07/24/10 3:11 AM ET
Hitting coach HoJo focusing on turnaround
By Evan Drellich / MLB.com
On Thursday night, they were shut out for the third time in a single road trip for the first time since 1981. They haven't scored more than four runs in their last 13 games. They're 5-for-36 with runners in scoring position since the All-Star break, and hitting .198 with the bases loaded on the season, the worst mark in the Majors.
On Thursday, general manager Omar Minaya said that manager Jerry Manuel's job was safe. On Friday, hitting coach Howard Johnson said he isn't worried about his own position, just righting the ship.
"No, I don't worry," Johnson said. "First of all, I can't control it. Second of all, it's just not me. I don't operate that way. My experience is that you just take a good approach every day, every day is different even when your team is scoring a lot of runs. It's just some bad luck right now for us."
Mets' Manuel ejected for arguing in second
LOS ANGELES -- Mets manager Jerry Manuel was ejected at the end of the top of the second inning Friday night at Dodger Stadium in a 6-1 Mets win.
With two outs and two in scoring position in the second, Luis Castillo hit a grounder in the hole that shortstop Rafael Furcal backhanded before throwing in time for the out, according to umpire Doug Eddings.
Mets first-base coach Razor Shines immediately argued. Manuel wasn't far behind and was tossed quickly. Replays showed that Castillo beat the throw.
"I thought he was ready to make an out call regardless of what he saw, that's the only thing about it," said Manuel, who saw the replay. "He said that I was yelling. I might have been yelling."
Manuel said it was possible his cap and Eddings' cap made contact, but said he wasn't expecting to hear from MLB because of that.
"They might have touched," Manuel said. "Incidental. I think they touched, I'm not sure."
Manuel has been ejected three times this season, the last coming at home against Cincinnati on July 5. David Wright and Jose Reyes are the only Mets players to have been ejected this season (once each).
Bay takes extra BP before returning to lineup
LOS ANGELES -- Mets left fielder Jason Bay took three rounds of early batting practice and his regular cage work on Friday, when he returned to the lineup for the second of a four-game set with the Dodgers.
Manager Jerry Manuel batted Bay seventh for just the ninth time in his career. Though Bay is struggling to control his head movement and find his swing at the plate, Manuel said there was no thought of giving the Mets' most recent free-agent prize a second straight day off.
"It looks like he's made some adjustments," Manuel said. "It would help to get some instant results, but I kind of like where he is fundamentally and mechanically right now. The results might not come tonight, but hopefully they will. I thought he swung the bat real well, real well."
Without being specific, hitting coach Howard Johnson said there was a particular adjustment Bay tried to implement Friday that was mechanical in nature but more related to timing. Manuel said Bay's pitch recognition "is probably the No. 1 thing" holding him back right now, which makes sense considering Bay has struck out eight times over his last three games. Bay hasn't had his eyes checked as part of deciphering his swoon, but Manuel felt that wasn't issue.
"We seem to think it's more of body movement, head movement toward the ball," Manuel said. "His head's doing a lot of things before you can recognize what the pitch is."
Manuel did acknowledge the chance that Bay could fall into a similar problem that David Wright did last year, when there was just too much tinkering going on.
"That's a possibility," he said. "Again, what you hope for after you have a session is you have to find some positives in what you see tonight."
Takahashi earns another start from Mets
LOS ANGELES -- Hisanori Takahashi's seven-inning, three-hit, two-run performance against the Dodgers on Thursday night bought him another start, but no greater commitment than that from Mets manager Jerry Manuel.
Takahashi's game was brilliant aside from two pitches that Matt Kemp handled for an RBI double and a home run in the Dodgers' 2-0 win. But Los Angeles, just like the Mets, has been sputtering at the plate and in the standings, leaving Manuel less than convinced that Takahashi's start was the turn of a corner.
"I feel good about what he did last night," Manuel said. "I just know this is the part of the season that you have to put everything into play ... they scored two runs last night but I don't think their offense is quite clicking, you know what I'm saying?"
Takahashi is 7-5 with a 4.52 ERA in 27 appearances, 11 of them starts.
Castillo back in No. 2 spot for Mets
LOS ANGELES -- Mets second baseman Luis Castillo returned to his customary No. 2 spot in the lineup Friday in front of Angel Pagan, who made just his second start of the year in the three-hole.
"I know we need to get some guys on base, and I think when Luis in that spot he does give us a guy that sees a lot of pitches, and a guy that has at the ability to get on base," manager Jerry Manuel said. "It gets him back involved in the game a little bit. His last couple game she's been out there but you haven't really noticed him."
Pagan went 1-for-4 with a walk in his only other start as the No. 3 hitter, but he's hitting .391 with runners in scoring position. Manuel made it seem that Pagan batting third could become a regular sight.
"I hope so. He has been probably one of the better clutch hitters that we've had this year," Manuel said. "So I envision if he can maintain that level of play that he'll be there for a while."
Mets recall Acosta to replace Nieve
LOS ANGELES -- Manny Acosta was called up by the Mets on Friday to replace Fernando Nieve, who was designated for assignment after Thursday night's 2-0 loss to the Dodgers.
Acosta, a 29-year-old right-hander, went 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 12 appearances in April and May, his only other stint with the club this season. He is available Friday night for the second of a four-game series at Dodger Stadium.
Used heavily at the start of the season, Nieve had a 3.46 ERA in April but saw his ERA shoot up to 9.75 in May. A day before being designated, he allowed a walk-off hit to the D-backs in a 4-3, 14-inning loss in Arizona.
Acosta was 2-3 with five saves and a 3.47 ERA in 28 games at Triple-A Buffalo. He didn't allow a run in his last 6 2/3 innings in the Majors, going back to May 11.
The Mets' bullpen ranks 10th in the Majors with a 3.59 ERA.
Manuel would use catcher to rest Davis
LOS ANGELES -- Mets manager Jerry Manuel doesn't think fatigue is Ike Davis' problem at the moment, but if he were to rest the first baseman, Rod Barajas would be the likely fill-in.
"Probably one of the catchers, and that'd probably be Barajas," Manuel said. "I think he's played a few games in the big leagues at first base."
Barajas has played 14 career games at first base, last playing the position with the Blue Jays in 2008, when he made four appearances. Henry Blanco has played first base 10 times in his career, also last appearing there in 2008, for one game with the Cubs.
Manuel said the catchers have taken ground balls at first, but "not with the intent" of filling in for Davis some time soon. Davis has gone 1-for-17 in the last four games, and the Mets face tough southpaw Clatyon Kershaw on Saturday. Manuel said he wouldn't rest Davis against Kershaw.
"I don't think Ike is tired, I think Ike is a guy that is an everyday player and he has had some success against some very good lefties in this league," Manuel said. "I don't look to find a way to get him out of there. I'd like to see him at least in this stage of his career face those guys."
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.