ATLANTA -- Hours after Jerry Manuel and the Mets dropped their fifth consecutive game in Miami, COO Jeff Wilpon and general manager Omar Minaya made an unscheduled trip to meet the team at Turner Field. Manuel, Wilpon, Minaya and assistant general manager John Ricco met behind closed doors for roughly 90 minutes Monday in the visiting manager's office.

The meeting, according to Manuel and Wilpon, was strictly a baseball discussion.

"I didn't come here to fire anybody," Wilpon said.

Nonetheless, the similarities were striking to the situation in Anaheim two years earlier, when Minaya took an unscheduled flight to meet the team and dismissed then-manager Willie Randolph shortly thereafter. Though Manuel does not appear to be in such imminent danger, the presence of Wilpon and Minaya indicates that he has stepped onto shaky ground.

"I wouldn't be here if I felt good about everything going on," Wilpon said.

Minaya declined to comment.

Wilpon and Minaya both plan on staying for Monday and Tuesday's games against the Braves, heading back to New York when the team flies north to Washington.

Through 38 games, the Mets are 18-20, losers of five straight after a seven-game winning streak in late April. For Manuel to survive the length of a contract that expires after this season, he will need to generate a more consistent winning atmosphere.

"I believe we'll turn it around," Manuel said. "I believe we'll play well."

"Jerry and Omar both know what's expected, and they're both working at it," Wilpon said. "We're 38 games into the season, right? If I was going to make a change this quick, I should have made it last year and we didn't do that. We're working towards getting this thing right."

Niese has mild strain; Takahashi to start

ATLANTA -- Jon Niese was diagnosed with a "mild" strain of his right hamstring and will miss his scheduled start Friday against the Yankees. Hisanori Takahashi will start in Niese's place.

Niese, who aggravated the injury on a bunt play in Sunday's game, flew to New York on Monday for an examination at the Hospital for Special Surgery. There he will remain for a reevaluation later this week.

As for the other vacancy in manager Jerry Manuel's rotation, the Mets will make a roster move to recall Wednesday's starter from Triple-A Buffalo. Though they have not yet made an official announcement, all signs point to knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who already had a nameplate installed in the visiting clubhouse at Turner Field.

The Mets are waiting to see if Niese's injury will require a stay on the disabled list. If so, they will be able to activate Dickey without cutting anyone from their roster.

Dickey, 35, was 4-2 with a 2.23 ERA at Buffalo, pitching a complete game one-hitter on April 29. He has not started a big league game since last August.

Takahashi, 35, will be making his first career start in the United States after spending most of his career as a starter in Japan. In 15 games out of the bullpen for the Mets, Takahashi was 3-1 with a 3.12 ERA.

Igarashi makes progress with Class A outing

ATLANTA -- Right-handed reliever Ryota Igarashi fired two scoreless innings Monday in a rehab outing with Class A St. Lucie. Igarashi, who is recovering from a left hamstring strain, allowed one hit and no walks, striking out one.

Igarashi is now set to advance to Triple-A Buffalo, where he will pitch in back-to-back games this Thursday and Friday. If all goes well, he could rejoin the Mets shortly thereafter.

Carter gets start in favor of Francoeur

ATLANTA -- Jeff Francoeur admitted last weekend that he needed a mental health day. But two?

That was the revelation that greeted Francoeur on Monday at Turner Field, where Chris Carter started his second consecutive game in Francoeur's place.

"I kind of like the matchup," manager Jerry Manuel said before the game. "And I like to see it just to see what Carter can do."

Francoeur, though, was surprised by the decision. After making only a cameo in Sunday's game in Miami, Francoeur arrived at Turner Field expecting to be in the lineup.

"I feel fine," Francoeur said. "It's just a matter of getting ready to play when I'm needed."