PHILADELPHIA — With two off days next week and Jason Vargas struggling, the Mets will skip the lefthander’s spot in the rotation.
Vargas will throw a simulated game Tuesday at Citi Field instead of pitching against the Blue Jays.
“I understood. Totally got it,” said Vargas, who has a 13.86 ERA and 2.68 WHIP in three starts. “You got to look yourself in the mirror and understand that the job wasn’t getting done. You have the opportunity to work on a few things and get some reps in that you wouldn’t normally be able to get in.”
Manager Mickey Callaway said Vargas has lacked “intent” and finish with his pitches. Vargas has said he specifically has an issue with his inability to make pitches in big moments, such as with two strikes to finish a batter or with runners on base.
“He’s kind of guiding it, wondering if he’s going to make the right pitch, things like that,” Callaway said. “This will give him an opportunity where if he leaves one over the plate, he can [say], you know what, let’s reset it and try it again and get a feel for making the right pitch.”
Callaway did not say when Vargas will rejoin the rotation. His normal spot would be May 21, but the Mets won’t need a fifth starter until May 23.
For a weekend, Dominic Smith is back in the big leagues.
With rightfielder Jay Bruce headed to the paternity list, the Mets called up their first-base prospect from Triple-A Las Vegas. Bruce is expected to miss only the three games against the Phillies, so Smith’s stay likely will be short.
Smith pinch-hit in the seventh, but Jose Reyes was picked off first during his at-bat to end the inning.
After missing most of spring training with an injury, Smith had a .278/.390/.417 slash line with Las Vegas.
Smith said he is still getting used to playing with his trimmer body, down to 215 pounds from 222 at the start of spring training and 250 at the end of last season. He added that he doesn’t feel as if he’s lost any strength, though his slugging percentage is down more than 100 points from his Triple-A mark last year.
It wasn’t difficult to go back to the minors after finishing last season in the majors, Smith said. “I didn’t want to come back up here right away because I knew I wasn’t ready,” he said. “My swing wasn’t ready. My legs weren’t under me.”
Robles to DL
The Mets put reliever Hansel Robles (right knee strain) on the 10-day disabled list and promoted lefthander Buddy Baumann from Las Vegas.
Robles’ X-ray was negative. His MRI was clean. “He just has a sore right knee,” Callaway said. “That’s probably the best way to describe it.”
The Mets picked up Baumann, 30, on waivers from the Padres last month. He has a 0.79 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 12 Triple-A games (11 1⁄3 innings) this season. Baumann served a one-game suspension Friday night for his involvement in a bench-clearing brawl with the Rockies last month.
Catcher Kevin Plawecki (fractured left hand) headed to Port St. Lucie, Florida, on Friday to continue his rehab. He said he’s probably about a week away from playing in minor-league games and another week away from being ready to return to the Mets.
Infielder T.J. Rivera (Tommy John surgery in September) is “still a little bit ways away,” assistant general manager John Ricco said. Rivera hasn’t had any setbacks but won’t be ready for a major-league return until around July.