One day after left fielder Jason Bay returned from his Spring Training injury, the Mets placed Angel Pagan on the 15-day DL with a strained left oblique muscle and a pain that is all too familiar to the Mets. Pagan sustained the injury taking a swing in the fifth inning of Thursday's win over the Astros.
"After I woke up, I felt a little bit more sore than last night," Pagan said before Friday's series opener against the D-backs. "And that's not a good sign."
The Mets, who have no immediate plans for Pagan except for rest until the pain subsides, called up outfielder Jason Pridie and started him in center field. Pridie appeared with the Twins in 11 games between 2008-09. After the Mets claimed him off waivers from Minnesota in 2010, Pridie has played mostly for Triple-A Buffalo.
"Of course, I don't want to be on the DL. I've been there before," Pagan said. "At the same time, there's nothing I can do. It's something that the team decided. I just have to go stay tough, go do my treatment as soon as I can and come back strong for the team."
Pagan had struggled this season, hitting .159 with a .259 on-base percentage in 82 plate appearances. Bay missed about a month with his oblique injury.
"We just don't think that he'll be ready in the four or five days that maybe we'll be willing to play short," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. "But given these injuries and our experience we've had with them, even this season, the likelihood is it's going to be more than five to six days. So we needed someone in center field tonight, so that's where we are.
"These injuries are very hard to predict," Alderson added. "They generally take longer than anyone originally expects. So I think that for the first few days, until the discomfort disappears, there will be limited activity."
Mets manager Terry Collins said he would not move Carlos Beltran, who agreed to move to right field in Spring Training, back to center while Pagan is out.
"No, I would not do that to him," Collins said. "I told him the first day in Spring Training when the decision was going to be made that if he was going to be the right fielder, that I would not put him back in center field. I would let him go play right field and we'll go from there. He agreed to it and said he understood. The one thing I don't want to do is take a guy of his caliber, of his credentials, and jack him around a little bit."
Collins said he added Pridie for his defense, which came highly praised from the staff in Triple-A.
"I just think it's really, really important," Collins said of center-field defense. "With our pitching staff, we've got to catch the baseball. I know Jason is a really excellent defender. They said Pridie would be the guy for them. So we went with that."
Catcher Ronny Paulino was the latest Mets player to suffer an oblique injury on Friday during a rehab stint at Buffalo. The Mets aren't the only team to be plagued by oblique injuries this season.
Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria has missed time with the injury, and the frequency of pain around the rib cage is taking baseball managers and executives by surprise.
"Twenty-five years ago, we never saw this injury," Collins said. "It didn't exist. But we also know that there is something that can linger, linger and linger if it's not taken care of."
"I'm not a doctor, I'm not a trainer, I'm not a physical therapist," Alderson said. "But when musculature is more highly developed and finely tuned, there's probably a likelihood that these things can occur more frequently. That's the price you pay for highly skilled and highly conditioned athletes."
"We were too fat before," Collins said. "These guys are too strong today. Ever since the importance on the strength and conditioning, the strong core, I'm telling you what, they're everywhere."
Thomas Boorstein is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.