HOUSTON -- With Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez on the mound against the Mets, manager Jerry Manuel opted to sit first baseman Ike Davis in favor of Mike Hessman on Monday.

Manuel said he has been careful to play Davis, especially when he's struggling.

"You have to be careful when you make the choice for him, Manuel said. "You don't want to keep him down a path of not having success."

Manuel said former Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado used to enjoy facing lefties because it would help him get out of a slump. But with young players it's different.

"If they're on a downward spiral, you want to stop that as much as you can," Manuel said. "If he's going good, you want him to face a lefty. He might get a couple of hits or he might take an 0-for, but it's not detrimental to his success for long term."

Mets could get Barajas back on Tuesday

HOUSTON -- Mets manager Jerry Manuel said catcher Rod Barajas could return to the club Tuesday from his stint on the 15-day disabled list. Barajas has been on the DL since July 25 with a mild left oblique strain.

Barajas began a rehab assignment Thursday with the Rookie Gulf Coast League Mets and has hit .182 with a homer and three RBIs in three games. Manuel isn't worried that Barajas has not caught a full game yet.

"He's veteran enough to where he can crawl out of bed and catch," Manuel said.

Barajas hit .228 with 12 home runs before he suffered the injury. Josh Thole has started in his place.

Worth noting

Mets starters are 4-3 with a 1.44 ERA over their last nine games. ... The Mets are 25-39 in games decided by two or fewer runs this season. ... The last four Mets wins have been shutouts.