On-Base Perception

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Terry Collins inserts Rob Johnson into lineup

Philadelphia Phillies' Cliff Lee hits an RBI single

Philadelphia Phillies' Cliff Lee hits an RBI single off Mets starting pitcher Dillon Gee in the second inning. At right is Mets catcher Rob Johnson. (May 9, 2012) (Credit: AP)

PHILADELPHIA — Terry Collins began the process of incorporating veteran catcher Rob Johnson into the lineup Wednesday night by starting him against Phillies lefthander Cliff Lee.

The Mets manager knows Josh Thole (concussion) is out for an undetermined amount of time. So Johnson, whom the Mets signed in the offseason, will share the job with Mike Nickeas.

Johnson, 29, went into last night with a career .197 average in four seasons with Seattle and one with San Diego. Nickeas, also 29, is a career .195 hitter, all with the Mets.

“Once again, we ask the guys who are going in there to pick up the slack and step up,” Collins said. “They both can catch. We know that. But they’ve got to do some things offensively for us.”

Down on the farm

Top prospect Matt Harvey threw six shutout innings for Triple-A Buffalo on Tuesday. While the Mets were pleased with the numbers, team brass didn’t consider the outing dominant, which is what it would take for them to consider changing the timetable on promoting Harvey to the majors. The Mets plan for the 23-year-old to spend most of the season at Triple-A in his first exposure to the minors’ highest level.

Jenrry Mejia pitched five innings Wednesday for St. Lucie (A) in his first outing since undergoing Tommy John surgery a year ago. Mejia allowed two runs on four hits with two walks and one strikeout.

Ronny Cedeno (rib-cage strain) played nine innings in extended spring training and is expected to do the same Thursday before the Mets decide whether to activate him for Friday’s series opener against the Marlins in Miami. Jordany Valdespin is likely to go back to Triple-A when Cedeno returns

Tags: Rob Johnson , Terry Collins , New York Mets , Matt Harvey , Cliff Lee , Josh Thole , Jenrry Mejia

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