NEW YORK -- Mets center fielder Angel Pagan left Thursday's game against the Astros with a pulled muscle in his left side, after fouling off a pitch in his fifth-inning at-bat.
With temperatures dipping into the mid-40s at Citi Field, Pagan tweaked his oblique muscle on a J.A. Happ fastball, swinging twice more in the at-bat and ultimately popping out to right field. He did not return to the field on defense, giving way to Willie Harris in center field.
Pagan, who missed time last year with an oblique strain that nearly landed him on the disabled list, estimated that he may miss two or three games.
"I don't think it's as bad as last year," he said. "Hopefully, it will only take a few days and I can be back for the team and start playing well."
"As we all know, that's something you can't take likely," manager Terry Collins said.
Initially, it appeared that Pagan injured his side colliding with second baseman Justin Turner on a defensive play in the fourth. Though Pagan was worried that he hurt his left elbow chasing after a popup on the play, he came away unscathed.
If Pagan winds up missing a significant amount of time due to the oblique strain, the Mets could dip into the Minors to replace him. In the interim, they will proceed with a platoon of Harris and Scott Hairston, both of whom have center field experience.
Perhaps the time off will even be good for Pagan, whose 0-for-3 Thursday dropped him to 2-for-28 over his last eight games, with his season average dipping to .159.
"I've been trying a little too hard these last couple days, maybe putting a little too much pressure on myself at the plate and it's not working for me," Pagan said. "Hopefully this is nothing that affects me for a long time."