DENVER -- So desperate for pitching in a 18-9 loss to the Rockies on Sunday, Mets manager Terry Collins told outfielder Mike Baxter that he would be next in line to throw after Bobby Parnell. So when Parnell began scuffling in the eighth inning and Collins walked to the mound, Baxter began jogging in from left field.
"I touched dirt," he said, laughing.
That's when center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis caught Baxter's attention, signaling that left-hander Tim Byrdak had begun jogging in from the bullpen to take Parnell's place. Byrdak needed work, sparing Baxter a rare position-player appearance on the mound.
It was not the first time Baxter thought he might have to pitch in a big league game. A natural infielder who has not pitched since Little League, Baxter warmed in the bullpen once last summer in a similar situation but did not have to enter.
If he did, Baxter knows what would have happened.
"There's only one pitch coming," he said, laughing. "It's a straight ball. It's not fast."
Joking aside, Baxter is the team's clear choice as emergency pitcher. Though first baseman Ike Davis pitched with great success at Arizona State, the Mets would not be willing to use him on the mound and risk injury to one of their core players.
As for an emergency catcher, the answer is not so clear.
"That would have been a meeting of nine guys on the mound," Collins said, "and me saying, 'Which one of you ... can go back there and catch?'"