The Mets may finally be back at full strength, and that's not good news for the other teams in the National League East.As they prepare to take on the D-backs in the middle of their 11-game road trip, the Mets expect to have second baseman Luis Castillo, shortstop Jose Reyes and outfielder Carlos Beltran back in the lineup. The Mets are expected to activate Castillo and start him at second base Monday against the D-backs, marking his first game back in the Majors since June 4, when he originally went on the disabled list with a bruised right heel. "On-base is his big help," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "His ability to see a lot of pitches -- it's kind of something we've liked." Reyes, who took batting practice Sunday but still sat out his fifth consecutive game, is also expected to take on the D-backs after appearing to be recovered from a sore right oblique. Beltran, who had a scheduled day off in the Mets' finale against the Giants, will join them. It will be the first time since April 13, 2009, that the Mets had all eight regular position players in their starting lineup, and that's something pitcher Mike Pelfrey will embrace. Originally slated to pitch Saturday against the Giants, Pelfrey's start was pushed back to Monday after he said he developed a stiff neck while on the plane to San Francisco on Thursday. "I think any kind of break is good," Pelfrey said. "Whether it's a day, three days, whatever. I think it's always well needed." With a Mets lineup at full health, the news doesn't seem to be too promising for the D-backs, who are also coming off a series loss on the road. After getting swept in three games at San Diego -- by a combined score of 26-10 -- the D-backs will hope to stave off a New York lineup on a home turf where they're just 21-25 this year. They'll turn to Ian Kennedy to get the series started on the right foot. Kennedy was arguably Arizona's best starter in the first half of the season. He's gotten some extra days off as the D-backs try to limit his innings. Mets: Takahashi in rotation -- for now
As Oliver Perez continues to rehab with Triple-A Buffalo, the Mets still haven't decided on whether to use him in the rotation or in the bullpen. As Hisanori Takahashi continues to struggle as a starter, the move looked probable that Perez would slide into the rotation. But Manuel says he still hasn't made a decision on that. "I'm sure in the next day or so we'll continue to have conversations and try to find out what's the best fit for us and the best fit for him," Manuel said of Takahashi. "But as we sit here right now, he'll have his next start." D-backs: Gibson encourages Drew
Interim manager Kirk Gibson has told shortstop Stephen Drew to stop pushing as he tries to get out of his recent offensive struggles. Drew was 0-for-7 in the D-backs' first two games after the All-Star break and hit just .231 during the month of June after starting the season on a tear. "Stephen is so hard on himself," Gibson said. "I would have to say that Stephen probably, of all the guys I've been around, is the most unlucky hitter I've ever seen. He's had some tough luck." Worth noting
The D-backs were just 3-7 on their last homestand. After facing the Mets, they'll welcome the Giants for four games before hitting the road again. ... Manuel said Sunday that he may name Angel Pagan as the starting right fielder over Jeff Francoeur, who has struggled in the month of July with a batting average under .200.
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