Mets morning briefing 7.29.12

PHOENIX -- Ike Davis slugged three solo homers, but Chris Young surrendered six runs in four innings and the Mets lost to the Diamondbacks, 6-3, Saturday at Chase Field.

Davis went 4-for-4 with a single and the three homers. His 13 total bases are tied for the second most in a game in franchise history, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The record-holder: Edgardo Alfonzo, with 16 total bases, on three homers, a double and two singles, in 1999. Davis' 13 total bases matched performances by Darryl Strawberry (1985), Claudell Washington (1980) and Jim Hickman (1965).

Since 2006, the Mets now are 1-2 when they have a player produce a three-homer game. The rest of baseball is 51-4 during that span, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Mets also lost a three-homer game by Jose Reyes in 2006.

In today's series finale, the Mets turn to R.A. Dickey (13-2, 2.97 ERA). The knuckleballer opposes left-hander Joe Saunders (5-6, 3.51) as the Mets try to claim a split of the four-game series before moving on to San Francisco and then San Diego.

Sunday's news reports:

• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post projects the Mets will sign David Wright to an extension this offseason. The Mets have a team option on Wright at $16 million for 2013 right now. Writes Sherman:

In fact, I was surprised how confident Mets officials sounded that they would find common ground this offseason and retain Wright long term. Wright’s return to elite status this year means the Mets have to expect to pay well north of the six-year, $100 million extension Washington gave to Ryan Zimmerman in February, when the third baseman still had two years at $26 million remaining on his previous deal. Wright is due $16 million next year, and the Mets do not want all the tension that would come from Wright playing in his walk year, since their intention is to retain him anyway.

The Mets’ confidence probably has something to do with feeling a bit more financially secure post-Madoff. Also, after letting Jose Reyes go, there is pressure to commit long term to a homegrown, beloved face of the franchise. In addition, the Mets think they have a strong relationship with Wright’s representatives at ACES, which has a reputation for getting strong deals, but also for not dragging matters out when they feel their clients want a certain location and a beneficial contract can be completed -- and Wright has never hidden his desire to be a career-long Met.

• Davis' three-homer game came on the day he paid tribute to a childhood friend, Mike Lio, who died of Ewing's sarcoma in 2009, shortly before the first baseman made his major league debut.

Meanwhile, Davis' family recently remained concerned about the extent of Davis' latent but suspected case of valley fever, even if the first baseman minimized the issue. Writes Andrew Keh in the Times:

Those back in Arizona had their concerns. There were cautionary tales, like that of Conor Jackson, who was picked by the Diamondbacks in the first round of the 2003 draft and quickly rose to the majors before being struck by the illness in 2009, when he lost 30 pounds and had his career derailed. After The New York Times published an article last month about Jackson, who has been playing this year in Class AAA, Davis’s mother, Millie, reached out to him with questions about his recovery. Two weeks ago, they connected for a 20-minute phone conversation. “I think she was familiar with my case and how bad I got it, so I think that was in the back of her mind,” said Jackson, whose message to Millie Davis was direct: “I reassured her. I said, ‘Listen, if he’s playing, and he feels good enough to play, then he’s fine.’” Jackson added, “When you have a situation that arises like this, baseball’s fourth in line of your problems or worries at that time.”

• Young allowed six runs in four innings against the Diamondbacks. He indicated the problem solely was pitch location. Read game recaps in the Star-Ledger, Times, Newsday, Record, Post and Daily News.

Frank Francisco's planned appearance with Double-A Binghamton on Saturday was scrapped when the closer felt uncomfortable on his left side. Francisco is rehabbing from a strained left oblique, so the setback signals that it is unlikely the closer will be activated Monday in San Francisco, which appeared the intent. Told by reporters about Francisco's setback after managing Saturday's major league game, Terry Collins said he had bad news of his own to share. But, the manager added, he was in no mood to do so after the loss. Collins then downplayed the gravity of the impending announcement before reporters left the visiting manager's office at Chase Field. Stay tuned.

Scott Hairston said he is unfazed by the widespread interest from teams who would like to acquire him at the trade deadline. The bottom line, rightly or wrongly, is that Sandy Alderson wants to keep the 2012 team as competitive as possible, so it's unlikely Hairstson gets dealt before Tuesday's deadline, unless a team makes a substantial offer. Hairston is signed at $1.1 million for this season, then is eligible for free agency. He told ESPNNewYork.com the Mets have not broached the topic of a contract extension with him.

“I do want stability,” Hairston told Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger. “I want to at least have a season where I don’t have to worry about where I’m going to be the next year. So I don’t know what the Mets are going to decide. They haven’t really came to me and talked to me about next year. It’s just one of those things. I just have to keep playing. I know things are going to work out. I’m not too worried about it. I just want to keep my focus on my job here. Everything else will take care of itself.”

Jason Bay went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Saturday and is now hitless in his past 19 at-bats. With the Mets facing a southpaw today, it's likely Bay will remain in the lineup. Mike Puma in the Post reports Mike Baxter is poised to take over left-field duty against right-handed pitching, leaving Bay only to face southpaws, if Bay's production does not pick up in the next week. Read more on Bay in Newsday.

• Baxter should be back Monday in San Francisco after completing his rehab assignment with Triple-A Buffalo. He doubled and played a full game in left field while going 1-for-4 Saturday with the Bisons. “I’m just so excited to get back out there and play again,’’ Baxter told Kevin Kernan in the Post. “What took the longest to heal was the separated collarbone. The ribs and the cartilage and all that other stuff was pretty good in terms of healing and getting back into baseball shape, but the collarbone slowed everything down."

• 2012 first-round pick Gavin Cecchini produced his first professional homer, a grand slam that opened a five-run lead, and Kingsport beat Bristol, 9-5. Read Saturday's full minor league recap here.

• Savannah pitching coach Frank Viola, who remains the Mets' last 20-game winner, had joined Twitter. You can follow Viola at @FrankViola16. His daughter Brittany is a diving competitor at the London Olympics. Follow her at @BrittanyViola.

Josh Thole said he is prepared to catch Matt Harvey's second major league start, opposite Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum on Tuesday in San Francisco. Rob Johnson, who was Harvey's batterymate at Buffalo, was promoted last week along with the 2010 first-round pick and handled Harvey's major league debut. "I've seen enough of him," Thole told Anthony Rieber in Newsday. "... I watched him the other night and have a pretty good feel of what he likes to do."

• Left-handed reliever C.J. Nitkowski, who is attempting a comeback with the Binghamton Mets at age 39, will appear in a movie to be released next year about Jackie Robinson. Writes Tyler Kepner in the Times:

C. J. Nitkowski made the big time this summer, without even really trying. He will play the role of Dutch Leonard, a pitcher for the 1947 Philadelphia Phillies, in the movie “42,” about Jackie Robinson, to be released next April. He got the part through a connection in the youth baseball league he helps coach in Georgia. “The fact that I have a name and I’m not just ‘Baseball Pitcher,’ I guess that’s a big deal for actors, to get that,” said Nitkowski, a former major league reliever. “It’s not my profession, so I didn’t get too worked up about it, but people go to battle to get those roles.”

TRIVIA: At which university did Jeremy Hefner pitch?

Saturday's answer: Francisco, Bobby Parnell, Ramon Ramirez and Jon Rauch have earned saves for the Mets this season.