PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Manager Jerry Manuel said he hopes to settle on a batting-order sequence by March 25. The participation of David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado in the World Baseball Classic and the need to "freshen up" those players after they return will prevent Manuel from seeing and settling for some time.

But the batting order the Mets used on Saturday against the Nationals -- in what became a 6-2 loss -- had at least four players batting in the spots they are likely to fill in the regular season. Reyes batted leadoff, followed by Luis Castillo. Ramon Castro batted eighth, as he is likely to do when Brian Schneider doesn't play, and Mike Pelfrey batted ninth -- not second. Manuel had been using pitchers in the second slot this spring to make sure they were afforded opportunities to work on their sacrifice bunting.

Manuel still speaks of Reyes batting third, but few people on and around the team expect that to happen.

Reyes, who had one hit in nine at-bats in the Classic and three hitless at-bats on Saturday in his first appearance since the tournament, has merely 21 at-bats for the spring. And he won't have anymore in games until Wednesday.

"I need BP. I need to get my timing," Reyes said. "I don't need long trips."

So Reyes will skip the 45-minute trip to Jupiter, Fla., on Sunday and the four-hour round trip to Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday.

Johan Santana will miss the latter as well, pitching instead in a Minor League game at the Mets' complex. Jonathon Niese will make the trip to face the Braves on Tuesday, underscoring his rookie status as well as Santana's exalted status.