NEW YORK -- The Mets no longer care about mixing and matching their lineup. They simply care about results.

Rather than start struggling lefty Mike Jacobs at cleanup, the Mets have opted to bunch right-handers David Wright and Jason Bay together in the middle of the lineup.

Against right-handed Nationals starter Livan Hernandez on Sunday, the Mets could have batted Jacobs fourth, Bay fifth, switch-hitter Gary Matthews, Jr. sixth and the right-handed Jeff Francoeur seventh, thereby keeping their righties and lefties separated. But with Jacobs in a 1-for-11 funk to start the season, manager Jerry Manuel preferred to slot both Bay and Francoeur higher in the lineup.

Sunday also marked the second successive day that Matthews started in center field over Angel Pagan.

"The one good thing is they're still in there every day in some form or fashion," Manuel said, referring to the pinch-hit appearances his center fielders have received. "They're not missing at-bats or missing time on the field. I expect one of them to take off sooner or later."

More responsibility falls to Feliciano

NEW YORK -- The muscle strain that sidelined Mets reliever Sean Green this week had two direct effects: it sent Green to the disabled list, and it opened the door for Pedro Feliciano to become the team's exclusive setup man.

When the Mets placed Green on the disabled list Sunday morning with a right intercostal muscle strain, they also selected the contract of left-hander Raul Valdes from Triple-A Buffalo. That put three lefties in New York's bullpen, freeing Feliciano for eighth-inning duties.

"If you can have three lefties," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said, "it really can be beneficial in our division to have those guys."

Feliciano, a lefty specialist in each of his first seven big league seasons, publicly lobbied in Spring Training to set up games for closer Francisco Rodriguez. Now, with both Valdes and Hisanori Takahashi available to pitch to left-handed batters in the middle innings, the Mets can save their top lefty reliever for the eighth.

It's possible because of the injury to Green, who hasn't pitched since allowing a home run to Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla in his season debut on Wednesday. Green, who will travel to the team's Spring Training complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., to rehab the injury, will continue to receive treatment before progressing to baseball activities.

The move is retroactive to April 8.

Joining the bullpen in his place is Valdes, 32, who posted a 2.08 ERA in six spring games with the Mets. After defecting from his native Cuba in 2004 and making a brief stint in the Mets' Minor League system in 2007, Valdes has spent the past two years pitching in the Dominican League, Venezuelan League and Mexican League. He has never before advanced beyond Triple-A.

"I feel real good about it, just to have the opportunity to be here," Valdes said through interpreter Alex Cora. "It's great. But at the same time, I want to take advantage of the opportunity."

To make room on the 40-man roster for Valdes, the Mets designated right-hander Clint Everts for assignment.

Castillo should be able to cope with calf

NEW YORK -- The right calf injury that has sidelined Luis Castillo this week should not develop into anything worse.

Castillo, who has not started since Thursday but who was originally expected back this weekend, is now scheduled to return to the starting lineup on Tuesday in Colorado. He has been battling what manager Jerry Manuel called a "cranky" right calf.

"He should be ready to go Tuesday," Manuel said.

Castillo, who eclipsed 140 games played last year for the first time in three seasons, singled in a pinch-hit appearance on Saturday afternoon. Alex Cora started in his place Sunday for the third consecutive game.

Manuel has confidence Maine will find stuff

NEW YORK -- Mets manager Jerry Manuel is optimistic that John Maine, so valuable to the rotation in 2007 and 2008, will rediscover the velocity that once made him such a success.

"We'll continue to hope for that," Manuel said. "He's healthy. I don't see why -- being free from setbacks and those types of things -- we won't see that at some point."

Maine, who will start the series opener Tuesday in Denver, sat in the high 80s with his fastball in his season debut on Wednesday. That's down from the mid-90s heat he used consistently in 2007 and 2008.

Back with Mets, Reyes gets comfortable

NEW YORK -- For Jose Reyes, Game 2 was the easy part.

After somewhat of a rocky debut Saturday in his first game back from a thyroid issue, the Mets shortstop appeared -- and felt -- more comfortable on Sunday afternoon against the Nationals.

Despite two swinging strikeouts in his final two at-bats, Reyes walked and doubled in the third and fifth innings, respectively, making him one of only two Mets to reach base twice against Nats starter Livan Hernandez.

Reyes also racked up one putout and one assist in the field without issue.

"It was easy today," Reyes said. "I felt more relaxed on the field. Every day, its going to get better".