NEW YORK -- Nobody could have predicted what R.A. Dickey has accomplished in 2012, not even Mets manager Terry Collins.
But the skipper said Dickey's success hasn't put pressure on the tail end of the rotation, or even redefined what should be expected from a starter on his ballclub.
"I don't think it's putting pressure on them, I think it's competition," Collins said. "I think they're trying to do the same thing he's doing."
Overall, Mets starters are 27-17 with a 3.51 ERA entering Wednesday -- which ranked third in the Majors behind only Washington (3.06) and the Dodgers (3.15). The rotation is anchored by Dickey and Johan Santana, but Collins said that starters Dillon Gee and Jon Niese have embraced the competition and aren't feeling any heat.
Entering Wednesday's start against the Orioles, Gee held a 4.43 ERA, but had delivered six consecutive quality starts. Niese's ERA stood at 3.82, and he's been a reliable starter for the Mets in 2012.
"You want to step up and do the same thing and be a whole part of it," Collins said. "The starting pitching on this team is very credible, and it has been. I think our guys have taken that competition and run with it and done a good job."
Swinging hot bat, Valdespin gets another start
NEW YORK -- Jordany Valdespin made his third consecutive start on Wednesday, and according to Mets manager Terry Collins, there was only one reason why.
"Right now, with him swinging the bat the way he is, he's going to be in the lineup," Collins said.
Valdespin tallied two hits in each of the Mets' first two games against Baltimore, and added another in Wednesday's 4-3 win when he beat out a Brian Roberts throw for an infield single. He is hitting .321 (9-for-28) with three doubles, one triple and eight RBIs in his last nine games.
"I came to Spring Training and everybody knew I could play here," Valdespin said. "So the only thing I needed to do was wait for my time and my opportunity. So they've given me the time and given me the challenge to play every day, so all I need to do is play hard every day."
But Valdespin's opportunities have also come with inconsistency in the field. The natural second baseman started there on Monday in place of a struggling Daniel Murphy, but started in left field on Tuesday so Murphy could man his regular post.
But as Murphy continues to struggle at the plate -- he is 2-for-20 in his last five games -- Valdespin has been Collins' go-to guy.
"He's gotten big hits, he's come through when we've got guys standing at second base," Collins said. "If we're going to win, we've got to drive those runs in, because as we're waiting for our power to really break out, he's been a guy that's come through."
Valdespin initially garnered some attention for taking heathy hacks at the ball when at the plate, but over the last few games has shifted his attention to simply "putting the ball in play." The approach has seemingly worked, but Collins said that at this stage in Valdespin's career, it's difficult to make permanent adjustments.
"As you grow and mature you'll always make some adjustments, but as of right now that's who he is," Collins said. "He's going to be aggressive, he's going to take a big swing."
The skipper said he'll continue to operate on a day-to-day basis and will continue to try some different lineups -- Vinny Rottino got the nod in left field on Wednesday -- but overall has been impressed by Valdespin's play.
"He believes in what he can do," Collins said. "It's not a huge ego thing, he's just confident that he's a good player and there's nothing wrong with that. Confidence is how you succeed in this game, and the more he plays and the more he grows maturity-wise, he's got a chance to be a real good player here."
Nursing tight hamstring, Duda doesn't start
NEW YORK -- Lucas Duda was out of the Mets' lineup on Wednesday with a tight hamstring, according to manager Terry Collins.
Collins said that the injury was minor, and that sitting him was only a precautionary measure. With an off-day on Thursday and temperatures looming in the 90s on Wednesday, Collins said the decision to give Duda the night off was the "smart" move.
"When it's going to be 99 [degrees], I don't want him to get dehydrated and have that thing cramp up," he said. "But he can play, he's able to play."
Scott Hairston started in right field on Wednesday, with Vinny Rottino in left.
Duda singled in the fourth inning of Tuesday night's game before jacking a two-run home run in the sixth. He has reached base safely in 22 straight games -- a career high -- and has at least one hit in all but three of his last 19 games.
Mets ring in summer with special ticket offer
NEW YORK -- The Mets announced that a limited number of Field Level seats (priced at $115) for Friday and Sunday night's Subway Series games at Citi Field will be sold for $94 -- the official game-time temperature of Wednesday night's game against the Orioles.
Tickets went on sale at 7:15 p.m. ET on Wednesday and are available at mets.com. Quantities for both games are limited.
The Subway Series at Citi Field starts Friday at 7:10 p.m., followed by a 7:15 p.m. start Saturday and 8:05 p.m. start Sunday. Tickets for all three games are available at mets.com.
Ruben Tejada was expected to start for Triple-A Buffalo on Wednesday night after restarting his rehab assignment with Class A St. Lucie on Monday. In two games with St. Lucie, Tejada was 1-for-9, but played nine innings at shortstop on Tuesday.
Manager Terry Collins said no further information was available Wednesday on Jason Bay, who suffered his second career concussion after crashing into the left-field wall Friday.
Adam Rosenbloom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.