DENVER -- Prior to Tuesday's game against the Rockies, Mets manager Jerry Manuel's office was littered with various charts, each of them detailing different aspects of the Colorado pitching staff. The Mets, he said, are nothing if not prepared.

But "unprepared" was the word Manuel used to describe his team following Sunday's loss to former teammate Livan Hernandez. And though he scaled back his wording, he continued to describe them in that ilk.

"I was discouraged," Manuel said. "I thought we as a team, against a former teammate, should have been better. Not taking anything away from Livan, but I do think Livan is kind of toward the evening of his career. He's not the Livan that won me a championship ring in '97."

Despite featuring a low-80s fastball and a wide variety of breaking balls, Hernandez held the Mets to just five hits over seven shutout innings on Sunday. Not once did they advance a runner to scoring position against Hernandez with less than two outs.

Clarifying his comments two days later, Manuel said that he was mostly upset about his hitters' inability to apply their extensive preparation to the game.

"It's not instinctive," Manuel said. "We have to get back to players making the adjustments, making the decisions and talking about the strategies."

After the game, Manuel took plenty of heat in the local media for the Mets' inability, with their ace on the mound, to win a rubber game against the lowly Nationals. But Manuel brushed off any thought that his team was simply "going through the motions."

"Ain't nobody going through no motions in New York City," Manuel said. "It's just a matter of a clear understanding of what the opposition is giving you and taking advantage of it. That's as simple as I can say it."

Maximizing speed may move Reyes back

DENVER -- With Jose Reyes and Luis Castillo healthy, and Angel Pagan starting in center field, the Mets entered Tuesday's game with their three speediest regulars together in the lineup for the first time this season.

It was that combination that, back in Spring Training, first prompted manager Jerry Manuel to consider batting Reyes third in the lineup. But Manuel is not quite ready to shift that experiment to the regular season.

"I'm not ready for that one yet," he said. "I've got to give Jose a chance to get comfortable."

Manuel did say, however, that if Reyes and Pagan both begin producing, he won't hesitate to drop Reyes down to third in the order. Pagan could lead off, followed by Castillo and Reyes, then the club's more traditional power hitters.

Manuel insists he is willing to try it. Just not yet.

"I would hope that if we begin to see [Reyes] get back into the groove that he's been in for years, get back into that form and get really comfortable with his swing and stuff, we could do that," Manuel said. "I don't want to think that we'd be forced. I just want to think that it would be a good option for us."

Santana to remain on set schedule

DENVER -- Despite his status as the Mets' clear ace, Johan Santana will continue to be treated like everyone else.

The Mets, manager Jerry Manuel said, will not rearrange the rotation to keep Santana on a five-day schedule, thereby maximizing his number of starts. Instead, if there is an off-day in the schedule -- as there was on Monday -- Santana will simply receive an extra day of rest.

Just like every other Met.

"I think the extra day early is always good," Manuel said. "Historically, [Santana's] numbers have been better with an extra day. With the other guys needing to almost stay regular, this time of the season you've got to give them every opportunity."

Matchups continue to dictate Feliciano

DENVER -- Because the Mets never held a late lead on Sunday, they were unable to test their new eighth-inning setup man: Pedro Feliciano. That is, if he can even be considered the setup man at all.

Manager Jerry Manuel said Tuesday that although he would like to have Feliciano set up games, he will continue to use him primarily based on matchups. If a team's most fearsome left-handed slugger comes up in the seventh inning, for example, Manuel won't hesitate to use Feliciano then.

"I will save Feliciano for late," Manuel said. "If that is the eighth, whatever, he is the late lefty. I'll put it that way."

This date in Mets history -- April 13

Pete Falcone, the Oliver Perez of his day, pitched the first six innings of the Mets' 5-0 shutout victory against the Cubs in 1980. Twelve days later, he allowed five runs in five innings against the Astros, followed by two runs in seven innings against the Phillies and six runs in two innings against the Reds. ... In 1985, Darryl Strawberry crushed a final-pitch home run against 25-year-old John Franco in the Mets' 2-1 victory against the Reds at Shea. ... A ninth-inning double by Mike Piazza drove in Jay Payton with the decisive run in the Mets' 2-1 victory in Philadelphia in 2000. The victory was the first in a 13-game sequence that produced 12 victories.