DENVER — After missing four out of the past five games with a sore right hip, Jay Bruce landed on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday, the latest in a series of injuries that have sapped the Mets’ outfield depth and left them with infielders as backups.
First baseman Dominic Smith and outfielder Jose Bautista appear poised to share playing time in Bruce’s absence. The Mets called up righthander Tim Peterson from Triple-A Las Vegas to fill the roster spot.
Bruce headed to New York Tuesday and was scheduled for an MRI. The DL stint is retroactive to Monday, but it’s not clear how long he’ll be out.
“The more and more we talked about it, the more and more we dug, he was really hurting,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “We made the decision to go ahead and put him on the DL and get him right so he can be the impactful player that he can be.”
Already, the Mets are without Yoenis Cespedes (strained right hip flexor) and Juan Lagares (foot surgery) in the outfield. They have only three healthy outfielders on the 40-man roster: Bautista, Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo.
Callaway said infielder Wilmer Flores, who took some reps in the outfield during spring training, is not an option to make starts there.
Smith got the start Tuesday night — in left, with Nimmo in right — and will be out there regularly. He has worked out in the corner spots periodically for the past month, first with Las Vegas (five games) and then with the major-league team (one game).
“We won’t hesitate to put Dom out there,” Callaway said.
Said Smith: “If you asked me last year when I was in Triple A — at the size I was — if you would have told me by next June you’ll be playing outfield in the big leagues, I wouldn’t have believed you at all.”
The Mets opted to add Peterson, an eighth reliever, instead of opening a 40-man spot and adding an outfielder. Callaway said they’ll carry the extra pitcher at least through Thursday, given the havoc Coors Field can wreak on pitching staffs. The Mets’ bench, as currently constituted, has a catcher (Kevin Plawecki) and three infielders (Flores, Luis Guillorme, Jose Reyes).
The Bruce move came a day after Callaway acknowledged that Bruce’s physical issues — including this hip problem as well as plantar fasciitis in his left foot — have influenced his on-field problems. He is slashing .212/.292/.321 and hasn’t homered since May 7, a span of 113 plate appearances.
Bruce sat out Thursday-Saturday, returning Sunday to go 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He woke up “pretty sore” Monday, he said.
“We did what we thought might help him the most at that point in time, and we’re doing what we think will help the most now,” Callaway said. “The hard thing is to predict how long these things are going to linger. We all felt a few days off would help, and it didn’t.”