Pregame notes: Nickeas caught '05 Dickey

Mike Nickeas

New York Mets


Mike Nickeas caught R.A. Dickey twice in spring-training games this preseason, but their relationship goes way back.

When Dickey was first starting to mix the knuckleball into his repertoire in 2005 with Texas, Nickeas was a farmhand in Rangers major league camp. Nickeas fondly remembers having a catching competition with other Rangers catchers in spring training that year -- called "drop games."

Like in golf scoring, the catchers would self-report the number of pitches dropped, including games, bullpen sessions and warm-ups. Nickeas had the highest percentage of pitches caught going into the final days, among a group of catchers that also included Rod Barajas and Gerald Laird. But Nickeas drew Dickey a couple of times in the final few days of camp as Dickey was still working on the knuckleball. Nickeas ended up losing the catching competition by a few drops.

Nickeas was traded to the Mets in August 2006 for outfielder Victor Diaz.

Dickey, who starts Wednesday as Nickeas' batterymate, made his Mets debut in D.C. last May 19.

Scott Hairston

Left Field
New York Mets


Terry Collins said he did not consider riding his hot lineup and starting Daniel Murphy, Jason Pridie or Josh Thole against Nats left-hander Tom Gorzelanny on Wednesday. The manager said he needs to keep the other players sharp, and added about Hairston particularly: "That's why he's here, to face left-handers."

Hairston has not played center field as a Met, but Collins said he may be more comfortable in that position than a corner outfield spot anyway, since he started there 18 times with the Padres last season.

Ike Davis takes an eight-game hitting streak into Wednesday's game. Keys to that run, and avoiding a sophomore slump, are Davis' willingness to cut down on his swing in some counts and his use of the whole field, according to Collins.

• While Carlos Beltran will start his 12th straight game on Wednesday, Collins said he still routinely checks with the right fielder to ensure he's available. Collins suggested Beltran could get a rest during Saturday's matinee in Philly, even though the Mets had a team off-day last Monday and also are off this upcoming Monday.