NEW YORK -- Almost immediately after Anthony Swarzak felt a tug in his left oblique during the Mets' 6-2 win over the Cardinals on Saturday at Citi Field, his effectiveness diminished. Matt Carpenter homered. Marcell Ozuna hit a deep fly ball. Jose Martinez drew a walk.
At that point, Swarzak called for trainer Brian Chicklo, who conferenced with the Mets' reliever on the mound. Although Swarzak was not in serious pain, he departed with a bout of oblique soreness that manager Mickey Callaway called somewhat concerning.
"I'm going to be optimistic," Swarzak said. "I'm not panicking at this point. We've got to see what's going on. Hopefully, I'll feel better tomorrow and this is just a little scare."
One of the key pieces of New York's bullpen makeover, Swarzak entered Saturday's game with two men on base and one out in the seventh inning, striking out pinch-hitter Greg Garcia en route to escaping that jam. He then sat in the Mets' dugout as their offense sent six batters to the plate in the bottom of the inning, returning to whiff Tommy Pham in the top of the eighth.
It was either on his final pitch to Pham, or on his first pitch to the next batter, Carpenter, that Swarzak began experiencing oblique pain. By the time Martinez drew his walk, Swarzak was convinced it wasn't going to dissipate.
"After seeing the results of those two guys, trying to battle through a little discomfort, a home run and a walk -- I can't do that to the team," Swarzak said. "It was time to call someone out there and get a pitcher in."
Swarzak's hope is that a night of rest will be all he needs to shake the injury. He didn't have any tests scheduled as of Saturday afternoon, though Callaway indicated the right-hander could receive some Sunday morning.
Even in a best-case scenario, however, the Mets will be cautious. Oblique injuries tend to linger; strains often require six to eight weeks to heal. A few days away from the mound, or even a quick 10-day disabled list stint, would be preferable to exacerbating what's currently a minor issue.
"You have to be cautious with him," Callaway said.
After posting a 2.33 ERA in 70 games for the White Sox and Brewers last season, Swarzak signed a two-year, $14-million contract with the Mets in December. He missed time this spring due to a left calf strain, but he has been on the DL just once in the past five seasons.
"I've never felt anything like this in my side before," Swarzak said. "I've not really been an injury-prone person, so between the calf thing in Spring Training and now this, I'm just trying to take it one day at a time and see how I feel tomorrow. I'm not a doctor. I really don't know."