Mets slugger Yoenis Cespedes swung under an 0-1 changeup from Tyler Clippard, looked down and took a stiff step out of the batter's box as he tried to stretch his sore right quadriceps.
He struck out on the next pitch, his last swing for at least two weeks.
Cespedes returned to the starting lineup in the Mets' 9-5 Subway Series loss to the New York Yankees on Wednesday night, then said he will be put on the 15-day disabled list Thursday in another blow to the defending NL champions. Before the game, the Mets said first baseman Lucas Duda likely will not play again this season because of a back injury that has sidelined him since May.
"I think the best option is just rest about 10 days or so, because if I continue playing hurt, I'm not going to recover," Cespedes said through a translator.
He injured the leg July 8 against Washington. Cespedes aggravated it last Saturday, then returned as a pinch-hitter Tuesday night when he legged out a run-scoring infield single.
With the Mets playing five straight games in AL ballparks, Mets manager Terry Collins hoped to use Cespedes as a designated hitter and return him to the outfield when a homestand starts next week.
Now, the earliest the All-Star can play is Aug. 19 at San Francisco. Rookie outfielder Brandon Nimmo will be recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas, where he was optioned Tuesday.
"It's been frustrating, because I've lost my timing," said Cespedes, hitting .292 with 22 homers and 59 RBIs after a 1-for-5 night. "I've lost games and haven't been able to contribute to the ballclub."
Retired major leaguer Kevin Millar tweeted a photo of himself with Cespedes after a round of golf Wednesday, which did not bother Collins.
"Was he running on the course or was he walking? Did he ride a cart or was he jogging?" Collins said. "No, I don't have any problem."
The Mets, who have the lowest batting average in the National League, lost for the sixth time in eight games and dropped 8 1/2 games behind NL East-leading Washington and two games back for the league's second wild card.
Duda has been sidelined since May 20 because of a stress fracture in his lower back, an injury originally projected to keep him out of the lineup for four to six weeks.
He had been taking grounders and hitting off a tee at the team's spring training complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida, when he felt the renewed pain late last week. Duda traveled to Marina del Rey, California, where he was examined Tuesday by Dr. Robert Watkins.
"He just had a flare-up of a little bit of back pain, and the doctor said just back him off," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "I'm sure it was caused by the workouts. There wasn't any indication specifically what it was."
Asked whether Duda could possibly return in October if the Mets reach the postseason, Alderson said: "It doesn't look good." Alderson said Duda should heal with rest and be ready for spring training.
Collins for now had just the one game with Cespedes hitting in front of All-Star outfielder Jay Bruce, acquired Monday from Cincinnati. Bruce went 0 for 4 with a walk, dropping to 0 for 8 with the Mets.
"Obviously, it's very, very unfortunate that Yoenis is on the DL, but that's why it's called a team," Bruce said. "I think everyone in here understands that they're going to have to pick up the slack and play good baseball. We need him healthy, comparatively healthy, and I think everyone in here looks forward to picking up the slack and looking at this as a challenge to do that."
With the Mets trailing 6-3 and the bases loaded in the seventh, Bruce struck out on three pitches, getting frozen on a 98 mph fastball from Luis Severino for strike three. After James Loney's RBI groundout, Michael Conforto fanned on a slider from Luis Severino (1-6).
"Obviously, I would have liked to at least put the ball in play, but I just missed that opportunity and look forward to the next one," Bruce said.
Curtis Granderson led off the game with a home run into the right-field short porch off Chad Green, his Mets record 18th leadoff home run, one more than Jose Reyes. Granderson has seven leadoff homers this season and 42 in his big league career
WALK IN THE PARK
Neil Walker homered off Clippard in the ninth, his 18th this season. Walker had his second four-hit game this year and is 17 for 33 in his last eight games, raising his batting average from .237 to .263.
Steven Matz (8-8) allowed six runs in the first two innings and is 1-5 since July 1.
RHP Zack Wheeler is scheduled to pitch Saturday for Class A St. Lucie of the Florida State League in his first game since Tommy John surgery on March 25 last year.
RHP Nathan Eovaldi (9-7) starts for the Yankees and RHP Bartolo Colon (9-6) for the Mets in Thursday night's Subway Series finale.