LOS ANGELES -- Mets manager Jerry Manuel is hoping an early batting practice session on Friday will restore the confidence of Jason Bay, who is in a 4-for-36 slump and has eight strikeouts in his last three games entering Thursday.
In a shakeup, Bay was out of the lineup along with Rod Barajas and Carlos Beltran on Thursday for the start of a four-game set in Los Angeles. The Mets have scored four runs or fewer in 12 straight games.
"[Bay is] wavering, confidence-wise -- we've got to do everything we can to get him to feel like, at least feel like, 'Hey, I can do it rather,' than 'I hope to do it,'" Manuel said. "Here's a guy with a different type of set up, a different type of swing that is almost more feel than mechanics. I think you can look at a swing and you can dissect it as far as the fundamentals and so forth. I just think that it's a feel for him and that's what we're going to try to find. Do this until we get it right."
Mets general manager Omar Minaya said the Mets knew that Bay could be a streaky player when they signed him this offseason.
"When he's hot, he's going to be hot; when he's cold, he's going to be cold," Minaya said. "I still feel Jason's going to be a contributor for us and he will continue to be."
Bay is batting .257 with six home runs, 44 RBIs and 10 steals.
"We really feel like we have a good offensive club, we haven't shown it," Manuel said.
Mets designate Nieve for assignment
LOS ANGELES -- The Mets designated reliever Fernando Nieve for assignment after Thursday's 2-0 loss the Dodgers in Chavez Ravine.
The 28-year-old right-hander was 2-4 with a 6.00 ERA in 42 innings and 40 appearances. He struck out 38 and walked 22. The move comes one day after Nieve gave up the winning run to the D-backs in a 14-inning, 4-3 loss.
He is immediately removed from the 40-man roster and the Mets have 10 days to trade or release Nieve, who can be assigned to the Minors if he clears waivers. He was signed to a one-year, $414,000 deal.
Minaya reaffirms support for Manuel
LOS ANGELES -- Continuing to travel with the team, Mets general manager Omar Minaya sat in the visiting dugout at Dodger Stadium on Thursday and reaffirmed his support of manager Jerry Manuel.
"Jerry Manuel's our manager," Minaya said. "Look, any time you're going to have a couple losing things, those things are going to pop up, but there's no discussion at all. Jerry Manuel is our manager, going to be our manager -- very happy with the job he's done."
Manuel's team has lost six of its last seven entering a four-game set with the Dodgers on Thursday, and he said he knows being judged week-to-week comes with the territory. But he said his job hasn't come up in his own discussions with the Mets front office.
"I haven't had a conversation this or that -- it's always a conversation about how do we get better," Manuel. "It's never about me. That's part of being where I'm at, I understand that."
Minaya was non-committal when asked if Manuel would finish the season as Mets manager.
"Jerry's our manager," Minaya said. "When we signed Jerry -- for me to discuss Jerry's job status after a losing streak, it's just not right. Teams are going to have losing streaks. It's not right to discuss a manager's status. I tell you he's our manager and I see him being our manager."
Manuel had just been asked whether he had received a call from Jeff Wilpon when Minaya made his way into the visiting dugout.
"A call as to what, about me? There you go, that's my boss right there," Manuel said. "Holler at him, holler at him. 'What's going on, man? Hey, did you say two-year extension or what?'"
Minaya came up behind Manuel and told him, "Welcome to New York, brother."
Manuel joked this was the time the team would rattle off 10 straight wins -- right when he's back in hot water. He was reportedly on the hot seat at the start of the season, but the Mets were in first place going into May and were just two games off the National League East lead at the start of July.
All eyes on Takahashi's performance
LOS ANGELES -- Hisanori Takahashi "needs to get late" Thursday night against the Dodgers to stay in the Mets' rotation, manager Jerry Manuel said before the start of the four-game set at Dodger Stadium.
"We need a guy, especially tonight, to get us late in the game," Manuel said. "If we can do that with a chance to win, then obviously he'll have to revisit whether or not he's a starter for us or not."
Takahashi allowed six runs and exited after just 2 2/3 innings in his last outing Saturday in San Francisco.
In Manuel's words, the Mets had a number of players who weren't quite right in Arizona, but the bullpen was an exception for almost all of Wednesday night's 4-3 loss in 14 innings. The relievers combined for 8 1/3 innings and just one run allowed.
It's on Takahashi to give the bullpen a breather, and if he's unable to, it could mean Ryota Igarashi would be recalled from Triple-A Buffalo sooner rather than later.
"If we happen to get not through five innings, we could be in some trouble," Manuel said.
Impact a factor as Minaya considers market
LOS ANGELES -- General manager Omar Minaya said the Thursday the team isn't scouring the trade market for starting pitching any more than it is relief pitching, and offered no comment on whether Jeff Francoeur, who's lost significant playing time with the return of Carlos Beltran, would be traded.
"It's definitely one of those things that if they decide to go that way, I don't know how helpful I would be anyway, playing once a week, and I think they understand that situation," Francoeur said. "I think I'm an everyday player, whether it's here or somewhere else. We've had discussions about it, but it's a touchy subject. I love it here, I fell in love with the team and playing in New York, but at the same time you have to do what's best for your career, too."
Minaya indicated teams are hesitant to trade a player who could bring in a pair of top Draft picks if they were to hold on to the player and offer arbitration. Despite the Mets' recent skid, Minaya said that in itself wouldn't deter him from trading prospects for players of impact.
"If I'm not mistaken, we're 4 1/2 half out in that range, and we have a lot of baseball left to play," Minaya said, although the Mets are actually 6 1/2 games behind the first-place Braves. "That being said, when you're trading a prospect you have to look at the prospect you're trading and who we're getting back, and, 'Is that guy going to really make a big impact?' I can tell you that you have to look at who's out there, who's going to make a big impact and value that when you trade a prospect."
Minaya said just making a move for the sake of could "sometimes" jump start a team, but he stressed it's rare that a single trade drastically changes a club's direction.
"There's not too many guys out there over the years that can do that," he said.
Mets sign Cordero to Minors deal
LOS ANGELES -- The Mets announced Thursday that they had signed former Nationals closer Chad Cordero to a Minor League deal. The 28-year-old right-hander was assigned to Triple-A Buffalo.
Cordero was 0-1 with a 6.52 ERA in nine games for the Mariners this year before opting out of his contract. He missed all of 2009 because of a torn labrum.
Mets general manager Omar Minaya was the GM of the Expos in 2003, when he drafted Cordero in the first round.
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.