ATLANTA -- What an unlucky coincidence for Justin Turner that the scuffling infielder's injury comes now, with the Mets scheduled to face four left-handed starting pitchers in their next six games. In the midst of an 8-for-50 slump that has lowered his average more than 110 points, Turner would have had a chance to start most days in the infield.
Instead, he will rest this week in Atlanta before flying to Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Friday to begin his rehab. The Mets officially placed Turner on the disabled list Tuesday with a strained left intercostal muscle, sidelining him for at least 15 days. Receiving an ultrasound-guided cortisone shot Monday in New York, he is currently waiting for its effects to kick in.
"Those intercostals, I think it will only be 15 days," manager Terry Collins said, referencing what has become a common injury at the highest levels of baseball. "He did get an injection, but you just never know. It's the injury of the 2000s. Nobody knows how long they're going to take."
Turner said he felt a pull in his side during batting practice a few days ago and has not seen any improvement since then. The Mets did not replace him on the roster with another infielder, instead activating reliever Scott Atchison from the 15-day disabled list. Collins' hope is that the Mets will be able to use a short-handed bench through next week's series against the White Sox in Chicago, at which point they will cut a reliever in favor of a middle infielder.
But such plans depends upon the health and performance of the Mets' other infielders. Turner had proven to be a valuable piece for the Mets because of his versatility, starting games at all four infield positions and even once in left field.
"We probably need to take a look at it here in the next couple days," Collins said of his roster. "We'll get a very good idea with the doubleheader today how it fits, and then we'll make a decision here in the next couple of days if we need another position player."
Atchison likely headed back to DL with groin injury
ATLANTA -- Fresh off the disabled list, Scott Atchison was prepared to help the Mets immediately. He jogged out of the bullpen during the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader at Turner Field, climbed atop the mound, threw three warmup pitches ... then walked off limping.
The official diagnosis was a sore right groin, which Atchison first experienced as he delivered his warmups. Considering the Mets' plan to recall Andrew Brown from Triple-A Las Vegas prior to Wednesday's game, a return trip to the DL is a near-certainty for Atchison.
"I don't even know if I can put it into words," Atchison said of his disappointment, after spending more than a full month on the DL with right elbow tendinitis. "I felt good. I haven't had any problems. My arm felt great. And then to have that, it's just disheartening."
For the better part of a calendar year, Atchison has been dealing with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow, avoiding surgery as he pitched through it. He hit the DL last month after a bone spur in the joint caused the bout of tendinitis.
Atchison understands that without surgery, his right elbow will never be fully healthy. But he also knows that with proper management, he can pitch in the big leagues at less than 100 percent -- at least assuming the rest of him is healthy.
"He told me that basically he's got to be more upfront with how he's feeling," manager Terry Collins said before Tuesday's doubleheader. "I said, 'If you feel a little something, take a day off and it will be fine.'"
Neither Collins nor Atchison envisioned a non-arm injury derailing those plans.
Regardless, with Atchison almost certainly back on the DL, the Mets can re-balance their roster -- they had been playing with a short bench -- by recalling Brown. That will give them a five-man bench and a seven-man bullpen.
That balance is also made possible thanks to Tuesday's doubleheader. Because teams are allowed to use 26-man rosters for previously-scheduled doubleheaders, Zack Wheeler made his debut in Game 2 as that extra man. The Mets then optioned him back to Las Vegas after the game, with plans for him to meet the Triple-A team in Tucson, Ariz. There, he will throw a bullpen session under the watchful eyes of Triple-A pitching coach Randy St. Claire, before meeting the Mets back in Chicago for his next start on Tuesday against the White Sox.
At that time, the Mets will likely cut a reliever from their roster and bump one of their other starting pitchers -- Jeremy Hefner, Dillon Gee or Shaun Marcum -- to the bullpen.
Mets top Draft pick Smith set to sign contract
ATLANTA -- One day after Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler gave Mets fans a glimpse of their future, the team plans to cement another brick of that plan in place.
First-round Draft pick Dominic Smith will officially sign with the Mets on Wednesday, the first baseman confirmed via his Twitter account late Tuesday night. The deal is for a reported $2.6 million, just below Major League Baseball's slot recommendation of $2.8 million. The Mets can use that discrepancy to sign other Draft picks.
Smith also indicated that he will report on Wednesday to his first professional team, likely the Gulf Coast League Mets.
"I want to thank all the Mets fans for welcoming me with open arms!" Smith tweeted. "I love NYC, the Mets, & this organization! You guys are amazing as well!"
The 11th overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft, Smith hit .493 with seven home runs and 38 RBIs as a senior for Serra (Calif.) High School. He is known for his left-handed power stroke, strong throwing arm -- Smith was also a pitcher at Serra -- and smooth glove at first.
Wright collects 1,500th career hit in victory
ATLANTA -- Considering David Wright is already the Mets' all-time hits leader, every milestone from here is simply gravy.
The latest occurred Tuesday evening, when Wright rapped out a ninth-inning single for his 1,500th career hit. That extended his franchise lead and moved him into a tie for 593rd place all time.
"It's a lot of hits -- at least I think it is," Wright said, laughing. "It's nice. Time flies, it really does. Seems like yesterday I got my first, and then I got the ball for my 500th, and then 1,000th, and now 1,500th. So it's pretty cool."
Wright, 30, is already the franchise leader in hits, doubles, extra-base hits, runs scored, RBIs, strikeouts and walks. By the end of his eight-year contract, he should also lead the Mets in home runs, at-bats and plate appearances, among other statistical categories.