NEW YORK -- If nothing else, the Mets have plenty of ninth-inning options should Kyle Farnsworth falter as closer.
Manager Terry Collins threw another name into the mix on Wednesday, saying that he could envision Daisuke Matsuzaka closing in the future. The issue is that the Mets want Matsuzaka to remain somewhat stretched out in case they need him to join the rotation, but Collins also considers him valuable at the end of games.
"We wrestle with trying to keep them long, ready to start a game," Collins said of such relievers as Matsuzaka and Carlos Torres, "yet using them as their versatility dictates in shorter roles."
Another closer candidate is Vic Black, the organization's primary contingency plan behind Bobby Parnell heading into Spring Training. But Black's struggles this spring resulted in a demotion to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he has succeeded despite significant wildness. Black is unscored upon in 7 1/3 innings for the 51s, but he has also walked seven batters.
Collins suggested that Black won't earn a callup until his control improves.
"We're keeping tabs on him," Collins said. "I look at those stats every day."
Eventually, prospects Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom could also enter the ninth-inning shuffle, though the Mets hope it doesn't come to that any time soon. In a perfect world, Farnsworth will keep the job for as long as he is able at age 38. He is 1-for-1 in save opportunities since assuming closing duties last weekend.
To spark offense, Collins shuffles outfield, lineup
NEW YORK -- Attempting to emerge from their teamwide offensive woes, the Mets sported a new look atop their lineup on Wednesday night, batting Kirk Nieuwenhuis leadoff and giving Eric Young Jr. a routine day of rest.
As promised, however, manager Terry Collins did not move slumping outfielder Curtis Granderson, slotting him second ahead of David Wright for the fourth consecutive game.
Granderson, who entered the night in a career-long 0-for-22 funk, has spent significant time working on his stance and swing this week with hitting coach Dave Hudgens, but the Mets are wary of overreacting to a three-week slump by altering his mechanics too much.
"I don't want to start changing somebody," Collins said. "This guy, this is what he's done. This is what got him here. You start tinkering a little bit, you can really mess him up.
"Due to the fact that we've never really seen him, we didn't study him that much. So what we've tried to do is get as much tape and film and try to compare what's going on now with the past, so we have an idea of maybe when he's coming out of it. But there are really no givens, things that you can see with the naked eye."
As for Nieuwenhuis, Collins simply wanted to give the center fielder some extra playing time to keep him sharp. Young had played every inning of the first 20 games, necessitating a rest, and Nieuwenhuis went into the game with a brief history against Cardinals starter Michael Wacha.
"I just thought tonight would be a good night to get [Nieuwenhuis] in there," Collins said. "[Wacha] can be awfully tough on anyone, but Nieuwey's faced him, so I thought I'd get him in there."
• Major League Baseball made a scoring change to the Mets' April 19 game against the Braves, taking a hit from Daniel Murphy and charging Atlanta second baseman Dan Uggla with an error. The change shaved 13 points off Murphy's batting average.
• The Mets and PIX11 will host their eighth annual Weather Education Day prior to Thursday's series finale against the Cardinals. The team has invited 8,000 students from the tristate area to receive a pregame meteorology lesson from PIX11 weather experts Mr. G and Linda Church, who will discuss some of the region's recent extreme weather.