MILWAUKEE — T.J. Rivera’s offensive output has prompted Mets manager Terry Collins to shake up the starting lineup, part of what could be a reshuffling as Yoenis Cespedes gets closer to returning.
In what could be a preview of things to come, Rivera started for the Mets at third base last night in an 11-4 loss to the Brewers, the second time in as many days that Jose Reyes did not start.
Collins also reintroduced the possibility of using Reyes in the outfield. Then, with the Mets getting blown out, he used the career infielder in centerfield in the sixth inning. It was Reyes first action in the outfield and it came in his 1,657th career game.
Reyes did not see any action and was shifted to shortstop after Asdrubal Cabrera reaggravated a left thumb injury when he got jammed on a swing in the seventh.
“I was ready,” said Reyes, who borrowed Juan Lagares’ glove. “I was waiting for the ball to [be hit to] me but it didn’t happen.”
Still, Reyes’ cameo offered a preview of an alignment that the Mets could explore if Curtis Granderson doesn’t pull out of his season-long tailspin.
“I’ve seen a little bit better swing in the last 10 days, so we’re going to try to stay with it for a while and hopefully he gets it going,” Collins said of Granderson, who began play Saturday night hitting .143, the lowest average among all qualifying hitters in the big leagues.
Granderson went 1-for-3 and was pulled as part of a double switch.
The Mets’ starting pitchers have failed to deliver quality outings, putting pressure on the offense to cover for those shortcomings. For Collins, that means sticking with the hot hand.
Entering last night, Rivera had hit .360 in his last 13 games, making the most of his opportunity to play every day. That action was mostly at first base. But with the return of Lucas Duda from the disabled list, Rivera shifted to third base the last two nights, displacing the slumping Reyes.
“It’s just a matter of seeing live pitching more,” Rivera said. “Your eyes adapt to things and you get a little more comfortable. You know you don’t have just one at-bat a game. You know you’ve got a couple to go out and compete. It helps you get into a little bit of a rhythm.”
Reyes, meanwhile, has cooled off after an 11-game stretch in which he raised his average from .095 to .198. But in the five games since the end of that hot streak, Reyes was 1-for-15 (.067) entering Saturday night.
Collins said he still intends to get Reyes in the lineup, part of his motivation to reintroduce the idea of Reyes playing the outfield. But he also could keep Reyes at third while shifting Rivera to leftfield, which could put Granderson on the bench.
Either way, playing time in the outfield could get cleared up once Cespedes returns. With Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto giving the Mets steady production, Granderson could become the odd man out.
Cabrera likely will not play in Sunday’s series finale against the Brewers after reaggravating a left thumb injury that has bothered him since last Sunday. He was pulled in the middle of the seventh.
“It’s crazy,” said Cabrera, whose thumb swelled after getting jammed on a swing in the seventh. “A lot of injuries have come to the team. But there’s nothing we can do. We have to keep working hard with the guys that we have.”
Jeurys Familia should resume throwing in six weeks and could miss three to four months — a timeline that gives him a chance to return before the end of the season — the Mets announced.
According to the club, Familia underwent surgery on Friday to repair a blockage of the posterior circumflex humeral artery on his right side.
Collins said he was relieved that Familia does not have thoracic outlet syndrome, the ailment that sent Matt Harvey to surgery last season.
Steven Matz and Seth Lugo each threw 30 pitches in two innings in an extended spring training game yesterday, a step forward as both continue to rebound from elbow injuries.
Barring any setbacks, the Mets hope both will be ready to return by early June.