CINCINNATI -- Between the end of Wednesday's game and the start of Thursday's, Mets manager Terry Collins scrawled out four different variations of his starting lineup -- anything to shake up an offense that has averaged 2.25 runs in eight games since returning from a successful West Coast trip.
The result was unlike any lineup the Mets have employed this season. Jason Bay was back in the starting nine, playing left field and batting seventh. Justin Turner played second base and hit one spot ahead of Bay, while Scott Hairston made a rare start against a right-handed pitcher, and an even rarer appearance in center field.
"I just thought maybe some guys needed to take a break," Collins said, referencing regular second baseman Daniel Murphy in particular, "and get some other guys in there who maybe are refreshed."
Saying he wants "to see if we can get some energy back," Collins indicated that he plans to rest both David Wright and Ike Davis at some point this weekend in D.C., as well.
Thursday's lineup also featured the debut of catcher Kelly Shoppach and a move back to the leadoff spot for shortstop Ruben Tejada, who hit second a day earlier. But perhaps its most distinguishing feature was the presence of Bay, who had started just one of the team's previous seven games and appeared in only three of them, amassing six at-bats.
No longer a regular player for the Mets, Bay has not recorded an extra-base hit since July 18.
"He's not necessarily happy, and I don't blame him," Collins said. "I wouldn't be either. It's the frustrations of the whole process that he's angry about. He just hasn't hit, so he's been put in this situation, and he understands it, totally. All he's done is done everything he can to get out of it. He's hit early. He's hit in the cages extra. So I thought I'd get him in there tonight."
Collins: Dickey's bracelets are 'not a big deal'
CINCINNATI -- A day later, Mets manager Terry Collins was still miffed about umpires forcing R.A. Dickey to remove two cloth bracelets from his left wrist during Wednesday's game.
"It didn't help that I got four texts last night with pictures of Felix Hernandez with a wristband on after a perfect game," Collins said. "Somebody didn't get the memo."
Collins' main contention was that umpires have been inconsistent in enforcing the rule, which prohibits pitchers from wearing wristbands of any sort on the mound. He drew Hernandez as an example because on the day the Mariners' ace threw a perfect game, he was sporting a more noticeable wristband than Dickey's.
"If you look around the league, there are all sorts of things that go unsupervised, whether it's a glove string that's too long or a Band-Aid that's on somebody's arm, or an earring," Dickey said. "It's almost like a holding penalty [in football]. You can call one on every play.
"We've seen lots of pitchers this year with those little magnetic things on their left wrist," Collins said. "Some guys have got chains, and some guys don't. It's not a big deal."
Citing a directive from the league, umpires approached Dickey in the second inning and asked him to remove two cloth friendship bracelets, which the knuckleballer's daughters had given him as a gift back in January. They then further upset Dickey by returning to the mound an inning later, delaying the game to explain that the demand had come from Major League Baseball, not the Reds.
"It's not something that sticks out," Collins said. "They were two stinking pieces of string. And yet other guys wear big things and nothing's done. I just don't understand."
Beato to Red Sox to complete Shoppach deal
CINCINNATI -- The Mets on Thursday formally completed the trade that netted them catcher Kelly Shoppach, assigning right-hander Pedro Beato to the Red Sox on a waiver claim.
Hours later, in his second game in uniform, Shoppach made his debut for the Mets. The eight-year veteran spent much of his pregame time at Great American Ball Park huddling around a computer with fellow catcher Josh Thole and bench coach Bob Geren, watching video.
"I just want to get him in there," manager Terry Collins said, explaining why he started the right-handed-hitting catcher against Reds' righty starter Homer Bailey, despite Shoppach's extreme platoon splits. "I want to start to get him to feel a part of the team, and we're not hitting. Let's see if we can get somebody in there who can maybe produce some runs."
Beato, 25, was an important part of New York's bullpen last season before fading down the stretch. Battling shoulder weakness, the former Rule 5 Draft pick did not break camp with the Mets this spring, later appearing in seven games for them and compiling a 10.38 ERA.
Collins said he does not envision Lucas Duda returning to the Mets as soon as early next week. But Duda has been tinkering with his stance at Triple-A Buffalo and should return by the time rosters expand on Sept. 1.
Top prospect Zack Wheeler struggled in his third start at Buffalo, allowing five runs in five innings Thursday against Lehigh Valley. But Wheeler, who has posted a 4.60 ERA over his first three Triple-A starts, also struck out five batters and walked none.