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Struggling Ike Davis in 8th hole, could be demoted at any time

Ike Davis of the Mets stands in the

Ike Davis of the Mets stands in the dugout after the top of the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field. (May 22, 2013) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Ike Davis arrived at the ballpark as he does most other days. He changed into his workout clothes, set aside tickets for a few friends, then took his turns in the batting cage. But when he checked the starting lineup, he caught a glimpse of something far removed from his regular routine.

For the first time in his major-league career, Davis found himself hitting eighth, one slot before pitcher Matt Harvey for Tuesday night's Subway Series game against the Yankees.

"That's life," said Davis, who began the evening hitting a paltry .155.

Indeed, life this season has been rife with failure at the plate, so much so that the first baseman's roster spot is in jeopardy. He could be demoted any day, especially if he fails to show some improvement. Davis' move down in the lineup is the latest sign that the Mets may be losing their patience.

"The way Ike's been swinging, you hope he breaks out any minute," manager Terry Collins said before the game. "He's the guy to go to eighth. I don't want him to change anything except to keep his head in there and hopefully get a good pitch to hit."

Collins framed the lineup swap of a larger chain reaction as he adjusted his struggling offense to face righthander Hiroki Kuroda, who has emerged as the Yankees' de facto ace.

As part of the reshuffling, Collins started righthanded-hitting Marlon Byrd in the fifth spot behind the lefty Lucas Duda. Byrd entered the game 3-for-6 lifetime against Kuroda.

"We came in today and I've seen Kuroda in Japan," Collins said. "We've watched a lot of film here. I know he's very tough. We thought we'd play Marlon."

Meanwhile, Collins slotted the lefty Rick Ankiel in the sixth spot followed by John Buck in the seventh, leaving Davis to hit in front of the pitcher Harvey. Davis had been hitting seventh, but keeping him in that spot would have forced Collins to stack lefthanded hitters.

Such an alignment would have left the Mets vulnerable late in the game to Yankees lefty specialist Boone Logan.

Said Collins: "I wanted to split up the lefties so Logan didn't have it set up."

That left Davis as the odd man out.

Of course, the slumping Davis could save his spot in the lineup by finally heating up. However, Collins said the first baseman has hurt himself by chasing breaking balls in the dirt, one of several maladies affecting Davis during his horrendous start.

The Mets need badly for a player to emerge as legitimate protection for No. 3 hitter David Wright. The Mets expected Davis to fill that void as an anchor in the middle of the lineup. Instead, he entered play last night with just four homers and 11 RBIs. And with runners in scoring position, Davis was hitting .114 (5-for-44).

He has long lost his grip on the cleanup spot and may lose more if his lack of production lingers on past his latest setback.

Davis achieved some measure of redemption on Sunday, when his two-run single powered a Mets victory against the Braves. However, he struck out three times in three at-bats in the opener of the Subway Series Monday night and fanned in his first two at-bats against Kuroda last night.

With rumors swirling about a demotion, Davis entered the night hitting .150 (3-for-20) on the homestand.

New York Sports