Maybe it's mind over matter or good ol' fashioned Mets magic, but once Michael Cuddyer hits the basepaths, the left knee pain that put him on the 15-day disabled list goes away.
"When he gets on base, his knee doesn't hurt," Mets manager Terry Collins said after the Mets' 4-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field on Tuesday night. "It might hurt him, but when he's in action, it doesn't hurt him."
Cuddyer, playing in his first game since going on the DL on July 22 with a bruised left knee, went 2-for-4 with two singles and two runs. He also stole his second base of the season.
While Cuddyer didn't wax as poetic as Collins did about mysterious disappearing pain, he certainly didn't admit that he was still hampered by it.
"It's one of two things as an athlete," said Cuddyer, who is hitting .253 with eight home runs and 30 RBIs. "You either can or you can't play. When I can play, everything is good. We'll leave it at that."
But he said that the two weeks away from the grind of playing every day was helpful.
"I wouldn't have come back if I felt the same as I did two weeks ago," he said. "It was necessary to take that DL stint. I'm glad it worked out."
Cuddyer scored the Mets' first run, coming around from second base on Ruben Tejada's single in the sixth. He stole second and moved to third on Colorado catcher Nick Hundley's error in the eighth, then scored the Mets' second run on Curtis Granderson's pinch-hit, bases-loaded walk.
"I feel good," Cuddyer said of his offensive performance. "I was able to get a couple balls to go through the hole for me. It's nice to be able to contribute out on the field, rather than being in the dugout."
Cuddyer got the start in rightfield, his first this season in that spot. He played 35 games in rightfield last season for Colorado. Cuddyer didn't miss a beat, making a diving grab to add emphasis to the "what knee pain?" theme of the evening.
"I felt fine," he said. "I've got [897 career] games out in right. I know, not recently, but I felt fine shifting over there. I don't want to say it's like riding a bike or anything, but I felt comfortable."
Save for a small handful of chances, all handled without incident, Cuddyer spent most of the night doing what the 25,611 fans in the ballpark were doing -- watching starter Matt Harvey turn in a masterful performance. Harvey threw eight shutout and shutdown innings, allowing only four hits, striking out four, and keeping his pitch count under 100 (97).
Those are the nights that make playing defense less of a task and more of a privilege.
"When you have Harvey pitching, you can watch some of the game," Cuddyer said. "You're still locked in and prepared to make plays. It's not like you can sit back and take pitches off or anything. You're still going through your pre-pitch routine in the outfield and are locked in."
Cuddyer continued: "When you sit back and reflect on what [Harvey's] done, I mean he's pounding the strike zone with plus stuff, sitting at 96 mph with an 89-90 mph slider, an 85-mph curveball, all for strikes, and a 90-mph changeup, too. He had it working today. It's fun to play behind him."