Beltran off Sunday, other tidbits

Terry Collins expects Carlos Beltran will sit Sunday's finale. With Jason Bay on the disabled list, Collins' preferred alignment is inexperienced Lucas Duda in right field and Willie Harris in left field.

Collins said Duda has made big strides in the outfield overall, even if right field is more unfamiliar than left field. Collins has seen Duda's outfield arm strength grow in the past year.

Other tidbits:

Josh Thole

New York Mets


Josh Thole should start all three games of the series with Monday being an off-day. Mike Nickeas is the backup catcher in Ronny Paulino's absence.

• Collins does not believe Bay has yet been cleared to resume baseball activities. He's still getting therapy for a strained left rib-cage muscle.

Daniel Murphy, the primary bat for the bench, will "get a lot of at-bats" this season, Collins predicted. The manager sounded like the largest workload would be at second base, with some time at first base on days Ike Davis is off. Murphy played a round of batting practice in right field Friday.

• Collins echoed bullpen coach Jon Debus' comment that Chin-lung Hu would probably be the emergency third catcher if something happened in-game to Thole and Nickeas. Collins cited Hu having "good hands." Hu said he has never caught.

• Collins said he needs to speak with Francisco Rodriguez about how to use him if there's a gap between save chances to keep him sharp. The manager said their previous conversations have mostly centered on multi-inning usage.

The usage between save chances affects whether K-Rod finishes 55 games, which would vest his contract for 2012 at $17.5 million.