Bats: Omar Quintanilla is Mets’ Sixth Shortstop of Season
One turned ankle has led to the Mets’ trotting out their sixth shortstop this season, although at least the latest option has experience at the position.
Justin Turner’s sore right ankle landed him on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday. To replace him on the roster, the Mets purchased the contract of the veteran shortstop Omar Quintanilla from Class AAA Buffalo.
Quintanilla, 30, has played parts of six major league seasons with the Colorado Rockies and the Texas Rangers, getting his most extended action in 2008, when he batted .238 in 81 games for the Rockies.
Quintanilla has a reputation as a strong fielder but is unlikely to provide much in the way of offense. Quintanilla, a 2003 first-round draft pick out of the University of Texas, has a career on-base plus slugging percentage of .552, which adjusted for home parks is 60 percent below league average. He was hitting .282 at Buffalo.
Quintanilla was in the starting lineup Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Quintanilla has the distinction of being the first Met with a last name starting with Q, leaving X as the only letter not represented on last names on the team’s all-time roster. He is, however, unlikely to join Paul Quantrill, Carlos Quentin and Dan Quisenberry as players with Q last names who have been selected to an All-Star team.
In other moves, Manny Acosta, who had an 11.86 earned run average in 19 appearances, was designated for assignment, and the team recalled the right-hander Chris Schwinden from Buffalo to take his spot on the roster.
“The bus from Buffalo arrived today, as it normally does,” General Manager Sandy Alderson said in reference to the flurry of activity.
The Mets have had a host of injuries this season, but shortstop has been particularly plagued, with Ruben Tejada, Ronny Cedeno, Jordany Valdespin, Turner and even David Wright seeing time at the position.
“We have a lot issues here with the health of our club when you send six guys out to play shortstop and three of them are not shortstops,” Manager Terry Collins said. “We’ve got to get ourselves healthy and stay healthy.”
Before this season, Valdespin had no major league experience at shortstop and Wright had logged two innings. Turner, while also possessing little experience at shortstop, performed admirably in seven games, five starts, for the Mets, before injuring his ankle in the third inning Monday. He had no errors in 45 innings and helped turn four double plays.
Collins said the situation reminded him of the 1999 Anaheim Angels, a team he managed that had injuries to many of the club’s stars, including Mo Vaughn, Jim Edmonds and Tim Salmon.
While not prompted by injury, the move to rid the team of Acosta was expected after he allowed three runs in one-third of an inning Monday, capping a three-appearance streak in which he allowed 11 runs in four and one-third innings.
Schwinden was not much better in two starts for the Mets earlier this season, allowing 11 runs, 10 earned, in eight innings. Things went better at Buffalo, where he posted a 2.59 E.R.A. in nine starts, striking out 41 and walking 17 in 482/3 innings.
THE MIGHTY EAST Entering Tuesday’s games, all five teams in the National League East were at least two games above .500. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time that had happened this late in a season since 2006, when all five teams in the National League West were two games above .500 as late as June 15. The four games that separate first and last place in the East are the smallest differential in baseball this season.
BAY REHABBING, SORT OF Outfielder Jason Bay, on the disabled list since April 24 with a nondisplaced fracture of a rib, is continuing his rehabilitation of the injury but is still limited to playing designated hitter at extended spring training in hopes of letting the injury heal completely before he plays in the field.
“If you talk to Jason, he will be the first to tell you there’s only one way he plays the outfield,” Terry Collins said. “If he goes after a fly ball and he needs to leave his feet for it, he will do that, and he’s not ready to do that yet.”