Mets set to lose Walker to paternity leave

Mets set to lose Walker to paternity leave

PHOENIX -- The hottest hitter in the Mets' lineup could be on his way out of town.

Neil Walker's wife, Niki, is due to give birth to the couple's first child, a girl, on Tuesday in Pittsburgh, and the veteran second baseman is waiting on the call that will send him across the country and start a three-day paternity leave.

"I'll pretty much have my phone on me everywhere but second base," Walker said. "You try to bottle up those three hours any way you can. In between at-bats, I'll shoot in [the clubhouse] just to check my phone and make sure nothing is going on."

After going 3-for-5 with a homer in Monday's 10-6 Mets loss in the series opener against the D-backs, Walker is hitting .455 with two doubles, one triple, six home runs and 14 RBIs in 19 games since July 27. He's also scored 14 runs during that span.

"Obviously, when you are swinging the bat well, you want to continue to get as many at-bats as possible, but I certainly am not going to go blaming my newborn if I don't stay on fire," Walker joked. "I'll be mentally taking at-bats."

The secret to Walker's success is really no secret at all. He said he's been swinging at better pitches, using more of the field and making more contact.

"The confidence is where it's supposed to be, and hitting the ball hard is important, but usually when you are swinging the bat well, you are consistently hitting the ball hard and putting it in play and using the big part of the field," Walker said. "When I wasn't going well, I wasn't doing that. I was swinging and missing and expanding the zone, and that's how baseball works."

Additionally, Walker has eight home runs against left-handed pitchers this season. He had six career home runs against left-handed pitchers before this season.

"We've been planning on it for a while," Mets manager Terry Collins said of Walker's upcoming absence. "We'll just put somebody else out there and move on and he'll be back in a few days."

Worth noting

• Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes (quadriceps strain) and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera (left knee) are expected to join the team during this weekend's series against the Giants in San Francisco.

Cespedes, who began his rehab assignment on Monday with Class A Advanced St. Lucie as the designated hitter, will shift to left field for two more games before he is activated on Friday.

Cabrera is eligible to come off of the disabled list on Tuesday, but he will instead begin his rehab assignment as the designated hitter with St. Lucie. He's expected to play shortstop before rejoining the big league club.

• Outfielder Justin Ruggiano (left hamstring) began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Las Vegas on Monday and could also join the team sometime before the end of the month.

• Right-handed pitcher Logan Verrett, who was optioned to Las Vegas on Saturday, is still sore and will get a second opinion on his ailing neck, according Mets assistant general manager John Ricco.

Verrett complained of neck pain the day after his start on Friday and had an MRI exam. He allowed four home runs in 2 2/3 innings against the Padres in the outing and went 0-3 with a 7.18 ERA in seven starts after assuming Matt Harvey's spot in the rotation.

• Right-hander Zack Wheeler is expected to meet with Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday because of continued discomfort in his right elbow.

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.