"He's had an outstanding year, just an outstanding year," Collins said. "He should be very proud. Fifteen years in the Minor Leagues. He certainly did a good job for us."
Mets add left-handed reliever Henn to roster
CLEVELAND -- Sean Henn seems to think there's more baseball in his past than there will be in his future.
But Henn -- who last pitched in the Majors in 2009 with the Orioles -- is not finished adding to his big league legacy. The Mets selected Henn's contract from Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday, the same day it was announced that southpaw reliever Scott Rice would have season-ending surgery on a sports hernia.
Henn, 32, built a 3-5 record and 2.81 ERA across 52 appearances with the 51s. Over 57 2/3 innings, he had 49 strikeouts and 32 walks.
"I'm throwing the ball well," Henn said Friday. "I'm just glad somebody noticed and gave me an opportunity."
The Yankees selected Henn in the 2000 First-Year Player Draft. He pitched for them from 2005-07, followed by a year with San Diego and an '09 campaign that was split between Minnesota and Baltimore. In 60 Major League appearances, Henn is 2-9 with a 7.56 ERA.
Mets manager Terry Collins said every one of his left-handed relievers will likely pitch in this weekend's series, considering the Indians have 10 hitters capable of batting left-handed (four of whom are switch-hitters).
"It's definitely nice to be back," Henn said. "If this is my last hurrah, I'd rather it be in a Major League uniform than a Minor League uniform.
"It's definitely an opportunity, and I'm going to try to show these guys what I got."
Quote to note
"For a while, they were pretty patient with their young pitching, because they like them so much. I can see why. It's a shame the other kid had the injury, because they're a pretty good young duo that they can build around in the future. They've got pretty good stuff."
-- Indians manager Terry Francona, on injured Mets pitcher Matt Harvey and rookie hurler Zack Wheeler
• Friday's game at Progressive Field is the Mets' eighth contest in an American League park this year. Lucas Duda was the designated hitter in two of the previous games, though Collins plans on keeping him at first base this weekend. Including Friday, Duda has played at first in five of the past eight games.
"He's just so much more comfortable in what he's doing defensively," Collins said. "He doesn't have the worries that he's going to hurt the club in the field, because he knows he can play first base."
The Mets recalled Duda from Triple-A Las Vegas on Aug. 24. In eight games since then, he's batted .381 (8-for-21) with two doubles, a homer and four RBIs entering Friday.
• Third baseman Wilmer Flores was held out of the Mets' lineup for the final two games in Atlanta but started on Friday in Cleveland, hitting ninth in the order.
"I know his ankle is doing much better," Collins said. "But, I just started to see his swing get a little long, so I thought he was getting tired. Maybe the days off will help him get some energy back."
• Daniel Murphy, who played second base and hit second on Friday, has hit in nine straight games, during which he's batted .459 (17-for-37). Juan Lagares, who played center field and batted seventh on Friday, has at least one hit in 10 straight starts. Dating back to Aug. 25, he has a .359 average (14-for-39).
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.