PHOENIX -- LaTroy Hawkins is a reluctant closer. The 40-year-old reliever feels most comfortable in the eighth inning, but has been pitching the ninth because that is where the Mets need him most.
Luckily for Hawkins, he is not necessarily the Mets' closer. With regular ninth-inning man Bobby Parnell nursing a herniated disc in his neck that could require surgery, manager Terry Collins stressed Friday that he is "not committed to anybody" in the ninth.
So while Collins may continue turning to Hawkins for the immediate future, he may also turn back to David Aardsma, who blew his only save opportunity in Parnell's absence, or fellow right-hander Carlos Torres.
"A lot of it has to do with how certain right-handed hitters hit right-handed pitching and the kind of hitters they are," Collins said, explaining that Aardsma matches up better with some hitters due to his more explosive four-seam fastball.
Collins may also look to left-handers Scott Rice or Pedro Feliciano in the ninth inning if matchups dictate it. But for now, Hawkins appears to have the inside track for a role he does not necessarily want.
"When I saw the job that LaTroy did on so many occasions here in the last couple weeks in the eighth, where he's had to face the middle of the lineup and, gosh, got outs -- I mean easy outs -- I just thought maybe he's the guy that should be pitching the ninth inning," Collins said. "And so I went to him."
Wright not returning this season a possibility
PHOENIX -- Though the Mets still hope David Wright can return to active duty before the end of August, manager Terry Collins admitted Friday that there's a chance Wright will not play again this season.
"No question," Collins said when asked if Wright might not return from a strained right hamstring. "There's nothing etched in stone. We're hoping certainly that it's four weeks. If it's five, it's five. If it's six, it's six. If he gets back, tremendous. That means the healing process and all the rehab stuff will work. But there is absolutely no timetable at all."
Wright is currently taking part in a daily physical therapy regimen at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. Until he is ready to begin baseball activities -- and there is no timetable on that, either -- he will remain in New York.
At some point, Wright's rehab will progress to Port St. Lucie, Fla., where he will begin daily running, fielding and hitting drills. Only then will the Mets have a more concrete idea of when -- or if -- he might be able to return this season.
In the interim, Collins said, he will keep Wright out of his thoughts as much as possible. Clearly missing Wright's team-leading .309 batting average and .904 OPS, the Mets have averaged three runs per game since their captain landed on the disabled list.
"You can't worry about a month from now," Collins said. "All I've got to worry about is making sure those guys in there are ready to play, and that they play up to their capabilities, and we get them ready for tomorrow. And when David calls me and says, 'I'm ready to go,' [he] will be in the lineup. Book it."
d'Arnaud likely to fill in when Buck hits paternity list
PHOENIX -- John Buck and his wife, Brooke, have worn out the list of old wives' tales in an attempt to induce labor for the couple's third child. They have tried walking around Central Park for hours. They have tried eating spicy food. They have tried massages.
Nothing has worked, and so Buck traveled with the Mets to the West Coast this weekend, knowing he will turn around as soon as the baby arrives. Brooke's estimated due date was Aug. 1.
When the time comes, Buck plans to file for paternity leave, call a friend in Utah who owns a private plane, and hopefully head back east in style. The Mets, meanwhile, will almost certainly turn to No. 2 prospect Travis d'Arnaud, who -- thanks to a recent promotion -- is close by at Triple-A Las Vegas.
Sidelined for most of this season with a bone fracture in his foot, d'Arnaud should start regularly in Buck's absence, which can last up to three games. Then he will head back down to the Minors until September, when rosters expand.
Said manager Terry Collins: "If Travis d'Arnaud's here, he will be in the game."