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Slumping Ike Davis strikes out four more times

Ike Davis of the Mets walks back to

Ike Davis of the Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out in the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field. (May 24, 2013) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Rock bottom looked like this.

In his first three at-bats against the Braves Friday night, Ike Davis flailed helplessly at a series of curveballs, just as he has throughout his failure of a season.

In his fourth plate appearance, Davis struck out on a 93- mph fastball on the outer half of the plate, exposing yet another of his recurring issues.

On a soggy evening at Citi Field, the boos cascaded down from the stands, interrupted only by mock cheers after Davis managed a foul ball. And by the end of the evening, his claim to a roster spot appeared even more tenuous.

Asked how long the Mets can afford to stick with Davis, manager Terry Collins responded with uncertainty.

"I'm not sure,'' he said shortly after rain forced the suspension of play with the score tied 5-5 before the ninth.

The game, called after a 75- minute delay, will be resumed at 6:10 p.m. Saturday just before the scheduled 7:10 p.m. contest against the Braves.

When play begins, Davis will arrive at the ballpark with his average all the way down to .143, the result of an 0-for-4 night with four strikeouts. He has one hit in his last 42 at-bats.

Davis appears nearly out of time to convince the Mets to spare him a demotion to Triple-A Las Vegas. He appears unlikely to play in the regularly scheduled game against Braves lefthander Mike Minor, leaving perhaps only Sunday's series finale as his last chance to show improvement.

Before the game, Collins insisted that Davis had yet to reach a critical point. According to the manager, the team had yet to call Davis in for a meeting about a potential demotion, nor had the Mets discussed alternatives at first base.

"If Ike's not here, we have several options,'' Collins said. "Now have we discussed them? No, because he's the first baseman still.''

But that might not be reality come Memorial Day, according to a team source, who indicated some hesitation about keeping a struggling Davis around for the Subway Series against the Yankees.

Certainly, the Mets had plenty of other groan-worthy issues to deal with Friday night.

Though they rallied to tie the score at 5-5 in the eighth, thanks to an RBI single by Daniel Murphy and a wild pitch by Braves reliever Anthony Varvaro, the Mets again found a way to deprive starter Jeremy Hefner of a victory.

Hefner (0-5) allowed two runs in six innings and departed with the lead, but the bullpen turned a 3-2 advantage into a 5-3 deficit. Dan Uggla's solo homer off LaTroy Hawkins tied it in the seventh and Evan Gattis' pinch-hit single off Greg Burke knocked in two runs in the eighth. The Mets then answered before umpires suspended play before the ninth.

So for another day, Davis will find himself in the crosshairs.

If he is sent to the minors, the Mets could move leftfielder Lucas Duda to first base, his natural position. The job also could fall to righthanded-hitting utilityman Justin Turner.

The Mets' least complicated option could involve moving second baseman Murphy to first base, a natural transition that would keep him on the right side of the infield. The move also would give the Mets a chance to get an extended look at Jordany Valdespin, a natural second baseman.

"We've got options,'' Collins said, "but nobody's discussed anything about any replacements yet.''

Notes & quotes: Righthanded reliever Jeurys Familia (right biceps tendinitis) might be nearing a return to the Mets. Familia is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment today with Class A Port St. Lucie. But righthander Frank Francisco (right elbow inflammation) appears no closer to a return after suffering a setback earlier this month . . . The resumption of the suspended game might not be broadcast on television because of logistical issues . . . John Buck hit his 11th home run, a solo shot off Kris Medlen in the fourth inning . . . Duda had a run-scoring single in the first inning.

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