Apr 16

April 16.10: Paging Carlos Beltran.

General manager Omar Minaya gave us a projection early this month that Carlos Beltran would be back around late May, which was four to six weeks after resuming baseball activities.

Well, that time frame is right now and Beltran hasn’t even begun running. Based on what’s going on, we might be looking now at June if not July and the All-Star break.

Fact is, Beltran, if he hasn’t started running, doesn’t have any real timetable. They can say four to six weeks from baseball activities all night, but they have no idea when that will be.

Would it surprise you if we didn’t see Beltran to the second half of the season if at all? Wouldn’t shock me.

Part of the fallout of Beltran’s absence is the issue of Jose Reyes batting third.

Here’s what Jeff Francoeur has to say about it: “I don’t want to see that. Not at all. He’s the most dynamic leadoff hitter in the game, and I want to see him there. Who knows what we’ll do? But I’m just saying, he’s never been really a run producer. He’s been more of a guy to score 150 runs. … I’m just saying, I think he’s the most dynamic leadoff hitter in the league… Reyes has always hit leadoff to me for a reason. He’s the best. He gets on base, steals, makes things happen.’’

Jerry Manuel says he wants Reyes to maintain his same approach in the three hole. It will never happen because the demands and job description batting third differ from batting first. Reyes gets into trouble when he plays outside himself and attempts to loft the ball instead of hitting it on the ground and line drives into the gap.

You will see a definite change in Reyes’ approach if they go ahead with this.

The No. 3 hitter should be the team’s best hitter, which is to say the best combination of average and power, and that’s David Wright.

There is nobody who comes close to being able to do what Reyes does as the leadoff hitter. For years we’ve been hearing how Reyes is the catalyst to the Mets offense. Why would they want to tinker with that?

Apr 13

April 13.10: Line-up and notes; Reyes still leading off.

Good for Jerry Manuel not to tinker with his struggling line-up by dropping Jose Reyes to the three hole. At least let Reyes get into some kind of groove before doing anything.

Personally, I still want Reyes leading off where he can do the most good. Better to leave Reyes where he is. Let’s look at it this way. If Reyes doesn’t bat third they still have a good option in David Wright. But, if Reyes doesn’t bat first, where do they go?

Why create a problem in the leadoff slot if you don’t have to?

Here’s tonight’s line-up for the Mets (2-4):

Jose Reyes, SS
Luis Castillo, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Jason Bay, LF
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Fernando Tatis, 1B
Rod Barajas, C
Angel Pagan, CF
John Maine, RP

NOTES: Lefties Johan Santana and Oliver Perez will stay on schedule, meaning the latter won’t be skipped to keep the former at every fifth day. … Jon Niese goes tomorrow followed by Mike Pelfrey Thursday against the Rockies. … Carlos Delgado, who is rehabbing from hip surgery in Colorado, visited the clubhouse this afternoon. … Many of the Mets, who are hitting .245 as a team and .189 with runners in scoring position, took early batting practice. … As a bonding exercise, most of the team took in the Nuggets game Monday night.

NOTE FROM ME: For the next few months I am taking a night class. I will be in the Chat Room tonight, but won’t get there until nine. So, you’ll have to do the first inning without me. Thanks-JD

Apr 12

April 12.10: What to make of the first week?

To be sure six games is too small a sampling to get a definitive feel about the Mets. However, it isn’t too small to quash some first impressions.

Among them:

1) The preseason concerns on John Maine. As has been the case with Maine, he throws far too many pitches and labors with his command. He gets his second start tomorrow in Colorado, a place where it is not easy to pitch. Maine is No. 2 in the rotation currently and insists his shoulder is fine. OK, but his velocity is down and control is off. Not good and there have been little signs of turning it around.

2) Oliver Perez is Oliver Perez, which is to say he’s an enigma. Through his first five innings Saturday he threw 12-24-12-24-12 pitches. He walked four or which two of the runners scored. Perez will live and die with his command. When he worked quickly his control was good, but get a runner or two on base and he takes forever and his ball can go anywhere. Perez is not the pitcher you bet on.

3) The offense is as spotty as it was last year. Hitting with runners in scoring position seems to be a foreign concept. It’s not too many games in which they’ll hit four homers.

4) Mike Jacobs is Mike Jacobs. He’s always been a streaky hitter and so far he’s gotten off to a slow start. Maybe the homer Sunday will get him on track. Colorado is often a good place for a hitter, or an offense, to get hot.

5) Until David Wright hits the inside pitch he’s going to be pounded inside and handcuffed. When Wright is on he drives the ball the opposite way, but he’s not getting many pitches on the outside half of the plate. He needs to pull a few to keep the hitters honest.

6) The bullpen will be a key. So far it has been outstanding, and perhaps the biggest reason why these games have been competitive. Fernando Nieve and Pedro Feliciano are in competition for the eighth inning role. If the bullpen can maintain the Mets will be all right. However, it can’t keep throwing three innings a game. That will add up before you know it.

7) I’m not worried about Jason Bay. No homers so far, but he’s making contact and I love his hustle. He’ll be fine.

Apr 09

April 9.10: Notes and lineup; Jacobs moved out of clean-up.

Jose Reyes is in Citi Field. He will work out and is scheduled to be activated from the disabled list for tomorrow’s game against Washington. Ruben Tejada will be optioned to make room.

Luis Castillo tweaked his calf last night and won’t play tonight. Alex Cora will replace him at second base. Tejada won’t play second because the Mets want him to be comfortable at one position.

Jerry Manuel moved Mike Jacobs out of the clean-up slot, batting him fifth between Jason Bay and Jeff Francoeur.

Here’s tonight’s lineup for the Mets (1-2):

Angel Pagan, CF
Alex Cora, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Jason Bay, LF
Mike Jacobs, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
Ruben Tejada, SS
Mike Pelfrey, RP

Apr 08

Carlos Beltran to begin running; tonight’s lineup.

Carlos Beltran is supposed to begin running this weekend, and if there is no setback, the clock will begin on him.

Originally, the Mets said four to six weeks for his return after beginning baseball activities. That puts him at the end of May.

That’s just an estimate. The Mets, like all teams, won’t put a specific date for a return from an injury.

Expect the Mets to be ultra-conservative with Beltran, especially considering what happened this winter. If anything, they’ll keep him out longer than needed.

In other injury news, Jose Reyes will play in a Florida State League game tonight, and if there are no complications he should be activated Saturday.

LINEUP

Well, Jerry Manuel said he wanted to get everybody in a game by the end of the homestand. Four new starters tonight for the Mets behind Jon Niese against the Marlins.

Mets (1-1)

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Jason Bay, LF
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Fernando Tatis, 1B
Rod Barajas, C
Ruben Tejada, SS
Jon Niese, LP