NEW YORK (AP) — The struggling Mets are finally starting to get healthier. They just hope their hitters return in time to salvage the season.
Jose Reyes was back in the leadoff spot Saturday night, activated from the disabled list before New York’s game against San Diego. The speedy switch-hitter played shortstop in place of Asdrubal Cabrera, sidelined since Aug. 1 with a strained tendon in his left knee.
Cabrera is making progress, however, and the team hopes he can return next weekend in San Francisco, manager Terry Collins said.
Collins sounded even more confident about slugger Yoenis Cespedes coming off the DL when he’s eligible on Friday. Cespedes has been out since Aug. 4 with a strained right quadriceps and is scheduled to begin playing rehab games Monday with Class A St. Lucie.
It was welcome news for a Mets team that later snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the Padres 3-2 in 11 innings. Reyes drew a walk in the first and came around to score.
Ranked 29th out of 30 major league clubs in runs, the defending NL champions (58-58) are 2 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the league’s second wild card. They are 11-20 since Cespedes first got injured on July 8.
“Those guys cannot get back at a better time,” Collins said. “We need `em. We need their leadership, besides their playing ability.”
New York also called up right-hander Gabriel Ynoa from Triple-A Las Vegas to provide a potential long man in a bullpen that threw 6 1/3 perfect innings Friday night.
Ynoa, who was 10-5 with a 4.42 ERA as a starter in the minors, pitched a perfect inning to win his major league debut.
“If you want something in life and you put your mind to it, you can accomplish it. I was very emotional today to have this opportunity,” he said through a translator.
Right-hander Logan Verrett and infielder Matt Reynolds were optioned to Triple-A. Verrett, who had been filling in for injured starter Matt Harvey, lost his spot in the rotation Friday night after allowing a career-high eight runs — including four homers — in 2 2/3 innings of an 8-6 loss to the Padres.
Left-hander Jonathon Niese is now scheduled to take that next turn in the rotation Wednesday night at Arizona. It would be Niese’s first start for the Mets since he was reacquired from Pittsburgh at the Aug. 1 trade deadline.
“Hopefully, he can give us those quality innings that we’re going to need as we finish up the last couple months,” Collins said.
Reyes went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and is hitting .225 with three homers and eight RBIs in 71 at-bats. He had been sidelined since July 27 with a strained muscle on his left side and played a pair of rehab games at third base with Class A Brooklyn, going 2 for 6 with a double, three runs, two walks and two stolen bases.
“His energy’s going to bring something here,” Collins said.
Released by Colorado this season after serving a domestic-violence suspension, Reyes joined the Mets in early July and initially shifted from his natural shortstop position to third base to fill in for injured captain David Wright.
Cespedes worked out Saturday and is expected to be the designated hitter for St. Lucie on Monday. Then he would play the outfield in the following days, Collins said.
“We’ve talked to him on the phone and he said, `I’ll see you Thursday in San Francisco,”‘ Collins said.
When the outfielder returns, Collins said he might try to keep playing Cespedes in left field rather than center to protect his legs.
Cabrera ran and took grounders and batting practice Saturday. He could begin playing minor league rehab games Tuesday, Collins said.
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