With two more losses this weekend, the Mets opened the second half by dropping three of four games to the Braves. As usual, that’s not really the bad news, because they also lost two more players to injury. Gary Sheffield left Friday night’s game with what was originally called a cramp in his hamstring, but could be something more serious. There’s no firm target date for his return. And yesterday, Fernando Nieve was taken off the field in Atlanta on a golf cart, after straining his quadriceps running to first. He’s expected to land on the disabled list. Yes, there are reasons for Mets fans to have hope, as Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran take steps toward returning. But perhaps a disclaimer should be in order: Any and all optimism needs to be based on the assumption that as they return to the lineup, everyone else stays healthy, too.
It's come to this for manager Jerry Manuel: He’s toying with the idea of using pitcher Livan Hernandez not just as a pinch hitter, but as a corner infielder. (Hernandez apparently loves the idea, and even took grounders at third during their last homestand.) Here’s the most disconcerting thing about this: Assuming he’d be equally inept at either of these corner positions, we guess we see the logic in using him at first, as Daniel Murphy could be moved to the outfield. But last time we checked, the Mets already had a third-baseman. In fact, it’s one of the few positions they haven’t had to worry about all year. Which we suppose can only mean one thing: Manuel is preparing for the inevitable David Wright injury — the one that would be the final nail in the Mets’ coffin. So much for optimism.