NEW YORK -- The injury-riddled New York Mets got back the first of their many missing pieces Saturday as infielderJose Reyes was activated from the disabled list after missing the minimum 15 days with a left oblique strain.
Reyes played shortstop and was hitting in the leadoff spot against the San Diego Padres.
Manager Terry Collins said two other missing starters will begin rehab assignments and likely return to the club in the coming week.
Slugger Yoenis Cespedes (quad) will play in rehab games beginning Monday, meet the team on the West Coast on Thursday and play Friday in San Francisco. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera (knee tendon) will begin rehab games Tuesday and also is targeted to return during the series against the Giants.
"Those guys cannot get back at a better time," Collins said. "We need them. We need their leadership, besides their playing ability."
Reyes has been keeping up with the team as it has stumbled through a four-game losing streak and fallen below .500 for the first time since April 17. And he heard about Collins challenging the team's effort and passion in a closed-door meeting Thursday.
"We need to win some ballgames. We need to find a way to win some games, hopefully starting tonight," Reyes said. "We need to put it together. Like Terry said, it doesn't matter who's here. You know, I remember 2006. I mean, we had maybe 10 guys injured in 2006 and we still made it to the playoffs, so it's no excuse. Whoever is here has to contribute. We have to turn it around for sure sooner than later."
Reyes will be the starting shortstop until Cabrera comes back. Then he is expected to move to third base or maybe even the outfield.
"We need that energy," Collins said of Reyes. "He's trying to revitalize his career, and he's in the right place for that. If anybody loves to play in New York and come through, it's Jose Reyes."
Reyes began the season with the Rockies and served a 51-game suspension under MLB's domestic abuse policy. When the suspension ended, Colorado released him and he signed with the Mets. In 16 games with New York, he has a .770 OPS with nine extra-base hits and three steals in four attempts.
"To win games, you have to score runs. We need to find a way to score more than three or four runs," Reyes said. "You cannot always rely on your pitching. I mean, you have to make something happen on the field ... start running and make life easy for the pitcher. Whoever scores runs in this game is going to win a lot of ballgames."
Niese is managing a cartilage issue in his left knee that required it to be drained when he was with the Pirates earlier this season.
"I've been working at it, getting it stronger and it feels good now," Niese said. "Sticking with getting back into a routine now and hopefully that will work."