Commentary

Francoeur, Pagan give Mets a jolt

Dynamic duo collaborate on comeback -- and nobody's in a hurry to see Beltran

Updated: June 6, 2010, 8:27 PM ET
By Ian Begley | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Jeff Francoeur's fingerprints were all over the Mets' come-from-behind 7-6 win over the Marlins on Sunday.

His game-tying three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh brought the Mets all the way back from a 5-0 sixth-inning deficit, making it possible for Angel Pagan to score the winning run in the bottom of the eighth.

Francoeur, mired in a brutal slump last month, has now hit safely in 10 consecutive games. His batting average is back up to .263. It had dipped as low as .211 on May 23 at the tail-end of a 24-game streak in which he hit an abysmal .143 (11-for-77).

"He's in a good spot right now," manager Jerry Manuel said of Francoeur, who also made a spectacular catch on Hanley Ramirez's dangerous line drive to deep right field in the fourth inning. "We just have to keep him there."

Pagan also made his presence felt on Sunday. In addition to scoring the game-winning run, Pagan went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. He also hit a two-run single in the sixth to cut the Marlins' lead to 5-3.

Somewhere in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Carlos Beltran -- the Mets' $119-million man -- may have been watching the game with a smile.

Beltran played in extended spring training games on Friday and Saturday as part of a rehabilitation of his arthritic right knee. The 33-year-old had offseason surgery in January to repair his knee, and the team says he is at least four to six weeks away from returning to Queens.

But, in watching Francoeur and Pagan lead the Mets to a three-game sweep of the Marlins, it was hard not to think about how the team will handle Beltran's return.

Do the Mets move Pagan -- who's hitting .291 with 25 RBIs -- into a part-time role, in which he'd platoon with Francoeur in right and back up Beltran?

If Francoeur continues to wield a hot bat, it would be hard to justify taking him out of the lineup on a regular basis. And Pagan, who's had four go-ahead RBIs and nine RBIs with two outs this year, has been an extremely important piece for the Mets.

But, Manuel says, the Beltran problem is one that he'll welcome with open arms -- and rightfully so. It beats trying to figure out how to banish Oliver Perez from the clubhouse.

"I think that's a tremendous problem to have," Manuel said after the Mets completed their fourth sweep of the season. "I think it gives us an opportunity to keep people fresh as well as keep him fresh."

The Beltran Watch has barely started, so there's plenty of time to decide how to fit him in if and when he returns to Citi Field A team official said there is no plan in place for Beltran to play in a minor league game, at which point the Mets would have 20 days to decide how they'd like to put him on the roster.

"Right now, I'm trying to cover his spot," Pagan said when asked about Beltran's return. "Whatever happens after that, I'm just going to have to adjust.

"We're looking forward to having him back because he's a big piece of this team. Hopefully I've done a good job out there to cover him up."

Beltran was also the furthest thing from Francoeur's mind.

"I don't think about that at all, man, that's going to happen when it's going to happen," Francoeur said. "We have no clue when he's coming back ... We're going to be excited when we get him back. But at the same time, with what we have here, we just have to keep plugging away and keep going."

Ian Begley is a contributor to ESPNNewYork.com

More from ESPNNewYork.com

Ian Begley

ESPN New York Writer

SPONSORED HEADLINES

EDITORS' PICKS

  • All Jacked Up
    Deron Williams was back, but it was Jarrett Jack who led the Nets over the Celtics.
  • Crime And Punishment
    Knicks forward Quincy Acy was slapped with a one-game suspension.
  • Too Legit To Quit
    Jets WR Percy Harvin (ribs) sounds determined to play in Sunday's season finale.
  • Wait Until Next Year
    Devon Kennard, the Giants' promising rookie linebacker, will miss Sunday's game.
  • Chumps!
    We rank our top 10 most loathed New York sports figures of 2014.

ALSO SEE

MORE MLB HEADLINES