By Ed Coleman
» More Columns

All in all, considering the recent releases of Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez, a rather quiet day for the Mets on Tuesday – but nothing is ever totally calm with this team. Angel Pagan had to leave the game against the Tigers in Lakeland in the second inning due to lower back soreness. Pagan apparently aggravated it during the 2 1/2 hour bus ride, but said it’s nothing serious.

Pagan is next expected to play on Thursday and says he’ll be ready. Jason Bay slid over from left field to center to take Pagan’s place and handled two chances flawlessly. Lucas Duda took over in left and took advantage of the situation, collecting 3 hits and scoring a run, continuing his push to make the team. And Nick Evans – who’s out of options – continues to impress as well. Evans went 2-3, including his 5th double, and is hitting .310.

The game turned on Willie Harris’ grand slam HR in the second inning. Harris is batting .317 with 9 RBI, knew he had to come to camp ready to play, and did.

Second base candidate Brad Emaus walked twice, stole a base, scored a run and hit into a double play. The Mets had 13 hits in a 7-4 win.

Pitching-wise, Jon Niese struggled but managed to get in 90+ pitches in 4 innings of work.

In that second inning, the Tigers scored all 4 of their runs on 4 of the 5 hits Niese allowed. He also walked one and struck out three. Five Met relievers combined to hold Detroit scoreless the rest of the way. Rule 5 draftee Pedro Beato pitched two scoreless, and Tim Byrdak and Taylor Buchholz both had 1-2-3 innings. Byrdak and Buchholz have yet to give up a run this spring, Byrdak over 7 1/3 innings – Buchholz over 12.

Jason Isringhausen will throw a bullpen session on Wednesday to see how his elbow feels. He threw on flat ground Tuesday and came out OK. Isringhausen explained the soreness doesn’t stem from the elbow ligament.

And Izzy is happy that he’s taken things this far this spring, and hopes it just continues.

And Johan Santana will increase his workload on Thursday – from 3 sets of throws on flat ground from 60 feet to four sets. It’s still projected that Santana will be able to throw off a mound sometime around May 1.

Carlos Beltran played in minor league games on Tuesday, going 2-8, hitting a double right-handed and a home run left-handed. Manager Terry Collins was enthused about the progress.

When and if Beltran plays in Grapefruit League games is still uncertain.

C U soon

Eddie C.