NEW YORK (AP) - Center fielder Angel Pagan returned to the New York Mets’ lineup Friday night after missing more than a month with an injury to his rib cage.
“I never thought it was going to take that long. So it was very frustrating,” he said. “I worked really hard to get back as soon as possible.”
Pagan was activated from the disabled list and was in the starting lineup as the Mets opened a 10-game homestand against Philadelphia. Pagan batted sixth _ manager Terry Collins said he wanted to let the speedy switch-hitter get comfortable before putting him in the No. 2 spot again.
Pagan went 2 for 4 with a pair of singles in a 6-4 loss to the Phillies. He also stole a base, scored a run and committed a costly error in the fifth inning.
“I was so excited being out there that the game seemed really quick, like it was going 100 mph. But I was just happy to be out there with my teammates,” Pagan said. “It was five weeks, but it felt like a year.”
Two other Mets regulars are still on the disabled list: first baseman Ike Davis (ankle) and third baseman David Wright (back). There is no timetable yet for their return, but general manager Sandy Alderson said it’s possible Wright could be back by the end of the homestand.
The Mets called up right-hander Dale Thayer from Triple-A Buffalo to help a taxed bullpen. New York optioned outfielder Fernando Martinez to Buffalo and designated left-hander Pat Misch for assignment.
R.A. Dickey, who left Thursday’s game against the Chicago Cubs with a right foot injury, hopes to make his next start. He said he might push his bullpen session back to Sunday, and that could determine whether he can take his next turn in the rotation Tuesday night against Pittsburgh.
“I don’t want to handicap the team,” Dickey said. “I’m optimistic and feel like if it’s just a matter of managing the symptoms, then I’ll be out there. … We’ll probably do something to help alleviate some of the stress and the pain.”
The Mets said Dickey is day to day after an MRI showed a partial tear of the plantar fascia. Dickey said he was relieved by the test results.
“I don’t anticipate it being too bad. We’ll see how bad the pain is,” he said.
Dickey was running to cover first base in the third inning Thursday when he felt something in his foot and collapsed to the ground. He eventually limped off the field and down the dugout steps.
In the clubhouse after the game, Dickey wore a boot on his injured foot and used crutches to keep pressure off the injury. But he was in sneakers Friday, walking gingerly.
“It’s sore, but it’s probably 60 percent better than it was when I did it,” Dickey said. “It’s not a thing that’s going to improve. I mean, it’s ripped. It’s torn. It’s a partial tear, it’s not going to reattach. So I think having the comfort of knowing that I can’t do anything worse to it _ it’s just a matter of managing the symptoms _ helps.”
Pagan went on the disabled list April 22 and missed 30 games. The Mets said he had a strained left oblique, but he said he never thought it was his oblique that was bothering him. He was re-evaluated in New York this month and Pagan said the new diagnosis was a soft-bone cartilage injury in his rib cage.
He said he received a cortisone shot May 16 and has felt better since.
“So far, so good. Obviously, when you get an injection of cortisone, you feel like Superman. Nothing hurts,” he said, adding that he hopes that continues when the cortisone wears off.
Pagan played rehab games at Class-A St. Lucie and was supposed to move up to Buffalo on Thursday, but the Bisons’ game was rained out.
“Right now I have no pain in my ribs. I’ve been playing a few games in the minor leagues and I feel ready to go. So I’m very happy,” he said.
After a breakthrough season last year, Pagan got off to a very slow start in 2011. He was batting .159 with a homer and six RBIs before he got injured.
“I think I put a lot of pressure on myself,” Pagan said. “Everybody was expecting a lot from me and I was just trying to do more than I could do. So I think that’s a big mistake for me, but I learned from it and I’m ready to move on.”
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