PITTSBURGH -- After maintaining for days that Ike Davis would play this week's entire series against the Pirates, Mets manager Terry Collins benched his first baseman against Erik Bedard in Monday's opener, noting that "besides trying to make sure we have patience with Ike, we're also trying to win baseball games."
Collins centered that decision mostly around the fact that left-handed batters are hitting .161 against the lefty Bedard this season, compared to a .280 mark for right-handed batters. But the manager also acknowledged that he does not want the slumping Davis to face an unfavorable situation.
"When you've got a guy who's dominating left-handed hitters and you've got a guy who's struggling, that's a bad match," Collins said of Bedard and Davis. "The worst thing I want to do is put this guy in a situation where he's going to fail."
A day earlier, Collins indicated for the first time that the Mets would consider sending Davis to the Minors if he continues to scuffle. But before going to that extreme, Collins said, the team owed it to Davis to give him the longest possible opportunity to keep his job. Specifically, that meant starting Davis against Bedard on Monday, then again on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Collins changed his mind. In addition to the poor statistical matchup against Bedard, Davis is battling a head cold that he downplayed Monday afternoon.
"Everyone gets sick," the first baseman said, noting that he actually boasts a higher average against left-handed pitchers than right-handers this season. "You still have to play."
"You never know when it's going to happen, when he's going to all of the sudden get it centered and make that solid contact," Collins said. "The thing with Ike is, they're all looking for home runs. I'm just looking for that good swing that we know he's got. The home runs will come."
Davis is batting .163 in 135 at-bats this season, with the second-worst on-base percentage (.221) among qualified players. Despite five homers, his .304 slugging percentage also ranks sixth-worst in the National League.
"Ike Davis is a strong-willed, strong-minded guy," Collins said. " You talk to anybody who's ever played this game at any level, the one thing we've all talked about is that sometimes, this game is going to humble you. Who knows when, who knows how bad it's going to be, but it's going to humble you. And so how are you going to fight it? How are you going to get through it?"
The options for Davis are clear: either he must start producing immediately, or risk a demotion. He understands that as well as anyone.
"Everyone here can get sent down besides, like, maybe three people," Davis said. "That's the way it is. That's life."
Thole, Bay joining Tejada in Florida for rehab
PITTSBURGH -- A trio of injured Mets are edging closer to returns, with catcher Josh Thole and outfielder Jason Bay both traveling to Florida on Monday to ramp up their rehab.
Thole, who has been on the disabled list since May 8 with a concussion, will begin baseball activities this week at the team's Spring Training complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla. He could appear behind the plate in a Minor League game by early next week.
"He's accomplished all of the running and the biking to get the blood pressure to see if there's any headaches," manager Terry Collins said. "There's none. So now we'll start the next stage."
Bay also left for Florida on Monday after testing his fractured left rib with soft-toss swings in Toronto and Pittsburgh. Bay will take regular batting practice for the first time Wednesday, putting him on track for a return around the end of the month.
Shortstop Ruben Tejada, who has been on the DL since May 7 with a right quad strain, has already been in Florida for more than a week. Tejada increased his running program Monday and, barring any setbacks, could rejoin the Mets as soon as this weekend.
Utility player Rottino called up from Buffalo
PITTSBURGH -- Needing to restore their bench to full strength, the Mets recalled utility player Vinny Rottino from Triple-A Buffalo on Monday, one day after placing starting pitcher Miguel Batista on the disabled list. Right-hander Chris Schwinden, who was called up Sunday in case the club needed an extra pitcher, was optioned back to Buffalo to make room for Rottino.
After playing mostly the outfield earlier this season, Rottino had started at catcher the past two days at Buffalo. That came on direct request from manager Terry Collins, who is still concerned about backup catcher Rob Johnson's jammed left thumb.
"His thumb is still pretty sore," Collins said, referencing Johnson's start behind the plate Sunday in Toronto. "You could see there were certain balls yesterday he really had a tough time catching because of the thumb."
This will be Rottino's second stint in the big leagues this season, after the utility player went 0-for-4 in three games earlier this month. Rottino -- who played catcher, first base, third base and all three outfield positions for the Mets in Spring Training -- gives Collins a fifth bench player. The Mets played two games this weekend with a shortened bench in an American League park.
The 32-year-old was hitting .307 (43-for-140) with four home runs in 36 games for the Bisons, hitting three of those homers on Saturday. Along with his three big league appearances this season, Rottino played in eight games with the Marlins last season and 18 with the Brewers from 2006-08.
Schwinden is 0-1 with an 11.25 ERA in two big league starts this season. He allowed five earned runs in four innings of in each of his two outings, the last of which came on May 2.
Mets' Cedeno reunites with Pirates pals
PITTSBURGH -- Monday marked a homecoming of sorts for Ronny Cedeno, who spent his last three seasons in Pittsburgh, starting at shortstop for the Pirates in 2010 and '11.
Cedeno remains close to Pirates outfielder Jose Tabata, whom he considers one of his best friends in baseball, as well as Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker.
"It's fun," Cedeno said of his reunion. "But we've got to play baseball the same. It's nothing different."
Cedeno did not anticipate being booed the way relievers Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch were last weekend in Toronto -- though he did not rule it out, either. He said he was not booed when he returned to Chicago for the first time in 2009, after playing his first four big league seasons with the Cubs.
Collins 'impressed' by umpire's apology
PITTSBURGH -- Mets manager Terry Collins received a surprise Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre, when umpire Brian Knight approached him to apologize for a critical blown call in Saturday's game. Knight sought out Collins after incorrectly ruling Mike Baxter out at second base on a would-be double, dousing the Mets' most promising opportunity in a two-run game.
"That doesn't happen very often," Collins said of Knight's apology. "I was pretty impressed by that."
Collins' main contention was that Knight should have asked for help on the play from the first-base umpire, who had a better view of shortstop Yunel Escobar's phantom tag. But Knight told Collins that he was not allowed to seek assistance from another umpire, leaving Collins in a rage.
Had Knight ruled Baxter safe at second, the Mets would have had two runners in scoring position with just one out. As it was, they had a runner on third with two outs, and lost the game to the Blue Jays moments later.
"Nothing needs to be said," Collins said. "We all know what the result was, and it's past us. There's nothing we can do about it now."