PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Angel Pagan's first day as the Mets' permanent centerfielder was an adventurous one.

Shortly after learning that Carlos Beltran had requested to be moved to right, Pagan started in center against the Nationals and homered off Chad Gaudin in his first at-bat of the Mets' 9-3 loss at Digital Domain Park.

That was the highlight. Defensively, Pagan lost one fly ball in the sun and barely caught another after he was temporarily blinded.

Pagan can handle centerfield - he played 94 games there last season - but there was added comfort in knowing that Beltran's situation had been resolved.

"I'd have to say yes," Pagan said, "because of the mental preparation of knowing where you're going to play."

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No stress for Pelfrey

Now that he's the de facto ace of the rotation for as long as Johan Santana remains on the shelf, Mike Pelfrey said there hasn't been much different about this spring training.

"Not really," he said. "Except that I know when I'm starting."

As the No. 1, Pelfrey can look forward to April 1 as the Opening Day starter against the Marlins. As for Monday, he shrugged off giving up five hits and two runs in three innings.

"I just wanted to attack the zone, and I did," he said. "I got my work in."

Extra bases

Terry Collins described Jason Isringhausen - who pitched a scoreless inning of relief in which he hit a batter - as a "front-runner" for the bullpen if he stays healthy . . . Bryce Harper, 18, the top pick in last year's draft, struck out in his two at-bats for the Nationals. He was one of Taylor Tankersley's three strikeout victims in the seventh, and Ryota Igarashi whiffed him with a splitter in the ninth.