Nieve, the Mets' starting pitcher in a 7-1 loss to the Braves on Sunday night, was carted off the field in the second inning after suffering at least a strain of the quadriceps running the bases. The Mets provided no prognosis, but he said he couldn't lift his leg and bend his knee. Not a good indication.
If Nieve is unavailable to pitch and his turn in the rotation comes up -- he was tentatively scheduled for Saturday in Houston -- the Mets could return Tim Redding to the rotation or -- more likely -- summon rookie Jon Niese from their Triple-A Buffalo affiliate. Manager Jerry Manuel said Niese "is definitely a possibility."
Niese has been consistently effective through his seven most recent starts with the Bisons, winning five, losing none and producing an 0.72 ERA. He pitched a two-hit shutout in a seven-inning game against Toledo on Saturday. It was his second shutout in three starts. He had shut out Rochester on five hits in a nine-inning game July 5.
Manuel had said before the game Sunday that he hadn't been told by anyone that Niese, 22, was fully prepared for more big league duty. But sometimes need supersedes readiness. Niese made two starts for the Mets -- against the Braves and Pirates -- at Citi Field in May, earning a decision in neither game. The Mets split. He allowed 14 hits and two walks in 10 2/3 innings. His ERA was 5.91. Niese had a 1-1 record and 7.07 in three starts and 14 innings last season.
Nieve was batting with runners on first and second base and two outs in the second when he hit a pitch off the plate and high into the air. Opposing pitcher Javier Vazquez waited for the ball and made a hurried and accurate throw to first base to end the inning. Barely out, Nieve took a few pained steps and tumbled after he crossed the base.
Manuel and the Mets trainers moved quickly to his side, calling for a cart almost immediately. Redding, his place on the roster seemingly not secure, replaced Nieve.
The foremost revelation among Mets pitchers this season, Nieve had won his first three starts. He lost his subsequent three, pitching ineffectively in the first two. He entered he game with a 3.03 ERA.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.