NEW YORK -- Angel Pagan prefers hitting second, and the Mets prefer it when Pagan is hitting there. But Monday, for the sixth time in 10 games, Pagan found his name scrawled lower down in the lineup. In his place, Daniel Murphy manned the two hole.
The justification was two-fold: Mets manager Terry Collins wanted to use Pagan's power potential to give his middle-of-the-order sluggers more protection, and he wanted to break up a run of lefties lower down in the lineup.
The result was Murphy's first start in the two hole, where he spent significant time in 2008 and 2009 -- and where he plans to give leadoff hitter Jose Reyes ample opportunity to run.
"It's not a conscious effort," Murphy said. "But if you see Jose get a good jump out of the corner of your eye, you give him a chance to steal that bag. He's got a history of being able to get into scoring position."
Isringhausen comes full circle with Mets
NEW YORK -- This wasn't precisely what Jason Isringhausen remembered, with Citi Field rising to greet him rather than old Shea Stadium. But Isringhausen nonetheless had been here before.
"Same airport," Isringhausen said, laughing. "Airport was great."
He had business at LaGuardia on Monday because the Mets had called upon Isringhausen -- who made his Major League debut with the team way back in 1995 -- to make his return trip to Flushing. After signing a Minor League deal with the Mets in February and not breaking camp with the team, Isringhausen spent the last two weeks working his arm into shape in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
After several long games and poor starting pitching performances conspired to tax the big league bullpen, the Mets called Isringhausen on Sunday evening, officially completing the circle of his career.
"I'm glad to be with the Mets again," Isringhausen said. "They gave me a shot to throw again, to pitch again. I'll give them everything I've got."
Not everything, of course, will be quite the same. All his old teammates are gone, as is Shea. And his old uniform, No. 44, now belongs to Jason Bay, who offered it to Isringhausen during dinner Sunday evening in Port St. Lucie. Seeking to avoid the hassle, Isringhausen declined.
Numbers don't define him; outs do. To that end, manager Terry Collins said he hoped to use Isringhausen as soon as possible, perhaps even in a late-inning role.
More than that, Collins hopes the bullpen's younger pitchers will soak in some of the wisdom Isringhausen has gained over 14 big league seasons, 621 games and 293 saves.
"For Pedro Beato or Bobby Parnell not to sit down next to Jason Isringhausen and pick his brain ... and talk to him about preparation and how he goes about things, they're wasting their time," Collins said. "That's one of the reasons why he's here, besides the fact that he's supposed to help us. You just don't find guys with his background on a young pitching staff."
Certainly, Isringhausen's history in the game is long. He does not remember much from his last game as a Met back in 1999, other than then-general manager Steve Phillips pulling him aside to tell him he had been traded to the A's.
"It was one of those things where you got traded from your first team, it was hard," Isringhausen said. "But I wouldn't change the path of my career for anything. And now I'm back."
Igarashi ready to make 'full use of opportunity'
NEW YORK -- The second half of the Mets' bullpen infusion came Monday in the person of Ryota Igarashi, now in his fourth Major League stint over the past 13 months. In need of arms due to bullpen fatigue, the Mets called on Igarashi, who made two shutout appearances for Triple-A Buffalo over the past week.
"I was able to throw the pitches that I wanted to throw," was how Igarashi, through an interpreter, summed his stay in Buffalo. "Chances are tough to get these days, so I want to make full use of this opportunity and do my best."
Signed to a guaranteed two-year, $3 million contract last season, Igarashi thrived in April before suffering a hamstring injury. He was never the same for the rest of the year, finishing with a 7.12 ERA.
"I learned about American batters, and the balance of adjusting mentally and physically to the game here," Igarashi said.
After the season, the Mets removed Igarashi from the 40-man roster, significantly reducing his chances of making the Opening Day roster.
"I felt my condition was good in camp," Igarashi said. "So if I improved step by step, I thought another chance would come."
Mets still unsure if Bay will return this weekend
NEW YORK -- The Mets remain hopeful that Jason Bay will be back for this weekend's series in Atlanta. But the simple truth is that they just can't be sure.
"In a perfect world, I'd love to see him in Atlanta," manager Terry Collins said. "I can't say that's going to happen, but I can dream like anyone else."
Bay, who is recovering from a strained left intercostal muscle, continues to take batting practice in Port St. Lucie, Fla. But his status remains a day-to-day concern, and the Mets would like to see him play in rehab games before he is activated.
They do have an ulterior motive for wanting him back: proceeding this week with an extra bullpen arm and a four-man bench, the Mets would like to delay beefing their bench back up to five until Bay returns. In his absence, they will need to be prudent in spending their pinch-hitters and defensive replacements.
"You're going to have to let some of the guys hit in certain situations where perhaps they haven't," Collins said. "We're going to have to be a lot more careful how we use those guys."