NEW YORK -- When Bobby Abreu signed a Minor League contract with the Mets at the end of March, then got the callup to the bigs three weeks later, his role was clear -- regular pinch-hitter, occasional outfielder and mentor to his younger teammates -- especially given that he lockers next to Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada.
Abreu, however, has played his way into a much larger role, especially this week with fellow corner outfielder Curtis Granderson nursing a tight left calf. He found himself batting cleanup in the Mets' lineup Saturday afternoon against the Padres, Abreu's fourth straight start and second consecutive appearance in the four-hole. It's the first time he's started four games in a row since May 2012.
Like many of his teammates on Saturday, Abreu went hitless against the Padres in a 5-0 loss. He did manage to reach base on a walk against rookie hurler Jesse Hahn.
But the hitless game came after Abreu's 4-for-4 Friday night -- manager Terry Collins hardly had a choice but to ride his veteran. On the season, Abreu is batting .328/.403/.508 against right-handers, with nine walks compared to six strikeouts. Collins admitted Friday that Abreu is essentially forcing his way into the lineup, particularly when the Mets face righties.
But the splits aren't all that bad. Abreu has managed a .273 average (3-for-11) against southpaws this season, including an RBI base knock Friday against left-hander Troy Patton.
"One of the things you see from Bobby -- and I'll go back to when they brought the lefty in to face him -- what did he do?" Collins said. "He worked to the middle of the field. We've talked about it and talked about it and talked about it. He worked the middle of the field, he hit a ground ball through a drawn-in infield that turns out to be a big hit. That's the thing I hope our young players watch."
Despite Abreu's .373/.424/.569 slash line as a starter, he can't play every day. He is 40, after all, and Collins is well aware of the importance of monitoring Abreu's playing time. The two have an understanding: Collins will write his name in the lineup, but if it starts to take a toll on Abreu, he needs to say so.
"I know leg injuries," Collins said. "If they come to him, they're going to be an issue. He told me he'd be honest, if he started to get tired or his legs started to get a little run down, he'd say something."
Abreu, for his part, says he feels fine.
"I take care of myself," Abreu said. "No doubt we have some young guys that have to play every day, and I know my job over here is to be a pinch-hitter and once in a while in the outfield. Any time they need me there, I'm always going to be ready."
Harvey reunites with high school teammate Hahn
NEW YORK -- There wasn't a whole lot of information available about the Padres' spot-starter, Jesse Hahn, on Saturday given that it was only his second Major League start. One of the Mets, however, might've been able to give a quick -- if outdated -- scouting report.
Matt Harvey was teammates with Hahn at Fitch Senior High in Groton, Conn., in the middle of last decade. Hahn is from Groton, while Harvey is from nearby Mystic. Both places are about a two-hour drive from Citi Field.
"Any time a small town like ours has this much success in sports, it's always awesome to see," Harvey said. "I know he's excited and all of Mystic and Groton are excited, and I'm sure they're all probably making the trip down."
Harvey and Hahn played baseball and basketball -- they were both shooting guards, according to Harvey -- together for the Falcons, and later suited up against each other in college when Harvey went to the University of North Carolina and Hahn attended Virginia Tech. Harvey got the best of Hahn both times they matched up.
To see an old high school teammate across the diamond is a bit surreal for Harvey.
"Seventeen, 18 years old, that's all you think about, really -- playing Major League Baseball," Harvey said. "That was obviously always in both of our minds."
• The various tight body parts bothering Curtis Granderson (left calf) and Jenrry Mejia (back) limited their involvement for a third day Saturday.
Both took part in pregame warmups, and neither appeared to be held back physically. Mejia threw off flat ground, while Granderson went through a series of stretches and running exercises, including forward and backward jogs and one drill that saw him practice tracking down imaginary fly balls. Granderson pinch-hit on Saturday, but popped out.
Granderson said after the Mets' 5-0 loss to the Padres that he expected to be available Sunday.
• Travis d'Arnaud watch: In five games since his demotion to Triple-A Las Vegas, the catcher is hitting .421 (8-for-19) with a .522 on-base percentage, three homers and a double.
Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.