ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) The New York Mets will start the season with an eight-man bullpen, leaving only four position players on the bench for manager Terry Collins.
''We just need to protect ourselves early, our starting pitching early,'' Collins said Saturday. ''It protects us down in the bullpen, so we don't have to use guys too often too early.''
Collins had said that opening-day starter Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee are the only starters built up to 100 pitches or more. Plus, ace Matt Harvey is coming back after missing last season following Tommy John ligament replacement surgery. Jacob deGrom was the National League rookie of the year last season, when he threw 140 1-3 innings with the Mets after 38 1-3 at Triple-A Las Vegas.
''We're going to have to be careful with Matt, certainly got to make sure that Jacob doesn't overdo it, Jon Niese, all of them,'' Collins said.
Asked how long the Mets would keep eight relievers, Collins said he'd probably get an extra player on the bench ''when you get in a situation where it looks like our pitch counts are up and we're cruising along. ... Right now, I just think this is the best way.''
Even if it means having to use pitchers sometimes in pinch-hitting situations.
Utilityman Eric Campbell was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas, among several moves the Mets announced while getting closer to finalizing their 25-man roster.
Campbell played all four infield positions and in the outfield last season, hitting .263 in 85 games for the Mets. He also worked some as a catcher this spring, adding to his versatility.
''I know I'm happy with the way I played. I worked my butt off this offseason to make the opening day roster,'' Campbell said. ''Hopefully it's just one of those things where I go down, play hard for however long they want me to, and I'm back up here. ... I'm the odd man out, I guess.''
Collins said it was a tough having to tell Campbell that he was going to the minors to start the season.
''It was very hard, because he plays the game the right way, just like you want it, always ready, plays a lot of positions,'' Collins said.
Right-hander Eric Goeddel was also optioned to Las Vegas, while catcher Johnny Monel, infielders Daniel Muno and Matt Reynolds and right-hander Zack Thornton were reassigned to the minor leagues.
New York on Sunday plans to put pitchers Zack Wheeler, Bobby Parnell, Vic Black and Josh Edgin on the 15-day disabled list. All those moves will be retroactive to March 27.
With the eight relievers, left-hander Sean Gilmartin and right-hander Buddy Carlyle will both open the season in New York. Gilmartin was a Rule 5 pick over the winter from the Atlanta Braves and the 37-year-old Carlyle signed a minor league deal to rejoin the Mets after a 1.45 ERA in 27 appearances last season.