NEW YORK -- The Mets were relatively confident in early June that Moises Alou would be a full-time participant by early July. That, general manager Omar Minaya said, would afford the ample time to judge his readiness for late stages of the division race and to determine whether the Mets needed to pursue a player before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Now, after yet another setback -- tendinitis in his right shoulder -- Alou is no better than a late July returnee with the ever-present asterisk for "maybe."
An MRI administered on Monday, the day before Alou was to end his protracted assignment to the disabled list, postponed his return until at least Thursday and added more uncertainty to the Mets' summer horizon. As the team prepared to play its 99th game against the Pirates on Tuesday night at Shea Stadium, the club was unsure about Alou, their second-base situation and, when all was said and done, Pedro Martinez as well.
All that uncertainty is in place as the trading deadline looms next Tuesday.
Martinez's condition is unchanged, but now it seems likely he won't return to the big leagues until September unless his time pitching in baseball's rehab program is less than 30 days. Minaya said on Tuesday that Martinez will pitch at least one more time in simulated conditions before pitching in a Minor League game, and the simulated game hasn't been scheduled yet.
Martinez pitched three innings and threw 50 pitches in simulated conditions on Monday in Port St. Lucie, Fla., so his next step probably won't happen until Friday at the earliest. That means his first Minor League appearance probably won't happen until the first days of August.
Minaya nonetheless said "I still expect him help us win games this year," but he also spoke with concern. "He worked so hard and advanced so much, we had to pull him back," the general manager said. Minaya also said he wasn't sure how to read Martinez's recent progress. "It's amazing he is where he is right now," he said. "But we can't exactly where that is. He has to read how his body responds."
Alou's situation is of more immediate concern. It was Minaya who, weeks ago, said he felt confident his oft-injured, 41-year-old left fielder would be playing well before the deadline. The Mets had revised their thinking and expected Alou back Tuesday, but his final swing in a rehab game in Brooklyn on Sunday caused pain and, eventually, and other delay.
Alou was discussing his situation at his locker on Tuesday afternoon when someone asked him, "Have you ever had this [shoulder tendinitis] previously?" And his response was, appropriately, "I've had everything."
His problems this season have been contained to the right knee, the left quad and now the shoulder. Minaya said, "I'm not worried [about Alou], but I wish he was playing now."
That Chip has sailed: Although the Mets didn't activate Alou, they did make a roster move, ending the assignment of Damion Easley to the bereavement list -- Easley's father died Saturday and Easley had been so assigned since last Tuesday. To accommodate Easley on the 25-man roster, the club designated Chip Ambres for assignment, two days after he delivered the decisive run in the Mets' 5-4, 10-inning victory in Los Angeles.
With Easley back, the Mets had four second basemen -- Easley, Ruben Gotay, Marlon Anderson and Anderson Hernandez. Anderson is not likely to play second often, and Hernandez is likely to return to the Minor Leagues when Alou is activated.
This date in Mets history -- July 25: In seven seasons and 104 starts in the big leagues, Tracey Stallard pitched three shutouts. The first happened on this date in 1964 when he was a member of the Mets. Three years removed giving up Roger Maris' 61st home run of the 1961 season, Stallard pitched a three-hitter against the Braves in the Mets' 10-0 victory at Shea Stadium. ... Five years later, the Mets scored three times against the Reds in the eighth inning on two ground-ball outs and a double by J.C. Martin and won, 4-3, at Shea. The one-run victory came in the fifth of six consecutive one-run games. The Mets won three of them. They lost nine of their first 14 one-run games and then win 35 of 46 one-run games during that championship season.
With one swing as the third batter of the game, Steve Henderson produced a double, the only extra-base hit and the lone run in the Mets' victory, a three-hitter by Craig Swan, in Los Angeles on July 25, 1977. ... Two years later, Swan shut out the Giants at Candlestick Park, pitching a six-hitter in the Mets' 3-0 victory. ... And on this date in 1984, the first-place Mets defeated the Cardinals, 9-3, at Shea for their sixth victory in a seven-game streak that would put them 4 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Cubs. Darryl Strawberry hit a three-run home run against Kurt Kepshire, and Eddie Lynch earned a four-inning save.
Coming up: Tom Glavine (8-6, 4.51 ERA) makes his second run at career victory No. 299 on Wednesday night at 7:10 p.m. ET when he pitches against the Pirates at Shea Stadium. Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny (9-5, 3.20 ERA) starts for the Pirates.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.