With Flores gone, Mets shorthanded up middle

With Flores gone, Mets shorthanded up middle

PITTSBURGH -- When the Mets activated center fielder Juan Lagares from the disabled list Thursday and sent shortstop Wilmer Flores to Triple-A Las Vegas, the focus turned to the presence of six outfielders on their roster -- and no true backup shortstop or second baseman.

The reasoning manager Terry Collins gave was the club wants Flores, a 22-year-old who struggled at the plate in the Majors, to be getting consistent at-bats. That's something he wasn't getting with New York.

"The rationale I thought, which I told Wilmer was, we all like Wilmer a lot and he proved he could play shortstop in the Major Leagues here," Collins said Thursday. "For him to be the player we all expect him to be, he has to play. He has to be in the lineup, and he's not getting the chance to be in the lineup."

In 25 appearances and 80 at-bats, Flores was scuffling with a .225/.253/.300 slash line and had almost as many strikeouts (17) as hits (18). While Flores didn't give the Mets much production with his bat, he did provide options in the middle infield.

That defensive presence, at least temporarily, is gone. Collins said he would use utility man Eric Campbell as a backup for shortstop Ruben Tejada. However, Collins said he would not feel comfortable using Campbell at shortstop in a double-switch scenario, and he is an emergency option at the position.

Campbell has played both corner-infield and outfield spots for the Mets this season, and has mainly been posted at third base and left field during his professional tenure. He did play two games at shortstop for Las Vegas earlier in 2014, committing two errors in two games.

Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.