Mets morning briefing 8.24.11

Not only did the Mets lose, 9-4, to the Phillies on Tuesday to match a season-low at eight games under .500, the Amazin's also lost two more players to the disabled list. Jon Niese and Scott Hairston both had side muscle injuries.

The Mets already needed a spot starter because of a doubleheader Monday against the Marlins. Now they'll need two starters for that series -- the other to fill Niese's rotation spot. Terry Collins expected the candidates to be Miguel Batista, Chris Schwinden and Pat Misch.

Mike Nickeas is expected to join the Mets as a third catcher to take Hairston's roster spot. The rumblings, while not certain, are that Batista is most likely to be around sooner than later.

Wednesday's news reports:

Angel Pagan, who left Monday's lineup with a gastric issue, returned to center field on Tuesday. The center fielder said his health trouble, while in check, is no laughing matter. He has suffered from colitis, an intestional issue, since 2004 as a Mets farmhand. He even once landed on the disabled list while with the Chicago Cubs as a result of the issue. Read more in the Post and Newsday.

• Philadelphia-based attorney John V. Donnelly and University of Dayton bankruptcy law expert Jeff Morris discuss the status of the $1 billion lawsuit against Fred Wilpon and family in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme mess. A judge is expected to rule by late September on whether to toss the case in whole or in part.

Johan Santana was due to return to a mound on Tuesday in Port St. Lucie for the first time since appearing for Class A St. Lucie on July 28. (Newsday had him throwing 45 pitches during the session.) The Mets hope Santana can be in a game again during the final week of the minor league regular season -- the first week of September. They have not completely written off Santana appearing in the majors this year, but the timetable is not favorable, even without another setback. The best-case scenario may be one game at the very end of the season.

Gary Carter, whose more intense round of chemotherapy had been delayed, now has a sufficient white-blood-cell count to proceed.

Jose Reyes will begin a three-game rehab assignment with Double-A Binghamton on Thursday. He will have an off-day Sunday, then should rejoin the Mets for Monday's doubleheader at Citi Field against the Marlins.

• Hotels in Philadelphia swayed, but Mets players who already had arrived at Citizens Bank Park mostly barely felt a ripple from Tuesday's earthquake centered in Virginia. Read more in Newsday, the Record and Star-Ledger.

Ruben Tejada batted second and went 1-for-4 on Tuesday, while Lucas Duda started in right field and belted a two-run homer in the eighth off Michael Stutes.

• The Mets actually stared at five called third strikes from plate umpire Tim Welke over the first two innings -- all with two runners in scoring position. "I don't mind umpires calling strikes," Collins said. "Make no mistake about it. Tim called them the same for both sides. When the strikes are being called, you've got to be a little bit aggressive. ... We took them and struck out." Read Niese-Hairston injury stories/game recaps in the Times, Post, Star-Ledger, Record, Dailly News and Newsday.

BIRTHDAY: Former reliever Bartolome Fortunato, who was acquired from Tampa Bay with Victor Zambrano in the Scott Kazmir trade on July 30, 2004, turns 37.