CINCINNATI — The New York Mets certainly don't have the most desirable travel schedule.
They beat the Washington Nationals 5-1 in a nationally televised game Sunday night, then flew to Cincinnati to face the Reds at 1:10 p.m. EDT on Monday at Great American Ball Park.
“Is that a big difference? Well, yeah, you're still talking about rest,” manager Terry Collins said. “We've still got to get to the ballpark, we've got to be there at 11:30 (a.m.), just to get the blood flowing and get the guys out there, loosen them up and get them ready to play.
“They're not going to go board that plane tonight and go right to sleep. That isn't happening. So we've got to somehow make sure that there's a least a little period of time where they're going to get some rest.”
Collins said Sunday night that he discussed resting some regulars on Monday but hadn't made any decisions.
Monday will be a memorable day for Mets right fielder Jay Bruce, who will play in Great American Ball Park for the first time with his new team. He was traded Aug. 1 by the Reds, the club he played for during his first eight-plus seasons, to New York in exchange for infielder Dilson Herrera and minor league pitcher Max Wotell.
Bruce, along with his wife Hannah, are to be honored during pregame ceremonies on Monday.
The Mets have won 16 of the past 18 matchups with the Reds, including each of the past 11 games dating to a 2-1 loss on Sept. 16, 2014, at Great American Ball Park.
The current 11-game losing streak is Cincinnati's longest ever against the Mets.
At 27-15, the Mets have the highest winning percentage at Great American Ball Park of any team in the National League, including the Reds.
New York swept the Reds in a three-game series April 25-27 at Citi Field.
Right-hander Robert Stephenson, the Reds' top-rated rated prospect according to Baseball America, will make his third major league start Monday. He is taking the rotation spot vacated by Homer Bailey, who is being skipped due to tightness in his right biceps.
It has been a roller coaster year for Stephenson, who became the first Reds pitcher to win his first two career starts since Larry Luebbers in 1993. Wayne Simpson in 1970 was the last Reds pitcher to win his first 3 career starts.
However, in the minor leagues, Stephenson struggled with his command while going 8-9 with a 4.41 ERA in 24 Triple-A starts. Delino DeShields, his manager at Louisville, said publicly that he wasn't making the adjustments as suggested by the coaching staff and should be “embarrassed” by his performance.
“I understood where he was coming from,” Stephenson said of DeShields after being recalled on Friday. “I was frustrated, too. He apologized. I'd be stupid to not listen to coaching.”
Stephenson (2-0, 3.00 ERA) will be facing the Mets for the first time, and he said he will take solace in the fact that he will remain in the majors for the remainder of the season.
“Of the three times I've been called up, this is definitely the most exciting, knowing that I'm going to be here for an extended period of time,” he said.
Right-hander Bartolo Colon (12-7, 3.35 ERA) will start for the Mets. In his career, Colon is 4-1 with a 4.01 ERA against Cincinnati in six starts. He got a no-decision in his lone appearance against the Reds this year, giving up three runs in five innings on April 26 in New York.
Cincinnati (57-78) took two of three from the wild-card contending St. Louis Cardinals over the weekend at Great American Ball Park. Meanwhile, the Mets (71-66) won two of three against the Nationals to climb within one game of St. Louis in the race for the second NL wild card.
The Reds might be without a key contributor Monday, as center fielder Billy Hamilton left the Sunday game due to a strained left oblique muscle.