In the end, it wasn't all that complicated. Michael Conforto is better than Eric Campbell, which is why Campbell was optioned back to Triple-A Las Vegas before Monday night's game to make room for the returning Michael Cuddyer.

"We're looking to play the best nine players we can in any given game and [Conforto] qualifies in those instances, particularly against righthanded pitchers," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. "So we decided to hold on to him."

How the Mets plan to use Conforto and Cuddyer remains a developing situation. Cuddyer was the starting leftfielder before going on the disabled list July 22 with a bruised left knee -- prompting the Mets to call up Conforto -- but now Cuddyer is more of a wild card.

Neither Alderson nor Terry Collins would refer to leftfield as a straight platoon, but the Mets are inclined to start Conforto against righthanders, as they did Monday night against the Rockies' Jon Gray. With the Rockies starting lefties the next two nights, Collins plans to start Cuddyer -- somewhere, if not in left. One alignment suggested by the manager was Yoenis Cespedes in left, Juan Lagares in center and Cuddyer in right. Of course, Cuddyer also can spell Lucas Duda at first against lefties.

Either way, it looks as if Cuddyer's playing time is going to be reduced -- depending on his performance -- and Collins spoke to him before the game so they would be on the same page.

Cuddyer, who signed a two-year, $21-million contract last November, is the fifth-highest- paid Met but has a career-low .683 OPS and is hitting .179 (14-for-78) with runners in scoring position.

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"Like I said from Day One," he said, "I'm up for whatever."

Another factor is how Cuddyer's knee is able to handle the final eight weeks of the season. He may be back from the DL, but Cuddyer didn't want to give a percentage on how it's feeling.

"I never use percentages because I don't really know how to define that," he said. "I use that you can play or you can't play. I can play."

In what role, and for how long, is to be determined. The Mets have been surprised by Conforto's defensive ability in leftfield, and now he's likely to get the majority of time there as the lefty-hitting half of this quasi-platoon.

"I think I've learned a lot," said Conforto, who is batting .205 with a home run and eight RBIs in 12 games. "I don't know what the situation is going to be, but I think I can still continue to grow and I'll learn as a player just being around these guys."

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With Brian Heyman