Ruggiano exits with minor hamstring strain

Ruggiano exits with minor hamstring strain

NEW YORK -- Justin Ruggiano left Monday's 6-5 loss in the series opener against the Yankees before the Mets took the field in the fourth inning because of a mild strain of his left hamstring. Ruggiano had grounded into a double play in the third inning.

He was replaced by Michael Conforto, who took over in left field while Alejandro De Aza slid over to center. Conforto went 1-for-2 with an RBI double off CC Sabathia -- only the fifth hit he's had off a left-handed pitcher this season (5-for-46) and the first extra-base hit.

Injuries to Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera and the trade of Antonio Bastardo to the Pirates for Jonathon Niese shortened the Mets' bench and bullpen before the game, and then Ruggiano's early exit forced New York to play even more shorthanded. The end result was the Mets being out of available bench players and relievers when the game went to extra innings.

Mets bring back Niese, send Bastardo to Bucs

"Your bench is short, so you try to get some double switches and get it so that the pitcher doesn't keep coming up and you have to burn guys off the bench," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "It's one of those parts of the game that can be tough, but you got to do it and you got to get through it."

Ruggiano was signed by New York on Saturday to provide the club with a right-handed bat who could play center field, a role vacated by Juan Lagares, who will undergo surgery to repair a partially torn ligament in his left thumb.

The 34-year-old Ruggiano has recorded one hit in six at-bats for the Mets. He batted .226 (37-for-164) with 10 doubles, seven home runs and 23 RBIs at Triple-A Round Rock before being released by Texas on Thursday.

Troy Provost-Heron is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.