PHILADELPHIA -- The kids are here. Now what about the adults?
David Wright and Carlos Beltran combined to go 5-for-45 with two RBIs on a critical six-game trip for the New York Mets, as the week that included the promotions of prospects Fernando Martinez and Ruben Tejada ended with a 6-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park.
The Mets went 2-4 during their trip to Atlanta and Philadelphia and again dipped under .500 for the season; they're now at 55-56.
They now return to what figures to be an angry home crowd, which has had a handful of days to marinate on principal owner Fred Wilpon's endorsement of the status quo. Wilpon last week propped up general manager Omar Minaya as the Mets continued to tie up a roster spot by refusing to eat the contract of left-hander Oliver Perez.
(Had the Mets had an extra bench player instead of Perez on Sunday, they perhaps could have pinch hit for Tejada in the seventh or ninth innings. They couldn't, however, since they had no middle infielders remaining on the bench with Luis Castillo having already been used as a substitute in the fifth.)
Although it may no longer be worth mentioning, the Mets fell a season-high nine games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves, who beat the San Francisco Giants 6-3 on Sunday. The wild-card standings hardly look prettier, with the Giants up by 7½ games and four other teams ahead of the Mets.
"It's not ideal. That's the obvious answer," Wright said. "But it is what it is. We've dug ourselves a hole. We're going to have to do quite a bit of work these last 50 games or so to get back in it."
Manager Jerry Manuel had contemplated sitting Beltran on Sunday against Phillies ace Roy Halladay, but the center fielder insisted his surgically repaired right knee felt fine and asked to play because of the game's importance. Beltran and Wright each went 0-for-4. Manuel even pulled Beltran on a double-switch in the middle of the seventh -- an indictment of Beltran's struggles, although it's worth noting that his turn in the order never came up again.
"They both struggled on this trip," Manuel said about Beltran and Wright. "I don't know what the final numbers were, or what they actually did, but it just appeared that they were in good situations and just weren't able to get it done."
Afterward, Manuel indicated Beltran would sit Tuesday, when the Mets regroup at Citi Field to face the Colorado Rockies after an off-day. Beltran is now hitting .195 in 22 games since returning from knee surgery on Jan. 13.
His fielding has shown rust, too. Beltran was trying to adjust to the ball's path on a second-inning shot by Jayson Werth that went over his head. The center fielder didn't realize he had run out of room and slammed into the wall. Beltran suggested that, had he spaced himself properly, he would have been able to reach over the fence and corral the ball, which cleared for a solo homer by the narrowest of margins.
"That play right there, I didn't know how close I was to the wall. And when I was about to jump, I just got stuck in the fence," Beltran said.
"I would have caught it if I wouldn't have got stuck in the fence."
Said Manuel: "That was kind of an unusual sight for a center fielder that plays every day to not have the bearing as to where you are. It's just a matter of getting out there."
The next time Werth batted, during a five-run third inning against R.A. Dickey that opened a 6-2 lead, Beltran had a sinking shot fall in front of him. Beltran has always been more adept at pursuing balls backward in the gap than sinking liners in front of him, but when on his game, he likely catches what instead became a double for Werth.
"Late break," Manuel said.
As for sitting Beltran in the series opener against the Rockies, Manuel said: "I've got to stay with keeping him fresh versus keep playing him and hope that he's still there."
"I don't need to refresh from nothing," Beltran countered. I just need to keep working and keep coming to the ballpark and doing my thing. My leg feels good. I'm pain-free. I want to play. But if that's his decision, what can I do about it?"
The truth is that Beltran and Wright don't have much of a leg to stand on after their performances during the 2-4 trip. Wright was 2-for-23, while Beltran was 3-for-22.
When asked what went wrong for him, Wright said: "I didn't get any hits. Pretty simple."