CIN@NYM: Davis' pinch-hit slam sends Mets to victory

NEW YORK -- One day after bashing a walk-off grand slam, Ike Davis made his first start at first base since Opening Day.

That much was coincidence; Mets manager Terry Collins had penciled Davis in for Sunday's start prior to the weekend, wanting to keep his former first base starter fresh. Because it came on the heels of Saturday's dramatics, the opportunity created -- at least in theory -- a thought that Davis may be able to reclaim his starting job sooner rather than later. But Collins was adamant in saying that Duda will start Tuesday in Atlanta, no matter what happens.

"We've got to at least stick by our plan a little bit," Collins said Sunday morning. "I hope Ike has a big game today, but the plan is set in stone in Atlanta."

It is a plan that Collins mapped out late last week, after naming Duda the starter and telling Davis that he would receive only sporadic opportunities.

"When I talked to him the other day, I said, 'Listen, you're going to play Sunday,' so even though it may not be an everyday thing, you're going to get playing time," Collins said. "When the decisions are going to be finalized in the end, somebody's got to be left standing. You've got to keep yourself ready."

For now, Davis is attempting to do so, looking at his Sunday start from a bench player's perspective.

"There are only so many starters in the Major Leagues, and there are a whole lot of bench players that have to do a job too," Davis said. "I've just got to take it in stride and try to help the team win from the bench."

Still, just because Collins named Duda the first-base starter earlier this week, does not mean Davis' playing time will suffer to any staggering extent. With a run of right-handed opposing pitchers on the schedule, Davis could see another start as soon as this week in Atlanta. And with three games in an American League park next weekend, he and Duda could both see their names in the same lineup card multiple times.

Harvey, Young head to Florida for rehab

Harvey throws for first time since Tommy John surgery

NEW YORK -- As the Mets packed their bags on Sunday in anticipation of their first road trip of the season, Chris Young and Matt Harvey each did likewise. Only their destination was different. While the Mets boarded a plane for Atlanta, Young and Harvey set a course south for Port St. Lucie, Fla.

For Harvey, the trip was his first of many back to Florida this summer. Harvey recently worked out an agreement allowing him to stay with the team in New York during homestands, but rehab in Port St. Lucie when the Mets are on the road. Once he is ready to ramp up his rehab from Tommy John surgery around mid-summer, Harvey will move to Florida full-time.

For Young, it was the start of a rehab program that he hopes will allow him to come off the disabled list on April 18, when he is first eligible. Young is nursing a strained right quadriceps muscle that has limited him to a single inning this season. He does not yet know when he will begin a running program, but expects to receive an updated itinerary Monday from the staff in Port St. Lucie.

Mets' difficulty scoring is striking vs. Reds

CIN@NYM: Niese fans four, holds Reds to two runs

NEW YORK -- Strikeouts are not the only issue with the Mets' offense, but the timing of their strikeouts ought not be overlooked. They struck out eight times in a 2-1 loss on Sunday, six in the first six innings against starter Alfonso Simon.

Four of the eight came in at-bats leading off innings, two with runners in scoring position. One other came with a runner on base. Five of the eight were by the first four batters in the order -- Eric Young, Daniel Murphy, David Wright (two) and Curtis Granderson.

A telling difference in the game: The Mets had runners on second and third with one out in the third after scoring their run. Their Nos. 2 and 3 hitters, Murphy and Wright, struck out. The Reds had the bases loaded and none out in the sixth, and their No. 3 hitter Joey Votto delivered a sacrifice fly.

Until pinch-hitter Lucas Duda had an eight-pitch at-bat in the eghth, the most pitches any Mets batter saw in one at-bat was seven -- by Jon Niese, who drew a walk in the third. Simon threw 79 pitches in completing his seven innings. The Mets saw six pitches in the fifth, one by Travis d'Arnaud, four Ruben Tejada and one by Niese.

The two runs the Reds scored in the sixth could have been linked to the limited rest afforded Niese in the innning. Niese and Terry Collins dismissed that notion. Niese said he was pleased with his stamina.

Worth noting

• Sunday was the Mets' first Bark in the Park of the season, giving fans the opportunity to walk their dogs around the warning track at Citi Field, before watching the game in the Pepsi Porch. As usual, the North Shore Animal League was on hand encouraging fans to adopt dogs.

• Right-hander Jacob deGrom continued the Mets' strong run of starting pitching at Triple-A Las Vegas on Saturday, striking out six over six innings of one-run ball. Through three games, Vegas starters deGrom, Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard have combined to produce a 1.50 ERA with 16 strikeouts and two walks.