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Jonathon Niese set to return Sunday vs. Arizona

Jonathon Niese delivers a pitch during a game

Jonathon Niese delivers a pitch during a game against the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field. (June 15, 2013) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Technically, the Mets starting pitcher against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix on Sunday is "TBA." But lefthander Jonathon Niese, on the disabled list with a partial tear in a shoulder muscle since June 21, Wednesday said he will be subbing for that Unknown Starter.

Niese rejoined the team after a third rehabilitation game on Tuesday with Double-A Binghamton, in which he threw 80 pitches in five innings. He estimated he could throw about 95 pitches upon his major-league return. Manager Terry Collins said the Mets, who will be without top reliever Bobby Parnell (herniated neck disc) at least until Aug. 16, likely will use LaTroy Hawkins as their closer.

Niese said he was told that his injury will eventually heal with offseason rest and meanwhile will rely on strengthening exercises.

Making Wright moves

With All-Star David Wright on the disabled list (hamstring strain), Collins batted second baseman Daniel Murphy -- "probably as good a hitter as we have" -- third in the lineup, moving centerfielder Juan Lagares into the No. 2 spot at the suggestion of batting coach Dave Hudgens. "Also, by moving Marlon [Byrd] down one spot and Ike [Davis] down one" -- to fourth and fifth -- "all of a sudden the back end of your order takes a little better shape, rather than having those young kids in the sixth, seventh and eighth spots."

Collins said he "is not sure" some of the team's younger players "have been here long enough to know what it's all about yet, the importance of having Wright in the lineup.

"I think they're just excited to be here. When it's all said and done, they want to make sure they have jobs here.

"So I think that's their main focus, that they can show people they belong in the big leagues."

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