ATLANTA -- For most of the second half of this season, Mets officials have been coy when asked why shortstop Ruben Tejada has not returned to the big league team.
General manager Sandy Alderson offered a window into the organization's thinking Tuesday, saying on WFAN that asking Tejada to do extra work is "like pulling teeth."
"We need to see a commitment to improvement," Alderson said of Tejada, who is batting .288 with a .337 on-base percentage over 60 games at Triple-A Las Vegas.
It was not the first time a Mets official has publicly disparaged Tejada, who entered this season as the team's undisputed starting shortstop, before a quad injury landed him on the disabled list and, ultimately, in Triple-A. Two years ago, manager Terry Collins condemned Tejada for not reporting early to Spring Training, though Tejada was not technically late.
Collins opted not to expand upon Alderson's comments Tuesday, saying only that he believes it unnecessary for Tejada to be with the Mets before Las Vegas' playoff run ends.
"I've evaluated Ruben Tejada plenty," Collins said. "I've seen him plenty of times. I've seen him 500 at-bats. I don't need to see him three more weeks to evaluate him. It's not about whether or not he can play here. He can play here. He's got to do some other things that need to get done first."
Mets will target starting pitching if Harvey misses '14
ATLANTA -- Matt Harvey's elbow injury will play a significant role in how the Mets allocate their resources this winter, general manager Sandy Alderson said Tuesday.
Speaking on WFAN radio, Alderson indicated that the Mets will more aggressively pursue starting pitching this offseason, now that Harvey is likely to miss all of 2014 while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
"We've got some money to spend," Alderson told WFAN. "I wasn't planning on spending it on starting pitching because of the depth that we have, but given the fact that we may have lost our No. 1 guy means we're going to have to look for an additional veteran presence in the rotation. We have to accept it, absorb it and try to move on to be better."
Among those headlining a relatively deep pool of free-agent starters are Matt Garza, A.J. Burnett, Bronson Arroyo, Phil Hughes and Tim Lincecum. Though all of them may command the type of multiyear contracts Alderson has been loath to offer over his first three winters as GM, the Mets figure to have more money budgeted for free agents than they have in years.
With Johan Santana, Jason Bay and Frank Francisco officially coming off the books, the Mets will enter the offseason with significant commitments to only two players: David Wright ($20 million) and Jon Niese ($5 million). That should free up plenty of money to sign a starting pitcher, even while Alderson pursues lineup help.
As things currently stand, the Mets are set to enter next season with a rotation of Niese, Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee and two question marks. Jenrry Mejia will likely compete for a role in Spring Training, while Mets Top 20 Prospects Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom could also force their way into that conversation.
That all assumes, of course, that Harvey undergoes Tommy John surgery in the coming weeks; he has not yet committed to that course of action, and the Mets have not revealed when the follow-up examination on his elbow will occur. But if Harvey does have the operation, he will need the entire 2014 season to recover.
Byrdak makes successful return to Major Leagues
ATLANTA -- Lost in the shuffle of the Mets' blowout loss Monday was left-hander Tim Byrdak's successful return to the Majors. Less than a year after undergoing major left shoulder surgery, Byrdak returned to fire 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief against the Braves, allowing one hit and striking out one.
"At this time last year, if you asked me if it was possible, I would have said, 'No way,'" Byrdak said. "But to come back and do all that hard work and have it pay off is nice."
Byrdak, who posted a 4.40 ERA in 56 appearances last season, figures to see plenty of action down the stretch alongside fellow lefty specialists Scott Rice and Pedro Feliciano.
• Collins confirmed Tuesday what he intimated a day earlier, that Daisuke Matsuzaka will remain in the rotation to start Sunday in Cleveland. Matsuzaka is 0-3 with a 10.95 ERA over his first three starts with the Mets.
• Infielder Wilmer Flores sat on the bench Tuesday for the third time in four games, with Josh Satin starting at third base. Collins said the decision was partially due to the soreness Flores has been experiencing in both ankles, and partially due to baseball reasons.
"You're talking about a guy who's beat up a little bit," Collins said. "He's tired. He's sore. We're trying to win some games, and Josh Satin has been swinging pretty good."
• First baseman Ike Davis was scheduled for an MRI Tuesday morning on his strained right oblique. The Mets had not yet received the results as of Tuesday afternoon, though both Davis and the team are operating under the assumption that the injury is season ending.