NEW YORK -- Mets reliever Jon Rauch threw off the mound Friday morning four days after aggravating his right elbow in a Monday matinee against St. Louis, and he will be available out of the bullpen for the Subway Series opener at Yankee Stadium.
Rauch, who gave up two runs on two hits in two-thirds of an inning on Monday, was taken to the hospital following the appearance. He said the sensation he felt on Monday was unfamiliar -- Rauch had debris in his throwing elbow -- and that he initially shrugged it off as normal soreness.
"Everybody's going to have some kind of tenderness and some kind of soreness just because you're going through an unnatural arm motion," Rauch said. "For me, the first time experiencing anything with my elbow I just chalked it up as normal soreness, maybe aggravated it a little bit, but I didn't expect it to get where it did."
Strong outings by starters Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese against the Cardinals resulted in three straight games without an appearance for Rauch, who took the mound in all three games against the Phillies in the team's previous series.
Manager Terry Collins said establishing some consistency in his workload could help with both his health and effectiveness.
"We need to make sure we try to be a little bit more consistent with his outings," Collins said. "If he needs to stay more consistent we can certainly try to do that."
Bay returns to lineup after lengthy absence
NEW YORK -- Outfielder Jason Bay returned to the lineup Friday night against the Yankees after a six-week stint on the disabled list with a fractured left rib.
Bay hit in the eight spot in the lineup in his first appearance since April 23. He was activated by the team on Wednesday, but was held out of the game due to a sinus infection. Bay was scheduled to return on Thursday, but hewas scratched from the lineup less than hour before the game started.
Bay told reporters about three hours before game time that he felt fine, but not quite 100 percent.
After three rehab games with Class A Port St. Lucie, Bay said he feels ready to return and is focusing on transitioning back into a normal schedule.
"I just want to get back into the routine," Bay said. "I've kind of been away for so long that I just want to get out there and not have it be a novelty."
Manager Terry Collins said the decision to have Bay hit eighth was a combination of the outfielder's lengthy absence, as well as the recent hot hitting of Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy and Scott Hairston, who hit Nos. 4-6 on Friday night.
"He hasn't played in a couple of days, really hasn't played a lot in the past six weeks," Collins said. "I called him in and asked him if he had an issue with it and he did not, so that's the way we went."
Quintanilla playing with fractured finger
NEW YORK -- If nothing else, the Mets have a blueprint in place for players battling through fractured fingers.
Shortstop Omar Quintanilla is the latest to attempt to play through one, after an X-ray taken Friday revealed a fracture in his left index finger. Just as David Wright has done throughout the past two months, Quintanilla plans to play through the discomfort.
"Especially when you're going to play the Yankees, it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing," Quintanilla said prior to Friday's Subway Series opener. "I'll go out there and grind it out and help the team with whatever I can do."
Injuring the finger while diving for a ball in Wednesday's game against the Nationals, Quintanilla played the following day before learning of the fracture. And he was in the starting lineup again on Friday, mostly because the Mets have no other healthy, viable options at shortstop.
Starter Ruben Tejada is back in Florida receiving rest and treatment on his strained right quad, and he is nowhere near a return to the Mets. Backup Ronny Cedeno is scheduled to ramp up his running program this weekend as he attempts to work his way back from a strained left calf. And third-string shortstop Justin Turner still has at least two weeks left in his recovery from a sprained right ankle.
That leaves Quintanilla, who reached base three times and made several fine defensive plays Thursday despite his finger.
"I don't know how much it's going to affect him," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "It's in the tip of his finger. We've got a pad on him. We've got a guard he wears in his glove. You saw it didn't really seem to affect him yesterday, so basically [it will take] time."
"My test was yesterday, and I was able to play through the games," Quintanilla said. "So I think I'm pretty good."
Baxter gaining popularity with Mets fans
NEW YORK -- Mike Baxter was walking, minding his own business in Bayside, Queens, earlier this week when a stranger called out to him: "Hey man, nice catch!"
It seems Baxter has garnered a bit of celebrity since making the catch that preserved Johan Santana's no-hitter last Friday at Citi Field. A once-anonymous outfielder who broke camp with the Mets as a fifth outfielder, the Queens native has become quite popular with the team's local fan base over the past week.
Of course, the catch also cost Baxter his health, displacing his right collarbone and shelving him for approximately six weeks. The outfielder returned to the clubhouse Friday to catch up with teammates and spend some time away from his apartment, where doctors have prevented him from doing any sort of physical activity.
As for the sudden fame, Baxter said, "It's died down a little bit." But his place in franchise history remains.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. Adam Rosenbloom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.