WASHINGTON -- The Mets saw firsthand on Saturday how quickly trades can develop, learning hours before first pitch that the Nationals had traded away their probable starter, Jason Marquis, as well as utilityman Jerry Hairston Jr. Watching all that unfold reminded the Mets that despite their own general manager's proclamations, there is still a small chance of another deal prior to Sunday's 4 p.m. Trade Deadline.

Providing evidence of that much, GM Sandy Alderson opted to remain in his New York office this weekend, rather than make a scheduled trip to join the Mets in Washington.

"Sandy's well aware of what's going on, and what he wants to do, and how he wants to get there," manager Terry Collins said. "He doesn't ask my opinion on certain guys. He knows what we need."

That said, the Mets remain unlikely to swing a third deal this month following the trades of Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran. Though the team possesses several useful chips with expiring contracts, including starter Chris Capuano and lefty specialist Tim Byrdak, Alderson said earlier this week that he feels somewhat obligated to keep the rest of his club intact.

"For me, thinking about going to another team, it's too big to think about right now," Capuano said. "My focus is very much on cleaning up my execution."

Johan's return may give Mets a six-man staff

WASHINGTON -- The Mets are considering using a six-man rotation when Johan Santana returns from the disabled list next month, manager Terry Collins said Saturday.

Though much could change between now and Aug. 27, when Santana's 30-day Minor League rehab assignment will expire, the Mets have at least had preliminary discussions of expanding their rotation to six members once he returns. No one in the current rotation has pitched poorly enough to warrant an obvious demotion.

The decision could also hinge upon whether the Mets are still in playoff contention at the time, or playing with an eye toward 2012.

Firing three scoreless innings in his first rehab start Thursday, Santana is scheduled to pitch again for Class A St. Lucie on Wednesday. The Mets expect him to advance to the higher levels of the Minor Leagues at some point next month, as Santana continues to build arm strength following last September's surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder.

"It seems like he has some life on his pitches," said Mets third baseman David Wright, who took batting practice against Santana during his own recent injury rehab in Florida. "The first time I faced him, it wasn't very hard. And the next time was OK. And the next time was actually pretty good stuff. I know for a fact he's on the right track."

Wright's jumped right in with swing since return

WASHINGTON -- In one corner of David Wright's brain, the third baseman feared returning from the disabled list, struggling, and muddling what had been a successful Mets team.

"One of my biggest concerns was that I would come back and do something to hurt these guys," said Wright, who returned last weekend from a two-month absence due to a stress fracture in his lower back. "They'd been doing a good job of hanging in there, playing well, and I didn't want to be that guy that comes back and takes two weeks to get back in the swing of things."

Those worries have since proved unwarranted. Riding by far his most productive stretch of the season since returning, Wright entered Saturday's play with an eight-game hitting streak (including multiple hits in seven of them), with a .459 average, two home runs, three doubles and 12 RBIs in the span.

In short order, he has become by far the team's most productive hitter.

"It's fun to get hits," Wright said. "After missing so much time, it kind of puts your mind at ease."

Progress showing for Mets reliever Carrasco

WASHINGTON -- Even after striking out Danny Espinosa and Ryan Zimmerman in succession Friday, preserving a shaky three-run lead in the eighth, Mets reliever D.J. Carrasco could not be content with his body of work.

"I still don't feel like the D.J. of old," he said.

The comfort level that helped Carrasco develop into one of the game's most consistent relievers over the past three summers simply has not surfaced this season -- his first since signing a guaranteed two-year deal with the Mets. As a result, Carrasco has all but ditched the sidearm delivery that he used often in April, relying more heavily on four-seam fastballs from a three-quarters arm slot. Only after he establishes some consistency will Carrasco attempt to drop his arm down on a more regular basis.

That has all been part of the struggle for Carrasco, who stopped relying on his sidearm delivery following a demotion to the Minors in April. At the time, Carrasco had posted a 5.91 ERA in eight big league appearances, walking as many batters (six) as he struck out. And he hardly improved upon his return to the big leagues.

But Friday's appearance marked another step in the right direction. Since July 5, Carrasco has modestly reduced his ERA, posting a 4.70 mark in that span. Perhaps more telling, he has struck out eight without walking a batter over his last 7 2/3 innings -- certainly an improvement, though not enough for manager Terry Collins to begin using him more regularly in the later innings.

"We've just had some guys that have pitched so well in some big spots that you stay with them in certain situations," Collins said, referring to Bobby Parnell and Pedro Beato in particular. "Bobby's going to pitch the majority of those eighth innings."