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09/22/08 7:49 PM ET

Manuel will not play with rotation

Santana will not get more starts than needed down the stretch

NEW YORK -- The Mets brought in Johan Santana to pitch in important games, and there is no question that a playoff-clinching win in the season's last week would be of an appropriate scale.

But with Santana scheduled to start on Tuesday, manager Jerry Manuel dismissed the possibility of giving his ace any more starts than necessary down the stretch. If anything, Santana, or even Mike Pelfrey, could come out of the bullpen, but that would be a "last resort" option, Manuel said on Monday.

Manuel also would not consider such a scenario for Wednesday starter Oliver Perez, saying that the rotation will stay in its current order, and nobody would pitch on three days' rest.

"I think our guys have pushed enough, and we have to accomplish this with the people that we have and the rotation we have in place," Manuel said. "I would not feel comfortable in asking those guys to do that at this point."

That does not mean, though, that anything is guaranteed for Jonathon Niese after Monday's start against the Cubs. Manuel said that the Mets could make the necessary "adjustments" for a scenario in which they do not feel comfortable starting Niese if he put up a poor performance.

"If he really, really struggled or something like that, we could make the adjustments," Manuel said. "There are other guys, but we don't really have that much flexibility."

Jon Blau is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.