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Jacobs hopes to make powerful statement

Mike Jacobs has been crushing the ball in batting practice this week and hit some very loud foul home runs in Wednesday's game against the Marlins.

"That's not a good sign," Jacobs said before last night's series finale.

He was joking. It actually is a good sign when the lefthanded slugger is nearly slugging, even if it didn't count or wasn't fair.

"I think it means I'm close," Jacobs said.

Jacobs, the Mets' cleanup hitter against righthanders for the season's first two games, did not start last night against Florida lefthander Nate Robertson. He was 1-for-9 in the first two games batting between David Wright and Jason Bay.

"There's definitely protection," Jacobs said. "It's going to definitely help me. All in all, it's a good place to be hitting in our lineup."

Whether Jacobs should be there instead of Bay is a minor debate around the Mets. Manager Jerry Manuel said he's going to stick with Jacobs in the cleanup spot against righthanders for the time being. "I like a lineup that can go left-right, left-right, left-right," Manuel sald. "I think it creates some issues for the opposing pitcher as well as the opposing manager." But he added, "That could change."

Reyes close

Jose Reyes went 0-for-4 and played all nine innings in what the Mets hope will be his final rehab game for St. Lucie in a Florida State League game last night. If all went well physically, his next appearance will be in the big-league lineup Saturday.

Extra bases

At 20 years and 219 days old, Ruben Tejada (0-for-2, HBP) became the youngest player to start a big-league game at shortstop since B.J. Upton (20 years, 40 days) played for Tampa Bay on Sept. 30, 2004 . . . Ryota Igarashi made his debut and threw a scoreless inning . . . Probables for the Nationals series: Friday night, Mike Pelfrey vs. Garrett Mock; Saturday, Oliver Perez vs. John Lannan; Sunday, Johan Santana vs. Livan Hernandez.

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