NEW YORK -- Francisco Rodriguez has a 1.00 ERA in save situations this season and a 6.30 ERA in all other outings. This, his manager believes, is no coincidence.

"In my past history with closers, there is a difference, no doubt about it," Terry Collins said. "A lot of times, that edge that they pitch with on a nightly basis is not there in a tie game."

Collins pegged his closer's recent struggles -- a 17.18 ERA on the team's current 10-game homestand -- to the emergency dental surgery that Rodriguez underwent earlier this week, a process from which he is still healing. But Collins nonetheless plans on deploying his closer as usual if the Mets find themselves stuck in a tie game in the ninth at Citi Field.

"He still is our best option in those games," Collins said.

And Rodriguez will, of course, continue to close out games. Despite his struggles in non-save situations, Rodriguez has converted 16 consecutive save opportunities dating back to April 9.

Collins shifts Bay to sixth spot in lineup

NEW YORK -- In an effort to reduce pressure on his slumping left fielder, Mets manager Terry Collins moved Jason Bay to the sixth spot in the lineup for New York's game against Atlanta on Saturday.

Bay has batted primarily in the cleanup spot this year, but is batting .223 with two home runs.

"He's worked so, so hard, and he's put in a spot where he's got to produce, he's got to come through," Collins said. "So I thought it was time to let him relax a little bit so he's not so conscious of trying to take into the game what he's working on on the side to get his swing back. I just said, 'Look, I'm going to give you a chance to get hot, then we'll make the switch back.'"

The move comes several weeks after Collins had floated the idea of moving Bay to the two-hole, and a day after Collins told Bay he was thinking of moving his spot in the lineup.

Bay, who is making $16 million this year, said he realizes he has not lived up to expectations since signing with the Mets as a free agent and that he understands Collins' motives for the lineup change.

"I'm in no position, with the way things have gone, to argue," Bay said. "I mean, I agreed. It's been a constant struggle and he's just trying to take a little pressure off.

"It was basically, 'OK, I'm just trying to take some pressure off you so you can relax a bit.' I said, 'I completely understand.' And that was that."

In 549 career plate appearances in the No. 6 slot prior to Saturday, Bay hit .254 with a .364 on-base percentage and 26 home runs. He has batted sixth twice this season, going 0-for-7 with a walk.

Collins put Daniel Murphy in the cleanup spot on Saturday night.

While Bay understands the move, he said he still feels pressure to produce, regardless of where he is hitting in the batting order.

"Whether you're hitting first, fourth, eighth, whatever it is, you still have a certain expectation of yourself and what you're going to do," Bay said. "Now because I'm hitting sixth, all of the sudden that doesn't mean that my approach changes and I'm trying to do anything different. I'm still in there trying to do the exact same things I was over the last month in the four-hole."

Collins' plan for infield remains unchanged

NEW YORK -- Because the Mets originally believed that David Wright would only be sidelined for three or four weeks, they filled their vacancy at third base on a temporary basis. Mainly, the Mets have started Justin Turner at third, sometimes using Willie Harris or Daniel Murphy instead.

Wright's continued absence isn't likely to change that. Despite Friday's news that Wright will remain inactive another three weeks with a stress fracture in his lower back, manager Terry Collins indicated that he will not make any wholesale defensive changes to his infield, preferring to keep Murphy at first base, Ruben Tejada at second and Turner at third.

Against lefties, Nick Evans should continue to crack the starting lineup at one of the corner positions. But otherwise, Collins will try not to tinker.

"We've run through several options, several thought processes," Collins said. "If you start to juggle too much, guys aren't comfortable."

The hope, for the Mets, is that their makeshift infield will only be in place until early July, at which point Wright and starting first baseman Ike Davis will return from the disabled list. But they cannot be certain of that timeframe.

After receiving Wright's diagnosis on Friday afternoon, Collins had a long conversation with his third baseman, encouraging Wright and giving both men the opportunity to vent.

"I certainly felt his frustrations," Collins said.