NEW YORK -- Regular batting-practice time came and went Monday afternoon with the Mets still lingering in their clubhouse. It was not until nearly a half-hour after their usual batting-practice time that the Mets began trickling out to the field, crowding around the cage and taking their swings. The starting position players did not begin hitting until even later.
Those adjustments took place as part of manager Terry Collins' effort to keep his starters fresh before home games. Concerned about an offense that entered Monday's play having scored three runs or fewer in 10 consecutive home games, Collins hoped to jumpstart his hitters by reducing the time between batting practice and the game's first pitch.
"It's a minor thing," Collins said. "We're kind of grasping at straws right now to see what works."
Typically, Mets starters hit before the reserves, taking their hacks between 4:30 and 5 p.m. ET prior to home games. That gives them more than two hours between the end of batting practice and the start of the game.
Contrast that to road games, when the Mets begin batting practice around 5:30 p.m. and do not finish until well after 6, giving their starters less than an hour to sit around the clubhouse and wait. Collins sees a correlation between those times and the fact that the Mets are averaging 3.54 runs per game at home this season and 4.67 on the road.
That split has been exacerbated recently, with the Mets stringing together their longest streak of games with three or fewer runs since 1988. But because Major League rules stipulate that the home team must take batting practice first, Collins was limited in the adjustments he could make.
Still, the manager figures even a minor tweak can only help.
"Does it make a difference? Probably not," Collins said. "We're just taking a shot."
Collins slides Mejia's start up as Hefner heads to 'pen
NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins made some changes to his rotation after Monday's 5-1 loss to Washington.
Jenrry Mejia, who was initially set to start on Sept. 19 against the Phillies, will pitch on Saturday against Milwaukee in place of Jeremy Hefner. Hefner will finish the season in the bullpen.
Collins said he plans to give Mejia at least two more starts before the season comes to a close early next month. Collin McHugh, whose scheduled start on Sept. 18 will be made by Matt Harvey, will be slotted in somewhere else and will start at least one more time.
Mejia hasn't started a Major League game since Sept. 15, 2010, -- he missed the entire 2011 season and underwent Tommy John surgery last May. He made his first appearance with the Mets this season on Friday, allowing one run over two innings.
Collins said Hefner's workload was the motivation for the move -- the right-hander, who has been used as both a starter and reliever, has tossed 78 1/3 innings in his first big league season.
Mets offer special tix deal to watch Dickey pitch
NEW YORK -- The Mets have launched a new ticket offer geared around R.A. Dickey's quest for a 20-win season and the National League Cy Young Award, offering three-game packages starting at $43 to watch Dickey pitch.
The packages include a ticket to Tuesday night's game against the Nationals, in which Dickey will try for his 19th win, as well as vouchers good for any two remaining home games. With Dickey continuing to start every fifth game for the Mets despite their six-man rotation, he is tentatively lined up to face the Phillies at Citi Field on Sept. 17 and the Marlins on Sept. 23. But fans are not restricted to redeeming their vouchers for those games.
Ticket packages are on sale at mets.com/RA and 718-507-TIXX, and must be picked up at the ballpark. The vouchers can be exchanged anytime at Citi Field's advance ticket windows, or on the day of each game at the box office.
Dickey entered play Monday tied for the Major League lead with 18 wins, and also leading the NL with a 2.64 ERA, five complete games and three shutouts. He ranked third in the NL with 195 strikeouts, and is vying to become the first Mets pitcher to win 20 games since Frank Viola went 20-12 in 1990.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. Adam Rosenbloom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.