NEW YORK -- When the Mets recalled Wilmer Flores from Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday, they named him their starting shortstop with plans to try him out at the position for at least a week or two.
Instead, Flores' audition lasted a total of two days. Illness forced him out of the lineup on Sunday and Monday, giving Ruben Tejada an opportunity to steal the job right back.
"This guy has hit the ball on the barrel his last six at-bats," manager Terry Collins said, explaining why he started Tejada at shortstop for a third straight game on Tuesday. "If he didn't walk, he hit it square, hit it hard. He's played very, very well defensively. I don't necessarily know the reasons why. The perception would be he got a wake-up call, and that sometimes makes a big difference."
For the past two-plus seasons, Tejada has played without a real challenger at shortstop. He responded with some of the worst offensive numbers of any player in the big leagues.
Now, Flores' mere presence is a threat, and Tejada has responded with strong play on both sides of the ball. He hit a walk-off single in Sunday's win over the Phillies, going 3-for-8 with two walks on Sunday and Monday. Collins suspects that may not be a coincidence.
"He's put together back-to-back very good games, and I said we're going to run him out there again tonight," Collins said. "The only thing you can assume -- and you could be wrong -- is that Wilmer came in and all of a sudden he lost his job, and he said, 'I've got to win it back.' Maybe he just got refocused."
Asked if Tejada can reclaim his job for good with a continued strong run, Collins added: "No question about it."
Pre-June callups show Mets mean business
NEW YORK -- Over the past two seasons, the Mets established a clear blueprint for dealing with their top pitching prospects. The organization had little desire to call them up prior to the Super Two arbitration deadline, which typically comes and goes in June.
But the Mets leapt out of character this week in announcing that they planned to recall both Jacob deGrom and Rafael Montero from Triple-A Las Vegas. Both pitchers joined the team on Tuesday, though the Mets planned not to officially activate Montero until after Tuesday's game.
"We've been ridiculed at times for worrying about Super Twos and worrying about things down the road," manager Terry Collins said. "We're worried about winning."
The Mets feel those two pitchers represent their best chance to do so now. In Montero, they have a standout starting pitching prospect who will debut on Wednesday night against the Yankees. Dubbed "Little Pedro" by his teammates in homage of countryman Pedro Martinez, Montero said he has felt ready to pitch in the big leagues for a while.
"That's really what I work hard for and train for because it could happen at any moment," Montero said. "So I'm really glad the time is here."
In deGrom, the Mets believe they have a starting pitcher capable of seamlessly transitioning to bullpen work. Both pitchers received the call to the big leagues on Monday, flying together Tuesday morning on a commercial jet to New York City.
"I was surprised when they called me," deGrom said. "I didn't know if it would come as a reliever or a starter, which one it would be. I was thinking it would be a little later, but I'm really glad it happened now."
If the Mets have their way, those two will take this opportunity and run with it. Within a month or two, top-ranked prospect Noah Syndergaard could join them -- along with infielders Wilmer Flores and Eric Campbell, who both came up over the weekend -- in Flushing.
"All of the sudden, it brings energy to the clubhouse," Collins said. "They're very excited to be here. They had a long flight. You'd have never known it. They're flying a mile high right now, and some of the guys feed off that."
Collins to choose Mets' closer 'game by game'
NEW YORK -- Kyle Farnsworth is no longer the Mets' closer. He's simply one of many.
Manager Terry Collins said on Tuesday that his ninth-inning situation is "kind of game by game," naming Jose Valverde, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jeurys Familia as additional candidates to close out games.
Though that does not preclude Farnsworth from pitching the ninth, Collins said he is concerned by the 37-year-old reliever's recent workload. Farnsworth appeared in seven of the Mets' first 11 games in May, giving up runs in just two of them but working into jams on several other occasions. In Monday's 9-7 win over the Yankees, Lucas Duda needed to start a highlight-reel double play to prevent Farnsworth from blowing a save.
Those struggles have forced Collins to consider other options, though he would ultimately like to settle on a full-time closer soon.
"You can say that now, but in a little while, you've got to find your guy because you've got to set up your other guys," Collins said. "When you come to the ballpark, you can't have doubt in your mind. You've got to kind of come in your comfort zone saying, 'Hey, look, I know if we get the lead I'm going to pitch here.'"
Eventually, Collins said, Jenrry Mejia will also be a prime candidate to close. But Collins wants Mejia to grow comfortable with relief work again before inserting him into the ninth.
"As we move forward and we continue to talk about the back end of the bullpen, he's going to throw his name into the hat because he's got swing-and-miss stuff," Collins said. "That's what you like to see at that part of the game."