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Mets morning briefing 7.29.11

Carlos Beltran made his San Francisco Giants debut, wearing No. 15 and going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Philadelphia while Tim Lincecum handled the Phillies. Meanwhile, those left behind are not doing too shabby. With a 10-9 win Thursday, the Mets swept a four-game series in Cincinnati for the first time. They now are 6½ games behind the wild-card-leading Braves.

The Mets now head to see Davey Johnson and the Washington Nationals, who have lost five straight to drop into last place in the NL East. Read the series preview here.

Friday's news report:

Sandy Alderson said he is very likely done before the trading deadline. Read more in Newsday.

Johan Santana made his first rehab start in the minors, tossing three scoreless innings and hitting 90 mph on occasion on a radar gun. Santana allowed two hits and hit a batter. He threw 33 pitches (26 strikes). "I believe you take that guy out to a major league mound right now and he'd give you everything he's got," rehab coordinator Randy Niemann said. "Physically, his shoulder's just not ready right now. We hope over the next month, we can build up the strength and recovery. It's paying off, but we have a ways to go."

• Record columnist Bob Klapisch offered these observations after watching Santana pitch in Port St. Lucie:

There were flashes of brilliance in Santana’s performance, specifically the way he feathered both sides of the plate. In allowing just two hits while fanning three, Santana threw 26 of his 33 pitches for strikes. It was living proof that Santana’s instinct for working in and out, changing hitters’ eye level, and ultimately controlling their bat speed is still intact. Surgery couldn’t touch Santana’s powerful aura, either: He just looked in control the moment he stepped on the rubber, albeit against kids, most of whom were as raw and unpolished as low-level minor leaguers get.

• Read more about Santana's minor league start in the Post and Newsday.

• Right-hander Zack Wheeler, 21, expects to make his first Mets start on Monday for Class A St. Lucie at Dunedin. Wheeler, the sixth overall pick in 2009, was acquired for Beltran.

Sam Borden of the Times speaks with Wheeler, who initially thought Giants outfield prospect Gary Brown might be the one involved in the deal for Beltran. “Then I went downstairs and turned on the television and saw that actually I was the one who was probably being traded,” Wheeler told Borden. Wheeler long envisioned himself one day joining Lincecum and Matt Cain in the San Francisco rotation. “I was kind of shocked at first,” Wheeler said about the trade. “Then I thought about it, and the Mets have a lot of young pitchers starting to come up in their organization, and I think that’s probably better for me.”

As for the spelling of his name, it's Z-A-C-K, not Z-A-C-H. “I mean, I’ve definitely had to give back plaques or awards and stuff so they can be redone,” Wheeler told Borden. “But to be honest, at this point, I’ve kind of gotten used to it.”

• The Star-Ledger's Andy McCullough writes this about Wheeler:

In the spring of 2009, as part of his role with the San Diego Padres, Paul DePodesta traversed the country to observe one of the nation’s top pitching prospects. In a crowd of some 30 scouts on a diamond in Georgia, DePodesta saw why Zack Wheeler would later become the No. 6 pick in that summer’s draft. “The two things that jumped out at me were he touched 99 mph and he had an absolute hammer curveball,” DePodesta said (Thursday) afternoon, a couple hours after Wheeler officially became a Met. “So a guy that had that quick of an arm, and that much power, and also the ability to spin the ball like he did -- it’s a relatively rare combination.”

• Giants general manager Brian Sabean said about Beltran's acquisition: “Quite frankly, I never thought I’d say this, but once Buster (Posey) went down I thought we were dead in the water to be able to come close to replacing him. And Carlos certainly has a chance to do that.” Beltran told reporters Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon had called him Thursday. When asked about his dominating performance with the Astros in 2004 after a trade from Kansas City, Beltran quipped: "I'm not thinking about '04. I already got paid for '04.'' Read reaction from Philly in the Times, Newsday, Daily News and Post.

• Read game stories from the Mets' 10-9 win in the Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday, Daily News, Post and Times.

• The criminal case against former clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels has its next scheduled court hearing on Sept. 26, it was determined at State Supreme Court in Queens on Thursday. Samuels is accused of stealing $2.3 million worth of team merchandise and memorabilia. Read more in Newsday.

• Post columnist Mike Vaccaro joins Willie Harris in saying: Ya Gotta Believe. Writes Vaccaro:

Point? General manager Sandy Alderson had a fiduciary responsibility not to get caught up in what-ifs and how-abouts and such, and he didn't. But you are under no such duty. This is your team: six out in the loss column, nine weeks to play. You pick up a game a week on the Braves -- who are black and blue right now, by the way -- and, well . . . Hey. You are allowed to hope, and you still have hope. Isn't that what this is supposed to be about?

BIRTHDAY: Felix Mantilla, who played in 141 games for the '62 Mets, was born on this date in 1934.