Pagan may stick in leadoff spot long-term

Pagan may lead off long-term

NEW YORK -- Angel Pagan has performed surprisingly well since he returned from the disabled list on July 10. He has been a presence -- and something of a force -- in the leadoff position, and he has played center field characteristically well.

Given Pagan's performance and how well he and Luis Castillo have produced as the Nos. 1 and 2 hitters, it is nearly impossible to envision anyone other than Pagan batting leadoff when the Mets play the first game in their four-game series against the Diamondbacks.

Chances are Pagan will shift to left field if and when Carlos Beltran returns to active duty. And when Jose Reyes returns, Pagan is likely to remain where he is in the batting order. Yes, even when Reyes' right hamstring allows him to resume his season, Pagan is likely to remain as the leadoff man.

Try that for size while the Mets oppose left-hander Doug Davis and Livan Hernandez attempts to continue his recent about-face.

Jerry Manuel indicated as much Thursday before the Mets' doubleheader split against the Rockies on Thursday. Still uncertain precisely when Reyes will return, Manuel acknowledged he is of a mind to revert to the plan he discussed early in Spring Training and have Reyes bat third.

"It's a possibility. ... I like the idea. It's a possibility," Manuel said.

In Spring Training, Manuel said, "Jose doesn't have to bat first to be a force and help us." That notion stands, he said Thursday night. But it isn't the primary reason the manager has envisioned a batting order that would include four switch-hitters at the top -- Pagan, Luis Castillo, Reyes and -- eventually -- Beltran. Now the idea of batting Reyes third has to do more with reducing the strain on his legs. Batting third, he would be less inclined to steal. Batting with extra-base power behind him, he might not need to score from second on a single.

"I do like the idea," Manuel said.

Pitching matchup
NYM: RHP Livan Hernandez (7-5, 4.87 ERA)
Hernandez allowed a walk and four consecutive hits in the first inning Sunday in Houston, leading to three runs. He escaped the inning because one runner was caught stealing and another was thrown out at the plate. He then pitched six scoreless innings, allowing four more baserunners. All that led to his second successive victory and renewed faith in his renaissance season. Now he faces one of his former teams, a team he has faced once since the beginning of the 2006 season. Hernandez beat the D-backs in the Metrodome as a member of the Twins on June 22 last year, allowing one earned run -- three overall -- and nine hits in seven innings. He has a 10-6 record in 18 career starts against Arizona, but most of the personnel he faced is gone now. Chad Tracy -- four hits, including two home runs, in 16 career at-bats -- is the only D-backs player with more than eight career at-bats against Hernandez.

ARI: LHP Doug Davis (5-10, 3.76 ERA)
Davis recovered nicely from poor outings in his two previous starts, when he shut out the Pirates through six innings of a 7-0 victory on Saturday. The victory was his third in 16 starts since his record stood at 2-3 on April 29. Davis still is battling his control, going to full counts on nine batters, but he managed to pitch out of trouble against the overanxious Pirates. Davis beat the Mets at Shea Stadium in 2007, allowing a run in 7 2/3 innings, and hasn't opposed them since then. David Wright, the leading batter in the National League against left-handed pitching most of the season and through Thursday afternoon, has a single, three strikeouts and a 0.91 average in 11 career at-bats against Davis. The other active Mets -- there are six of them -- have merely 36 at-bats against him.

Omir Santos started both games of the doubleheader, as Brian Schneider's knees made him mostly unavailable. Because the Mets had two games Thursday, they summoned catcher Robinson Cancel from their Triple-A Buffalo team. To create a vacancy for Cancel, the club designated pitcher Elmer Dessens for assignment. Cancel, who spent much of last season with the Mets, was batting .218 with nine RBIs in 193 at-bats with Buffalo. ... General manager Omar Minaya said he declined two proposed trades Wednesday and didn't disclose either one. Manuel said he didn't expect a deal before the 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline on Friday. Minaya made a point to say players still can be acquired after the Deadline. ... Castillo returned for the second game of the doubleheader, having missed the first game to be with his wife, Angie, as she gave birth. A daughter, Adonai, was born at 11:56 a.m. ... Wright extended his hitting streak to eight with an RBI double in the seventh inning of the first game. The hit, the 939th in his career, moved him into a tie with Keith Hernandez for 10th place on the club's all-time list. Wright doubled in the fourth inning of the second game, giving him 940 and pushing him past Hernandez. Jerry Grote is ninth in team history with 994 hits. ... With two RBIs in the first game, Wright now has 539 RBIs in his career, one more than Edgardo Alfonzo, putting him in sole possession of fifth place on the club's all-time list. Ed Kranepool is fourth on the list with 614. ... The day-night doubleheader was the fifth one in franchise history; they have now split all five. It was also the first doubleheader at Citi Field. The Mets played 30 doubleheaders at the Polo Grounds and 251 at Shea Stadium.

This date in Mets history, July 31: On this date in 1969, Tom Seaver took the third of four consecutive losses that dropped his record to 15-7. The Mets lost, 2-0, to the Astros at Shea. Seaver won his final 10 starts in what became the first of his three Cy Young seasons.

On this date in 1983, Jesse Orosco was the winning pitcher in both games of the Mets' 24-inning doubleheader sweep of the Pirates at Shea. Orosco pitched four innings in the 7-6, 12-inning victory in the first game and pitched the 12th in the 1-0 second game. Mookie Wilson scored the decisive run in the second game, coming from second base as the Pirates tried to turn an inning-ending double play.

The NL East-leading 1988 Mets won, 2-1, on this date, beating the second-place Pirates for the third consecutive game. Ron Darling allowed a run in the first inning, but Darryl Strawberry hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the inning. Darling pitched a six-hitter.

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Up next
• Saturday: Mets (Oliver Perez, 2-3, 7.42) vs. Diamondbacks (Max Scherzer, 6-6, 3.61), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Mets (Mike Pelfrey, 8-6, 4.72) vs. Diamondbacks (Jon Garland, 5-10, 4.42), 1:10 p.m. ET
• Monday: Mets (TBD) vs. Diamondbacks (Dan Haren, 10-6, 2.19), 7:10 p.m. ET

Marty Noble is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.