Mets put Drew Smith on IL, Starling Marte on bereavement list

NEW YORK -- The banged-up New York Mets are minus two more important players after putting reliever Drew Smith on the 15-day injured list and right fielder Starling Marte on the bereavement list Saturday.

The team recalled infielder Mark Vientos and right-hander Dedniel Núñez from Triple-A Syracuse before the middle game of its weekend series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Marte went home to the Dominican Republic for family reasons. He is expected to miss three days, manager Carlos Mendoza said. Smith will be out longer after an MRI showed inflammation in his pitching shoulder.

The right-hander was placed on the IL retroactive to Wednesday, and the Mets hope he can return as soon as he's eligible.

"We don't think it's anything serious," Mendoza said.

Smith is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA and one save in 10 appearances this season. After making his debut in 2018, he is the longest-tenured pitcher on the Mets.

Marte is batting .288 with four homers, 12 RBI, six stolen bases and 16 runs. The club's No. 2 hitter reached 1,500 career hits Friday night.

DJ Stewart started in right field Saturday, batting fifth.

New York also has placed starting catcher Francisco Alvarez (left thumb surgery), key reliever Brooks Raley (left elbow inflammation) and pitcher Tylor Megill (strained right shoulder) on the injured list since the season began.

No. 1 starter Kodai Senga won't make his 2024 debut until May 27 or later because of a capsule strain in his right shoulder, and left-hander David Peterson is working his way back from offseason surgery for a torn labrum in his left hip.

With their starters struggling to get deep into games, the Mets have taxed their bullpen. Half of the eight relievers who broke camp with the team in late March have already been replaced due to injury or a roster crunch when fresh arms were needed.

Throughout spring training, Vientos appeared in line for regular big league at-bats at designated hitter and perhaps third base before New York signed veteran slugger J.D. Martinez to a $12 million, one-year contract on March 23. The 24-year-old Vientos was disappointed by his surprise demotion to the minors two days later, but he was batting .302 with five homers, 22 RBI and a .923 OPS in 23 games at Syracuse before getting called up.

"He's performing. He earned it," Mendoza said. "My message to him is, be ready for your opportunity."

Vientos made his major league debut in 2022. He batted .211 with nine homers, 22 RBI and a .620 OPS in 65 games for the Mets last year.

"Whatever they want me to do, I'm here for it," he said.