WASHINGTON - It was wishful thinking on Jerry Manuel's part to believe that Jose Reyes, scratched Wednesday with a muscle strain in his right side, would be ready for last night's opener against the Nationals.
That became painfully evident when he showed up sore again Thursday and described his condition as similar to what had sidelined Angel Pagan for six of the previous seven games. "It's still a little bit sore," Reyes said. "I'll take another day off and see how I feel after the treatment. I know what happened last year when I tried to be in the lineup, so I have to be careful with this."
Pagan, however, showed enough improvement in batting practice that Manuel decided to use him as a pinch runner in the sixth inning, and he stayed in until the end of the 2-1 loss to the Nationals. Pagan played centerfield and even batted lefthanded, which had been a problem for him. After passing that test, he believes he can start today, a day earlier than Manuel expected. "I was pain-free," Pagan said. "That means I'll be ready to play [Friday]. I can tell you that I'm close to 100 percent." Manuel still was leaning toward waiting until Saturday before returning Reyes to the starting lineup, however.
Beltran up Monday?
Manuel suggested that Carlos Beltran could rejoin the team as soon as Monday for the Reds series at Citi Field. The Mets will have a better read on his condition after he plays back-to-back games this weekend.
for the Reds' series at Citi Field or even as late as after the All-Star break, depending on what the Mets' decision-makers determine after he plays back-to-back games this weekend. The manager does not think that Beltran needs to see any pitching above Class A, however.
"I'm a believer that the quicker you get major league pitching the quicker you adjust," Manuel said.
David Wright is expected to get one of the next three games in Washington off before the Mets return home . . . Manuel said Josh Thole will catch R.A. Dickey tomorrowSaturday night. The manager was assured by the Buffalo staff that Thole handled the knuckleballer well . . . Oliver Perez's velocity was in the 89-92 mph range during Wednesday's rehab start, which Manuel called "encouraging."