NEW YORK -- According to manager Jerry Manuel, shortstop Jose Reyes could be back with the Mets on Saturday.

But at some point Friday -- probably in the morning -- the Mets' decision-makers will gather, exchange ideas and determine the time has come for Reyes to play baseball again. It will not be a momentous decision or even a difficult one. The club has handled the latest set of circumstances with its shortstop in a most conservative way, demonstrating a level of patience it wishes some of its hitters could achieve.

No matter. It will be a decision with momentous impact.

Whatever levels of anticipation and optimism the Mets brought to their 2010 season will get a booster shot when Reyes returns. Their offense will improve, the defense will narrow some of its infield gaps and the smile quotient in the dugout and clubhouse will improve.

Manuel, after providing all the obligatory qualifiers, said "It's likely he will play here Saturday."

That would be the day Reyes, assigned to the disabled list retroactive to March 26, will be eligible for reinstatement.

Reyes played nine innings in a Florida State League game in Jupiter Thursday night. He was hitless in four at-bats.

Igarashi makes big league debut with Mets

NEW YORK -- Ryota Igarashi made his big league debut Thursday night, pitching a hitless seventh inning. The 30-year-old rookie was with the Yakult Swallows of the Japanese League for 11 seasons and is the 11th Japanese-born player to play with the Mets.

Wright defends ninth-inning steal

NEW YORK -- While some found fault with David Wright's steal of second base in the ninth inning in Wednesday night's 7-6, 10-inning loss to the Marlins, Wright defended his decision Thursday. He had stolen with two outs, the score tied at 6 and a 1-1 count on Jason Bay. Switch-hitter Gary Matthews Jr. was on deck.

Once first base was unoccupied, the Marlins completed an intentional walk that allowed them to face a lesser hitter who would bat lefty against right-hander Leo Nunez. Manager Jerry Manuel took no issue with the steal, but acknowledged it was a 50-50 call on the wisdom of denying a run producer the chance to drive in a run.

Wright pointed out the Marlins' outfield was in a "no doubles" alignment and questioned whether the chance of a double by Bay was greater than the chance for a single by Matthews.

Manuel shuffles lineup against Marlins

NEW YORK -- Manager Jerry Manuel changed the lineup for the third game of the series against the Marlins. As he had said Wednesday, rookie Ruben Tejada started at shortstop. He had intended to have Tejada bat leadoff against left-hander Nate Robertson; he decided against that plan Thursday. Manuel wanted an alternative leadoff batter, and because Gary Matthews Jr. had played 10 innings Wednesday night, Manuel opted for Angel Pagan to make his first start.

Tejada batted eighth. Mike Jacobs, who had started the first two games, was displaced against Robertson by Fernando Tatis, who batted sixth, following Jeff Francoeur. Jason Bay batted fourth.

This day in Mets history ... April 8

The 1969 Mets lost, 11-10, to the expansion Expos at Shea Stadium in Opening Day on this date. The Mets scored four runs in the ninth inning, having allowed four in the eighth. ... A single off Steve Carlton in the ninth inning by Joe Torre, the 11th Opening Day third baseman in Mets history, drove in the decisive run in a 2-1 victory against the Phillies on this date in 1975. ... The Mets defeated the Expos, 6-5, on Ed Kranepool's pinch-hit two-run home run off Stan Bahnsen in the ninth inning at Shea Stadium on this date in 1978. The attendance for the second game of the season was 7,259, merely 4,477 fewer than the figure on Opening Day. ... Dwight Gooden achieved 14 outs on ground balls in a complete-game Opening Day victory in Pittsburgh on this date in 1986. Keith Hernandez drove in two runs in the 4-2 win. ... Buddy Harrelson wanted his Mets team to run. And on the only Opening Day of his brief managerial career, Hubie Brooks stole home on the front end of a double steal on this date in 1991. The run was decisive in the Mets' 2-1 victory against the Phillies at Shea.

En route to an 11-1 start and a career best 15-9 record, Bobby Jones gained his second victory in two starts on this date in 1997, pitching eight innings in the Mets' 5-3 victory at Dodger Stadium. John Olerud had four hits, while Bernard Gilkey and Todd Hundley drove in two runs each. ... Ty Wigginton hit a two-run home run and a double and drove in three runs in the Mets' 4-2 victory against the Marlins in Miami on April 8, 2003. Tsuyoshi Shinjo had three hits as well. ... And last year on this date, Oliver Perez walked five and allowed eight runs in 4 1/3 innings in the Mets' 8-6 loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park. The Mets had one extra-base hit, a double by Ryan Church.