As closer Francisco Rodriguez relocates to Milwaukee, the New York Mets' lineup is close to becoming whole for the first time this season, with infielders Jose Reyes, David Wright and Ike Davis all making progress toward returns from injuries.
Their comebacks may coincide with a further breakup, however. General manager Sandy Alderson appears poised to further dismantle the team before the July 31 trade deadline if the Mets do not open the second half with a surge, beginning with a weekend series at Citi Field against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Mets (46-45) open the second half trailing division-leading Philadelphia by 11 games and the wild-card-leading Braves by 7½ games.
Reyes took batting practice with fellow National League All-Stars on Tuesday. He is eligible to return from the disabled list for a left hamstring strain after the weekend series against Philadelphia and is hopeful of doing so, although manager Terry Collins has forecasted Reyes' return for the following weekend against the Florida Marlins in Miami.
Wright, who last appeared in a major league game on May 15, after which a stress fracture was diagnosed in his lower back, is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment Friday with Class A St. Lucie at Lakeland, Fla. Alderson said the plan is for Wright to be activated a week from Friday, in Miami.
Davis also has made positive strides. Working at Fischer Sports in his native Phoenix, Davis ran last Saturday bearing his full weight and reported no discomfort with the left ankle he originally injured May 10 at Colorado in a collision with Wright near the mound. The fear had been that Davis would need season-ending surgery to address cartilage damage if the first baseman's ankle did not respond to the recent running.
Davis is expected to begin baseball activities in New York this weekend, although Alderson advised not to count on Davis until August.
Even left-hander Johan Santana could make an appearance next month -- although Alderson downplays the contribution the southpaw may be able to provide as he rehabs from Sept. 14 surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. Santana is poised to face batters in Port St. Lucie, Fla., as a spring training-like program begins.
Assuming the Mets do fade further from contention and Alderson begins to really remake the roster, right fielder Carlos Beltran and relievers Jason Isringhausen and Tim Byrdak could find new homes. Alderson has indicated there is little chance he will trade Reyes.
Beltran used a trade from the Kansas City Royals to Houston in 2004, and eight homers in 12 postseason games with the Astros that year, to set up his now-expiring seven-year, $119 million contract with the Mets. Despite full no-trade protection, Beltran has indicated he would not resist a trade to a team that is likely playoff-bound.
"I'm not saying I would love to be traded, or I'm going to be traded. Right now we're playing good baseball," Beltran said. "I like where I am. We're having fun. And we just hope to continue to improve."
Meanwhile, Collins' immediate tasks will be convincing his players that Tuesday's trade of K-Rod does not wave a white flag.
The manager is likely to see whether Bobby Parnell can handle the closer's role as an audition for that job in 2012, and give Isringhausen -- who has 293 career saves -- a shot at 300.