Technically, the Mets' lineup was indeed "whole" last night for the first time since May 20 of last year, when they played the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Reyes went down that night at Chavez Ravine and the Mets have been held together by surgical tape since.
Despite having all their players, the Mets could not overcome a rough outing by Mike Pelfrey, (10-5) who threw 74 pitches, 51 in a miserable first inning, and gave up six runs in a 13-2 loss.
“We’re talking about a young man that we felt was an All-Star pitcher,” Manuel said. “To have those outings that he’s had here lately, that’s really discouraging. He’s a guy that we’re counting very heavily down the stretch here to do what we need to do.”
Ian Kennedy (5-7) gave up a run and four hits through five innings to win his second straight decision after losing his previous four.
Seven players had at least one RBI for the Diamondbacks, who were coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of the Padres in San Diego. Mets shortstop Jose Reyes committed two errors in the first two innings.
Even now, Reyes is conscious of the right oblique strain that kept him out of the lineup for 11 of the previous 16 games.
But when Jerry Manuel filled out the lineup card for last night's game, he did so with a feeling of anticipation. There wasn't a bench player in the bunch.
"I think the tough thing is that it's July and they're just getting on the field," Manuel said. "That's the tough thing because I know they're all going to have some adjustments to make.
"But I think the good thing is that for the most part, they should be fresh. They should be hungry to play. You're just like anybody else. You're kind of anxious to see how that looks and how that works out."
The least of Manuel's concerns was probably Beltran, who went 4-for-12 with a double and triple in his first three games back before getting Sunday off. Castillo insists that he's feeling much better after landing on the disabled list June 4 with a bruised right heel, but that remains to be seen. Castillo's two bruised feet had bothered him so much that he spent his last week with the Mets painfully limping all over the field.
"It's stopped hurting," Castillo said. "I feel pretty good. I'm here now, so we'll see what happens."
Manuel also will be keeping his fingers crossed with Reyes, who hasn't been healthy since the Mets scratched him from that June 20 game in Puerto Rico. Reyes did attempt an earlier return, starting four games before the All-Star break, but was so limited that the switch hitter batted only from the right side.
Reyes is relieved to no longer have to give day-to-day updates about his sore right side or speculate when he might play again. Until he does make it through a few games, however, the injury will hang over his head to some degree - and be on the manager's mind.
"He's cleared to play," Manuel said. "I can't say that he's free and clear to charge the mound if somebody throws at him, to fight or whatever, but he's free and clear to hit, and to play, so we should be good tonight."
When asked if Reyes still felt some discomfort in the area, Manuel replied, "I think what the words were that they used was that he was symptom free and that he could play."
With Arizona starting three righthanders for this series, Manuel's initial plans for an "equitable" distribution of playing time are going to be shelved. Pagan has been one of the Mets' most-productive players and Manuel can't afford to bench him in favor of the more streaky Francoeur.
"It's going to be tough," Manuel said. "It depends on how we do. I'd like to try to get him in here, but at the same time, I know we're going to try and see what this [lineup] looks like for a period of time.
"You've got to give Angel every opportunity now, just like a starter versus a reliever. Frenchy's like a relief pitcher trying to get back into the starting rotation. That's kind of where he is."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.