Mets backup catcher Recker pitches in

Mets backup catcher Recker pitches in

Mets backup catcher Recker pitches in

NEW YORK -- Terry Collins remembered something Walter Alston, one of the top managers of all time, told him many years ago.

"Don't ever blow your bullpen in a game you can't win," Collins said, recalling Alston's advice. "Take your beating at the end of the game, but save your 'pen."

So going into the ninth inning with the Mets down 11 runs to the Nationals on Sunday, Collins called on backup catcher Anthony Recker to pitch so he didn't have to use any more relievers in what ended up being a 13-2 loss.

Recker, who said he pitched a little in high school and college, got off to a rough start.

He walked Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth on four pitches, and then served up a long home run to shortstop Ian Desmond on a 2-0 pitch that gave the Nationals a 13-0 lead. Recker then managed to get three straight flyouts to end the inning.

"It was strange. I haven't been on the mound in a while," Recker said. "I had fun with it -- I tried to."

Collins said he didn't want Recker to try and do too much on the mound -- just throw the ball over the plate. Recker did reach 88 mph on the radar gun, and had his arm wrapped in ice after the game as a precaution. But he said his arm felt fine.

Recker said he warmed up in two other games this season, one of them being a 15-inning, 4-3 loss to Miami on April 29. He couldn't remember what the other game was, but he said it wasn't the 20-inning loss to the Marlins earlier this month.

The last position player to pitch for the Mets was catcher Rob Johnson, who threw one inning in New York's 14-5 loss to Toronto on May 18 of last season. Unlike Recker, though, Johnson finished with a strikeout.

The Mets had to use four relievers to get through the final 4 1/3 innings after starter Zack Wheeler left the game. Recker just wanted to make sure they didn't have to use any others.

"That's the whole point -- obviously try to save our bullpen a little bit," Recker said. "I'm glad I was able to do that."

Chris Iseman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.