Ike Davis did not start against a lefthanded pitcher for the third straight time last night as the Mets faced Jeff Francis of the Rockies.

It's not a platoon thing, though, because the rookie was batting .276 vs. lefties and .243 vs. righthanders. It's a "get Mike Hessman some at-bats and keep Davis from wearing down" thing.

After batting .214 (but with six home runs) in July, Davis was batting .304 in August. Overall, his .251-15-54 numbers are impressive for a player in only his third professional season.

"I think the one thing he has done is for such a short professional career he has established himself as a major-league player," Jerry Manuel said. "That's very difficult to do. I think as he continues to play at this level, he will have to make adjustments to get to the level of projection that everybody has for him. And I think he will do that."

Davis is second on the Mets in home runs and RBIs. He began last night with 99 games played; his high in the minors was 114 in 2009. So the Mets are trying to make sure he doesn't wear down in the season's final two months.


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Tall order

Manuel said he was considering giving David Wright or Jose Reyes Thursday off. One thing that could push his decision along to rest a regular was a good night last night from a bench player such as Hessman, he said.

"Let's say Hessman hits three home runs," Manuel said. "Hessman hits three home runs, David struggles a little bit, we win . . . Hessman's playing third tomorrow."


Ollie in?

Manuel said Oliver Perez had an "outside" chance to replace Hisanori Takahashi and start Saturday against the Phillies. More likely is lefthander Pat Misch, who is 11-4 with a 3.23 ERA at Triple-A Buffalo. Misch threw five shutout innings Tuesday and was pulled after just 55 pitches.


Trainer's room

Manuel said catcher Rod Barajas, out since July 25 with a strained oblique muscle, is ready to begin playing in rehab games.