New York Mets' Angel Pagan watches his two-run single off...

New York Mets' Angel Pagan watches his two-run single off Cleveland Indians pitcher Mitch Talbot in the sixth inning. (June 16, 2010) Credit: AP

Angel Pagan has talked about his newfound maturity as a player. That seemingly is also true when it comes to injuries.

The oft-injured Pagan felt a spasm in his right side before last night's 5-0 win over the Tigers and said he felt it tugging at him when he swung the bat his first three times up. So Pagan told Jerry Manuel to take him out in the last of the seventh.

Manuel said Pagan would sit out tonight's series finale with the Tigers, and Pagan himself said the spasm would require a couple of days' rest.

"In a situation like this, the way we're playing, you've got to be smart sometimes," Pagan said after going 0-for-2 with a walk. "Just learning from past injuries, I've gone through these pains before, and it only gets worse. We're playing too good for me to lose a couple of months."

Pagan lost his 10-game hit streak last night and his average dipped to .302, but he's been on a tear, raising his average from .241 since May 5. He was in the spotlight on Tuesday, when questions about Carlos Beltran's possible return were posed to him; he cited his health so far as a reason why he's going to make it tough to remove him from the lineup if and when Beltran returns.

But Pagan had a large heating pad on his right side before last night's game, between his indoor and outdoor batting practice sessions. He said he tried to loosen it up, but he felt it twinge when he flew out to center in the fifth and he went to Manuel in the seventh, when the Mets were tacking on three runs to a 2-0 lead.

"I just went to him and said, 'Skip, I'm not feeling right,'" said Pagan, who spent six weeks on the disabled list last season with a groin injury and had shoulder and elbow surgeries within the past two years. "It's not a DL stop, believe me. I couldn't swing the bat hard.

You're trying to be smart, trying to keep yourself in the game."

Jesus Feliciano, who knocked in a run with a groundout in the seventh, likely will start in center Thursday night and possibly Friday when the Twins come to Citi Field. Pagan's health is now arguably more important than Beltran's, given what Pagan has done so far this season, his healthiest of five in the majors.

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