"I'm happy to be back," he said. "I'm ready to help the team."
Chavez affirmed that he feels 100 percent after a hamstring pull that caused him to miss nearly half the season, and the stats back that up. In five rehab games with the Gulf Coast and St. Lucie Mets, Chavez batted .550 with six RBIs.
He was hitting .292 in 47 games before the injury, a year after becoming something of a Mets cult hero for his game-saving catch in last October's National League Championship Series.
So to sit in Florida unable to play had been eating at Chavez for some time. He said that the toughest part was lying around for five weeks only to find that the pain -- initially expected to sideline him only for a month -- hadn't subsided one bit.
"It was terrible," Chavez said. "Sometimes you get disappointed and frustrated. It's not fun. It's something that nobody expected -- but that's in the past."
Of course, his newfound health comes with a catch. Should the Mets activate Chavez before rosters expand on Sept. 1, another Met will be forced to lose his roster spot. Of the team's current bench players, only Lastings Milledge and Ruben Gotay could head to the Minors without clearing waivers -- but the Mets would be wary to part ways with Milledge, who has been starting regularly in right field.
So the Mets could either drop a pitcher and play with a shorthanded staff for a week, or simply wait to activate Chavez until Sept. 1.
Deep sixed: Carlos Delgado's drop on Friday from fifth to sixth in the lineup may not make a whole lot of difference in his day-to-day operations.
"I just go to the plate a minute later," he said, shrugging off the move's implications.
Yet there are implications. Delgado hasn't been the same hitter since missing four games last week with a hyperextended left knee, going hitless in 13 ensuing at-bats and stranding 12 runners over the past two games. That slump has lowered his season average to .247, while he's averaging a home run only every 25.4 at-bats. He went deep nearly twice as often last season, once every 13.8 at-bats.
And those numbers were enough reason for a lineup switch.
"I have the luxury of having great hitters in my lineup," said manager Willie Randolph, who put left fielder Moises Alou in Delgado's normal fifth slot. "Moises Alou's a pretty good hitter, too."
Alou, by contrast, has hit .346 over the past two weeks.
Infield issues: Second baseman Luis Castillo was absent from the Mets lineup on Friday, a day after banging his right knee on a slide into third base in the ninth inning.
He said after the game on Thursday that he felt fine and would be ready to play the next day. Yet Randolph held him back, and Castillo will instead spend his Friday night in the dugout, stretching the leg and receiving massage treatment.
"It's nothing serious," Randolph said. "It's a nice time to give him a day off. He's been going at it pretty good."
Record thievery: A day after Jose Reyes established a new team single-season record, the Mets hit their own new high on Thursday night when David Wright stole the club's 160th base of the year. The Mets added four more in that game to push the mark to 164, shattering the old record of 159 steals, set in 1987.
Combined, Wright and Reyes entered Friday's play with 96 steals, more than every National League team other than Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
Down on the farm: Paul Lo Duca's first Minor League rehab game with Class A Brooklyn was washed out on Thursday night. Lo Duca was scheduled to catch the first half and DH in the second half of Friday's makeup doubleheader, before moving on to Double-A Binghamton over the weekend. ... First baseman Mike Carp homered and drove in four runs in Binghamton's 9-2 victory over Trenton, the club that's leading its Eastern League division by 10 1/2 games.
Coming up: Orlando Hernandez meets rookie Eric Stults on Saturday in the second of two games between the Mets and Dodgers at Shea. First pitch for the FOX Game of the Week is slated for 3:55 p.m. ET.