Niese, whose start had been pushed back a day after he tweaked a muscle in his right side last week, aggravated the injury on a pitch to Hunter Pence in the third inning Tuesday. His greater mistake was staying in the game. Unable to command his pitches down in the zone, Niese served up a three-run homer to the next batter, John Mayberry, Jr., allowing eight runs in total on the night.
"I don't know if I damaged it more," Niese said. "I doubt it. But it's one of those things where I can't pitch with it. I've just got to get it better."
Without the luxury of flexibility in their starting rotation, the team will likely call up both Chris Schwinden and Miguel Batista, or perhaps Pat Misch, from Triple-A Buffalo to pitch the two games of Monday's doubleheader.
Though Niese's injury may not require two full weeks to heal, the Mets, needing pitching, simply cannot proceed with a day-to-day situation.
"It's hurting," Niese said. "I feel terrible. I should have said something after that at-bat, but I let the game get away and I just feel awful for it. I did the best I could with what I had. But it's one of those things where I've just got to get it better."
Falling to 11-11 on the season with a 4.40 ERA, Niese is now 2-3 with a 6.82 ERA over his last six starts.
The news was no better for Hairston, who underwent an X-ray after injuring his left intercostal muscle on a swing in the seventh inning. Though the Mets were still awaiting the results of that test late Tuesday night, Hairston is almost certainly headed to the disabled list.
"I wouldn't feel comfortable taking a swing the way it feels now," he said. "That could change in the next couple days."
The team's primary right-handed pinch-hitter and occasional starter against lefty pitchers, Hairston was batting .235 with seven home runs. Three of those homers have come in 40 pinch-hit at-bats.