TORONTO -- Though Miguel Batista arrived at Rogers Centre Sunday with his strained lower back muscle feeling markedly better, the Mets could ill afford a slow recovery from their 41-year-old pitcher. Needing bullpen depth more than rotation stability at this juncture of the season, the team placed Batista on the disabled list and recalled right-hander Chris Schwinden from Triple-A Buffalo.
"He was pitching great," manager Terry Collins said of Batista. "He said his back feels a lot better today and we understand that. But ... if we've got to pull him out of a game again in the second inning, we may not have the backup that's needed."
Batista left Saturday's game after two innings with a pulled muscle in his lower back. The right-hander classified it more as an oblique strain, unrelated to the groin injury he suffered last week.
In any case, it was not a particularly bad strain. But given the tattered state of their bullpen, the Mets were not willing to play short-handed even for a brief period of time.
"I feel great," Batista said. "Usually when you pull a muscle in your ribcage, you feel like you've been hit by a truck the next day. But I wasn't that sore."
Schwinden's stay on the roster should be temporary, with the Mets planning to recall a fifth bench player -- likely Vinny Rottino -- from Buffalo following Sunday's game. That means that Batista's rotation spot will go to Jeremy Hefner, who pitched five innings of two-run relief Saturday.
Hefner has allowed nothing more than those two runs over the first eight innings of his big league career, striking out five and walking one.
"I thought Jeremy was outstanding [Saturday]," Collins said. "I told him so. He really pitched great. We are going to see what he can do, whether we're looking forward to it or not."