SAN DIEGO -- A day after losing a game in which the lack of a left-handed bench option hurt them, the Mets made a move Thursday to correct that roster imbalance. The team recalled first baseman Dominic Smith from Triple-A Syracuse and placed pitcher Steven Matz on the injured list due to radial nerve discomfort in his left arm. Matz’s IL stint is retroactive to Sunday.
The Mets examined Matz after he complained of arm pain last weekend, but did not initially place him on the IL because the diagnosis was mild enough that they hoped he could pitch Tuesday in Washington. Although Matz is progressing well from his injury, according to a source, the team opted to schedule him to start next Thursday against the Nationals instead.
Doing so allowed them to clear a roster spot for Smith, who played just two games for Syracuse after the Mets demoted him last Friday. Reportedly blindsided by the demotion to Triple-A, Smith was batting .333 with an .859 OPS in the Majors, mostly as a bench bat. Six of Smith’s 10 hits had come off the bench as a pinch-hitter or defensive substitute.
After Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Padres, manager Mickey Callaway admitted he could have used Smith in the later innings. With an entirely right-handed bench at his disposal, Callaway watched Todd Frazier strike out on three pitches against righty reliever Gerardo Reyes in the seventh inning, and he twice declined to pinch-hit for backup catcher Tomas Nido with key runners in scoring position.
“That would have been nice,” Callaway said afterward, when asked about not having a lefty on his bench. “But we have confidence in all of our guys. We have to get it done.”
Third baseman Jed Lowrie, due back from the IL, will reportedly remain at Syracuse through the weekend to receive more plate appearances on his rehab assignment.
Matz, 27, was 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA prior to landing on the injured list. He received a shot of cortisone and lidocaine earlier this week, and the Mets expect him to be back to full strength soon.