Mets jettison struggling Hernandez

The New York Mets released struggling right-hander Livan Hernandez on Thursday, clearing roster space to activate former closer Billy Wagner.

Hernandez, 34, was 7-8 with a 5.47 ERA but had been especially poor over his last three starts, allowing 18 earned runs in 14a innings. He allowed six runs in a 10-1 loss to San Francisco on Monday, and the Mets went 2-10 in his last 12 starts.

Wagner, who has not pitched since Aug. 2, 2008, was expected to miss the entire season after Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. The 38-year-old recovered much more quickly than expected, and the Mets plan to showcase him over the next week in hopes of generating trade interest.

The departure of Hernandez, who helped the Florida Marlins win the 1997 World Series, leaves another hole in a porous starting rotation. New York already is missing Jonathon Niese with a torn hamstring tendon and John Maine with a shoulder injury.

Manuel said Tim Redding will make a spot start Saturday against Philadelphia. With the Mets well out of playoff contention in a season brought to pieces by injuries, Manuel said it’s also possible the club will look at some young arms after rosters expand Sept. 1.

“From a manger’s point of view, I probably always want to see youth at this point, but it has to be the right timing,” Manuel said. “The player development people have to say a young player will come into this situation and not be hurt by it.”

Morneau not improving

Twins first baseman Justin Morneau missed his third straight game and returned to Minnesota to be examined by a specialist for an infection of his inner ear.

Morneau has experienced dizziness from the ear problem since last weekend. He is scheduled to see an ear-nose-and-throat doctor today.

Myers sharp in rehab stint

Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Brett Myers struck out three in his first rehab appearance since having hip surgery nearly three months ago, an outing pushed back five days because of a fall.

Myers was scheduled to pitch Saturday but he fell stepping out of his car Friday night and injured his eye. Initially Myers said he was hurt playing catch with his 4-year-old son.

Pitching for Class A Clearwater on Thursday he gave up two hits and threw 13 of his 19 pitches for strikes.

Rizzo interim GM no longer

Mike Rizzo has taken over as the Washington Nationals’ general manager, 20-plus years after becoming a scout.

Rizzo had been serving as Washington’s acting GM since Jim Bowden resigned March 1.

Now Rizzo is the team’s full-fledged GM and senior vice president of baseball operations.

He joined the Nationals as assistant GM in July 2006, after seven seasons with Arizona.

Short hops

First baseman Jorge Cantu was scratched from the Florida Marlins’ game at Houston with stiffness in his neck. ... Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips left the game against San Francisco because of a sore left wrist. ... Outfielder Garret Anderson left the Atlanta Braves’ game against the Mets with a lower back strain.. ... Pitchers Nestor de Leon and Ramon Rodriguez, minor leaguers in the New York Yankees’ organization, were suspended for 50 games each after positive drug tests.