Niese set for rehab start, to return next week

Niese set for rehab start, to return next week

NEW YORK -- Jon Niese will make a Minor League rehab start this weekend with Class A St. Lucie and should rejoin the rotation late next week.

Niese, who threw his second bullpen session of the week on Thursday, has been cleared to join the St. Lucie Mets for a rehab start either Saturday or Sunday. And manager Jerry Manuel said that he will rejoin the rotation as soon as he is ready, most likely next Friday at Citi Field.

"He'll be back in the rotation when he gets back, yes," Manuel said.

If Fernando Nieve pitches well in his rotation debut this Saturday, and R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi both continue to excel, then the Mets would have six starters for five spots once Niese returns. Manuel indicated that he would at least temporarily consider keeping all six of them in the rotation, affording Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey extra days of rest during the summer months.

"There are always a lot of different possibilities," Manuel said.

Niese has been on the disabled list since May 17 with a mild right hamstring strain. He said the muscle is now back to 100 percent.