Catcher Travis d'Arnaud expects to play against the Nationals Friday night when the National League East leaders start a three-game series at Citi Field.

D'Arnaud said he has recovered from the left elbow sprain that landed him on the disabled list June 23. He also was on the DL from April 21 to June 10 with a fractured right pinkie.

"I feel great. I'm just happy to be playing again and be up here," he said Thursday. "It was just a little fork in the road. I just kept my head on straight and my eyes on the prize."

Terry Collins said of d'Arnaud's progress: "They told me he [swung] the bat pretty well in rehabs. After he got hurt the first time, he came back and he continued to swing that bat. I think his confidence right now offensively is as good as it's ever been."

Collins said d'Arnaud will be eased back into the lineup. Kevin Plawecki will remain on the roster in a backup role and Anthony Recker was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas.

Concern over Colon?

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Collins said he doesn't know if it was the heat or just a lack of energy that accounted for Bartolo Colon's poor start Wednesday night against the Padres. He gave up six runs and 10 hits in 21/3 innings in the 7-3 loss.

Colon was coming off one of his better starts, allowing one run to the Dodgers in a 3-0 loss to Clayton Kershaw. Collins said all the Mets can do is "get him ready for his next start.''

Extra bases

Jerry Blevins (fractured left arm) has been given the go-ahead to begin throwing, but there is no timetable for his return . . . Rafael Montero (rotator cuff) will begin a throwing program . . . John Mayberry Jr. was released.