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ARI@NYM: Montero fans 10 over six frames

After recently aggravating his right lat muscle injury trying to come back too soon, Mets right-hander Dillon Gee's return remains uncertain. Gee flew down to Florida on Wednesday along with outfielder Eric Young Jr. (strained right hamstring) to increase the intensity of his rehab program.

In the meantime, rookie right-hander Rafael Montero -- who will start Friday night matchup with the Phillies -- will continue to hold a spot in the rotation. Montero will oppose Philadelphia right-hander A.J. Burnett in the second contest of a five-game series.

Montero was solid in his third Major League start Sunday against the D-backs, surrendering one run on two hits while striking out 10 in six innings in a 2-1 Mets loss.

Burnett did not fare as well in his last start. The right-hander gave up six runs (four earned) on 11 hits in seven innings a 6-0 defeat to the Dodgers on Sunday. Burnett has losses in three of last four starts.

Mets: Abreu to make another spot start
• Forty-year-old Bobby Abreu will start in the outfield again Friday after starting three consecutive games there earlier this week. Abreu is swinging one of the Mets' hottest bats with five hits over those three games, but manager Terry Collins is concerned about "wearing him down."

"You've just got to be careful," Collins said.

For Collins, starting Abreu means accepting a defensive downgrade while also ensuring that his top left-handed pinch-hitter will not be available. But considering how starved the Mets have been for outfield offense, those are sacrifices that Collins is willing to make.

Phillies: Brown is getting his chances
• Left fielder Domonic Brown has been struggling at the plate, but it isn't because he's not getting pitches to hit.

"He gets pitches to hit and he fouls them off," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Before you know it, he's got two strikes. Then they're expanding the zone and he's having a hard time laying off those pitches in that situation. I see him getting fastballs. I see him getting pitches away. I see him getting pitches in. He's just not connecting on his pitch."

Brown's .579 OPS as a left fielder is 24th out of 25 qualifying left fielders.

Worth noting
• Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee, who is on the disabled list with a strained left elbow, has not been cleared to begin a throwing program. In fact, it might not happen until next week.

"He's going through some strength tests," Sandberg said. "Just a little slight sensation left. So he'll be evaluated daily to see how that changes. No throwing yet

• Phillies third baseman Cody Asche is on the DL with a strained left hamstring. He is eligible to be activated June 7, but that is far from certain.

"He'll need some time to get back, working his way back into at-bats and that scenario on a rehab stint," Sandberg said.

• In his first start since turning 41, Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings Thursday. The right-hander fanned Ike Davis in the sixth inning for the 2,000th strikeout of his career. He finished the outing with a season-high nine whiffs.

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