CHICAGO -- Injured first baseman Ike Davis is not progressing nearly as quickly as the Mets had hoped, keeping the date of his return in doubt.

"He thought he'd be back tomorrow, and he's not even on the field yet," Mets manager Terry Collins said after Thursday's 9-3 loss to the Cubs.

Davis, who originally hit the disabled list on May 11 with a sprained left ankle, expressed optimism earlier this month that he would be able to return when first eligible this week. But Davis has not progressed at all in his rehab, confined to pool workouts on Wednesday and Thursday. The Mets still have no clear timetable for his return.

The news was better on third baseman David Wright, who has begun participating in core exercises, the first steps in his rehabilitation from a stress fracture in his lower back. Still, the Mets also have no timetable for Wright's return.

Pagan's return likely puts Martinez in Triple-A

CHICAGO -- The byproduct of Angel Pagan's return from the disabled list will be a demotion for Fernando Martinez.

Rather than keep Martinez as a left-handed bat off the bench, Mets manager Terry Collins hinted Thursday that the team plans to option the outfielder back to Triple-A Buffalo.

The team expects to activate Pagan, on the disabled list since April 22 with a strained left oblique, prior to Friday's game against the Phillies.

To preserve a roster spot for Martinez, who entered Thursday's play hitting .263 in 19 at-bats, the Mets would have had to cut one outfielder from a group including Willie Harris, Scott Hairston and Jason Pridie. But Collins feels it is more important for Martinez, 22, to continue receiving regular playing time.

"I think this guy is one of our top prospects in our organization," Collins said. "And to have him sitting on the end of the bench, I don't think benefits him or us."

Pagan, who was scheduled to play one final rehab game Thursday for Buffalo, will immediately slide back into the starting center-field position -- though he may not immediately bat second in the lineup. Splitting time between the second, fifth and sixth spots in the order prior to his injury, Pagan was hitting .159 with one home run.

"I want to make sure he looks good, he looks like he's swinging good, that there's no hesitancy in his swing at all," Collins said.

Collins likes Thole's comfort level with Dickey

CHICAGO -- For a guy not supposed to be seeing much action, Josh Thole is certainly playing a lot.

Thole started his second consecutive game behind the plate on Thursday, days after manager Terry Collins laid out a plan to scale back his playing time in favor of backup Ronny Paulino.

Mostly, Collins said, he wanted to pair Thole with starting pitcher R.A. Dickey, much as he did with Thole and Dillon Gee in Wednesday's victory.

"R.A. Dickey last year had an outstanding season," Collins said. "Who caught him?"

For the most part, Thole did, catching 16 of Dickey's 26 starts.

"Maybe it doesn't mean anything," Collins said. "To me, it says something. R.A.'s comfortable. Josh is comfortable. I'm not sure Ronny's that comfortable catching him."