PHOENIX -- LaTroy Hawkins is a reluctant closer. The 40-year-old reliever feels most comfortable in the eighth inning, but has been pitching the ninth because that is where the Mets need him most.
Luckily for Hawkins, he is not necessarily the Mets' closer. With regular ninth-inning man Bobby Parnell nursing a herniated disc in his neck that could require surgery, manager Terry Collins stressed Friday that he is "not committed to anybody" in the ninth.
So while Collins may continue turning to Hawkins for the immediate future, he may also turn back to David Aardsma, who blew his only save opportunity in Parnell's absence, or fellow right-hander Carlos Torres.
"A lot of it has to do with how certain right-handed hitters hit right-handed pitching and the kind of hitters they are," Collins said, explaining that Aardsma matches up better with some hitters due to his more explosive four-seam fastball.
Collins may also look to left-handers Scott Rice or Pedro Feliciano in the ninth inning if matchups dictate it. But for now, Hawkins appears to have the inside track for a role he does not necessarily want.
"When I saw the job that LaTroy did on so many occasions here in the last couple weeks in the eighth, where he's had to face the middle of the lineup and, gosh, got outs -- I mean easy outs -- I just thought maybe he's the guy that should be pitching the ninth inning," Collins said. "And so I went to him."