NEW YORK -- Shortstop Ruben Tejada returned to the Mets' clubhouse at Citi Field on Friday and continued his rehab from a strained right quad injury.

Tejada ran in the outfield, hit in the batting cage and fielded ground balls.

Manager Terry Collins said Tejada will run the bases Saturday and will play in rehab games early next week if he recovers well from his baserunning sessions.

Mets get Thole back from DL with no limitations

NEW YORK -- The Mets activated Josh Thole from the disabled list before Friday's game against the Cardinals, and there are no limitations on the catcher, who was immediately back in the lineup and hitting seventh at Citi Field.

To make room on the roster, the Mets optioned catcher Rob Johnson to Triple-A Buffalo, where Thole caught nine innings Thursday and went 1-for-4.

It was one of only two rehab games for Thole, who landed on the DL May 8 after sustaining a concussion during a collision at home plate with Phillies infielder Ty Wigginton. He hit .284 with one home run and seven RBIs in 26 games before the injury, and manager Terry Collins said Thole will start at least three of this weekend's four games against St. Louis.

Mike Nickeas remains as Thole's backup, while Johnson returns to Buffalo, where he started the season before Thole's injury. Johnson hit .313 in 11 games in New York.

"Rob played very well here, but with bringing Josh back, we want to make sure our catching stays as strong as it can be, so we wanted him to play," Collins said. "We don't want him sitting on the bench five days a week. I thought one of the reasons he played so well was he got playing time here. With Josh back, he's not going to get much."

Mets call up Ramirez, designate Schwinden

NEW YORK -- Reliever Elvin Ramirez received his first callup to the big leagues Friday, a little more than a year after undergoing shoulder surgery. He was in the Mets' bullpen for their series opener against the Cardinals at Citi Field.

The Mets designated right-hander Chris Schwinden for assignment to create room on the roster for Ramirez, who struck out 19 batters and walked one over 14 2/3 innings of scoreless ball for Triple-A Buffalo. He started the year at Double-A Binghamton, where he allowed two runs in 13 innings.

"The only thing I can tell you is that I'm ready to do this," Ramirez said. "I have to do my best to stay here for a long time."

The Nationals selected Ramirez in the 2010 Rule 5 Draft, but they returned him to New York after that season, and he missed all of 2011 after right rotator cuff and labrum surgery.

Manager Terry Collins will get his first real look at Ramirez since then, when Ramirez was a hard-throwing right-hander who struggled with his command. Ramirez lost some velocity on his mid-90s fastball since surgery, Collins said, but improved his command.

"If I can, I'll ease him in, but you want to get him in there while he's hot," Collins said. "We'll see what transpires tonight and where his best fit will be."

Hefner could start Saturday if weather is poor

NEW YORK -- Manager Terry Collins expects to do some rotation shuffling in the next week, and it could start as early as Saturday with Jeremy Hefner and scheduled starter R.A. Dickey, depending on the weather.

With Miguel Batista and Chris Young nearing returns from the disabled list, Collins said Hefner is not a lock to make his next scheduled start Monday, but he could fill in for Dickey against the Cardinals on three days' rest Saturday if the expected rain arrives.

"We are going to watch the weather very closely for tomorrow and see what it's going to be," Collins said. "If we're going to play in a downpour tomorrow, we have to decide whether or not that's the best conditions for R.A. to go out in."

Collins said Young may have made his last rehab start after pitching six scoreless innings for Triple-A Buffalo on Thursday, and Batista is eligible to return Monday. He will not use a six-man rotation once the pair returns, instead choosing between the two and Hefner for the final rotation spot.

Bay getting close to returning from DL

NEW YORK -- Manager Terry Collins said outfielder Jason Bay is nearing a return to the Mets, with plans to serve as the designated hitter this weekend in extended spring games in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Collins is hopeful Bay will play the field Monday -- six weeks removed from sustaining a non-displaced fractured rib diving for a fly ball against the Giants.

"He doesn't need to play many," Collins said. "He has a lot of work done while he's been down there on the defensive side. If he can gain that game defensively, he'll be here very, very soon after that."