NEW YORK -- When Queens native Mike Baxter returned to his locker following Monday evening's victory over the Padres, he already had more than two dozen unread text messages on his phone. More buzzed across his display as the night progressed. Still more greeted him upon waking Tuesday morning.
"I don't know what the final number was, but it was a lot," Baxter said. "It was great to hear from everyone. It was really cool to see how many people just said hi and good luck."
A critical RBI double on the day of his callup helped old friends take notice of Baxter, who grew up in nearby Whitestone, Queens, and played his high school baseball at Archbishop Molloy. And it may have even earned him a reward -- Mets manager Terry Collins plans to give him his first start in the outfield on Wednesday.
Certainly, Baxter's friends and family will be watching. Rather than stay in a nearby hotel, as most Mets callups do, Baxter has moved back in with his parents and sister in Whitestone. His commute to Citi Field takes less than 10 minutes.
He is still trying to grasp the gravity of that good fortune.
"[Monday] was a whirlwind," Baxter said. "I think as time goes on, I'll kind of settle into what my job is and what my role is. That will be defined going forward. I just want to take advantage of the opportunities I'm given to help the team."
Pagan ready to take leadoff responsibilities
NEW YORK -- With shortstop Jose Reyes once again on the disabled list, the Mets have again called on center fielder Angel Pagan to fill in as the team's leadoff hitter.
Though Pagan felt he was most useful batting in the middle of the order and was reluctant to fill the void last time around, manager Terry Collins said Pagan embraced the opportunity when Collins called him into his office prior to Monday's game.
"When he left that room, we both were on exactly the same page moving forward," Collins said. "He knew that he was the guy that fills that spot the best. He understood the situation, that this was the time that the veteran player has to step up."
"He said, 'Look, I'll do whatever you need me to do. I'm swinging the bat better than I was before. I know I'm the right guy for that, and I'm ready to do it.'"
In 12 games batting leadoff while Reyes was last absent, Pagan batted .192 with a .246 on-base percentage and a .288 slugging percentage. Pagan attributed his struggles to having always hit better with men on base, while Collins thought Pagan tried to do too much to replace the production of the team's best player.
In the 16 games he played between Reyes' injuries, Pagan batted in the fifth and sixth spots and hit .266 with a .304 on-base percentage and a .391 slugging percentage, and he'd put together an excellent week at the plate before Reyes re-injured his hamstring. Collins said this increased comfort led Pagan to be more comfortable shifting back into the leadoff spot.
How Pagan performs over the next few months, in the leadoff spot and otherwise, could be critical to how the next few years of his career go. Pagan was one of the few bright spots on a disappointing 2010 team and was rewarded with the starting center fielder's job to begin 2011. Since then, he has had an up-and-down season sandwiched around an oblique injury that caused him to miss more than a month in April and May.
"I think he knows how good he is, I think he's pushing himself to be a better player," Collins said. "He wants to be a power hitter sometimes, because he's got the strength, he can hit homers. I think he's finding out, which I've seen lately, he's starting to realize what he's got to do to help the team he's on be successful. And that is, right now, get on base, play great defense and get yourself in scoring position and let those guys behind you drive you in."
Mets won't push Johan back too soon
NEW YORK -- Though Johan Santana spoke to Mets manager Terry Collins on Tuesday and revealed that the discomfort in his left shoulder has subsided -- good news, for certain -- the Mets have not announced a timetable for Santana to resume throwing in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
"I think he's staying patient, I really do," Collins said. "There are people around him that are more anxious to see him pitch, but he's resigned to the fact that this could be a process that could take some time."
General manager Sandy Alderson said Monday that Santana's shoulder discomfort, which the left-hander first reported early this month, should set his rehabilitation timetable back about two weeks. As long as Santana resumes throwing soon, he could still return to the Mets at some point in September.
But the team will not push him.
Undergoing surgery last September to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder, Santana was on track for a late-August return until this most recent bout of discomfort sidetracked his recovery.
"I was relieved when I heard it was just fatigue," Collins said. "He wants to pitch, and as soon as he can get back out there, we can start that clock again."
After pitching a scoreless seventh inning Tuesday, reliever Manny Acosta came out of the game after the first batter of the eighth, Alberto Gonzalez, hit a single off his right pinky. Acosta said after the game that his fingernail was ripped halfway off. He is day to day and likely will not pitch Wednesday.
First baseman Ike Davis saw a foot specialist Tuesday in North Carolina. Manager Terry Collins said after the 5-4 win over the Padres that the Mets will continue with the current plan of resting Davis for three weeks before re-evaluating him.
Lucas Duda, who hit a game-winning single Monday, started at first base against Padres left-hander Wade LeBlanc on Tuesday, in large part because lefties came into the game 11-for-21 against LeBlanc this season.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. Aaron Taube is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.