Hefner, who posted a 2.72 ERA in seven starts for Buffalo, will give the Mets a true long man out of their bullpen at least through the weekend. Because Hefner replaced a position player, infielder Jordany Valdespin, on the active roster, the Mets will need to make another move Monday to expand their bench back to five players.
"We just thought we needed another pitcher right now, so we're going to use him out of the bullpen," manager Terry Collins said. "Hopefully if we need some innings, he can save us."
Once the Mets leave Toronto, it may not necessarily be Hefner who goes back down to the Minors. With Manny Acosta pitching poorly of late and Robert Carson having only one Major League appearance under his belt, Collins admitted that "we'll have a decision to make" regarding his bullpen, which holds a 5.54 ERA in May.
It has not helped that Mets starters have struggled to pitch deep into games, with Jon Niese lasting just three innings in Friday's loss and position player Rob Johnson finishing the game on the mound. Given the designated hitter rule in Toronto, the Mets decided that they could afford to play Saturday and Sunday with a shortened bench -- one made even shorter by third baseman David Wright's lingering illness.
The resulting roster casualty was Valdespin, who had struggled to find playing time behind middle infielders Daniel Murphy, Ronny Cedeno and Justin Turner. Though Valdespin had played mostly center field during his early season stint at Buffalo, Collins indicated that he will start at second base upon his return to the Minors. Valdespin was 2-for-20 during two Major League stints this season.
Hefner had endeared himself to Collins last month, pitching three scoreless innings in an emergency relief appearance at Citi Field. The Mets claimed him off waivers from the Pirates this winter.