Murphy injury could throw infield back into flux
Mets await MRI results on infielder's left quad injury
PHOENIX -- No sooner did the Mets realign their infield defense than another injury threw it back into flux.
Daniel Murphy left Thursday's 6-2 win over to the Diamondbacks in the third inning due to tightness in his left quad. Murphy plans to have an MRI on Friday morning, at which point the Mets will determine whether his injury is severe enough to land him on the disabled list.
"Getting down the line, I felt it tighten up," Murphy said of his third-inning groundout. "That's about all I felt."
Earlier in the day, in an effort to improve their infield defense with David Wright sidelined, the Mets did what they vowed not to as recently as Tuesday: shift Murphy to third base and Ruben Tejada to second. The idea was to prevent three infielders from playing away from their natural positions, which Murphy's injury won't necessarily affect. But it may force the Mets to find a short-term replacement at third base, where Eric Campbell filled in Thursday and extended his hitless streak to 0-for-27. The team recently demoted another third baseman, Danny Muno, to Triple-A Las Vegas after an 0-for-14 stretch in the Majors.
Until second baseman Dilson Herrera returns from the DL, the Mets' options are slim. They can stick with Campbell or call up Muno, both of whom are mired in slumps. They can call up more-hyped prospect Matt Reynolds to play second base and shift Tejada to third, but Reynolds has also been scuffling at Las Vegas. They can purchase the contract of power-hitting Alex Castellanos from Vegas, though he has played mostly outfield this season and is in an 0-for-19 funk.
Given all that, the Mets' best option may be to cross their fingers and hope Murphy can recover quicker than expected. But because they are playing with a shorthanded bench to accommodate their six-man rotation, the Mets do not have the luxury of waiting long.
"If he is going to be out, if he is going to be on the DL, then you're on the DL for two weeks," Collins said. "It's pretty basic."
Regardless of who plays second and third, the Mets are holding firm on their desire to keep Wilmer Flores at shortstop. Collins said earlier Thursday that while he felt comfortable shifting Murphy and Tejada, moving Flores would create a media "firestorm" given the 22-year-old's previous defensive struggles. The Mets do not want to rattle Flores' psyche for what they still consider a temporary move, even if they don't know exactly when Wright will return.
Poor play from Flores could force the Mets' hand eventually, but he has committed just one error in his last 173 innings at shortstop since racking up nine in his first 253 1/3. So for now, he will continue to play the position every night.
"He's done fine," Collins said. "That's why I just want to leave him alone. The minute you move him, controversy starts. Then when you move him back, more controversy. We're trying to play baseball here and stay away from the back page."