The Mets' explanation to MLB, according to Minaya, involved the unavailability of three regulars -- Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Luis Castillo. Each was deemed to be recovering from offseason surgery or late-season injury and unready to play.
Delgado, however, started against the University of Michigan on Tuesday and started the Mets' game against the Cardinals on Thursday, as did fellow regulars Jose Reyes, David Wright, Moises Alou, Brian Schneider and Church.
When asked why the Mets couldn't have sent any three from among Reyes, Wright, Alou and Schneider to satisfy the four-man rule, Minaya noted that all had played against Michigan.
"I'm not going to have them play three days in a row," Minaya said.
Minaya also noted that having higher-profile players available for home exhibition games -- the Mets play in Port St. Lucie on Friday and Saturday -- is a consideration.
"I'm sure going to have my big guys play at home," he said.
Minaya didn't mention the effect of games televised, but that generally is a factor weighed in the decision of which players play when. The Friday and Saturday games are to be televised.
The Mets intend to discuss the situation and to determine whether starting four regulars each game can be accomplished regularly, given their circumstances.
Their projected starting lineup works against them in some ways. They are likely to have eight regulars, so they have only eight players who can satisfy the rule. A regular is defined by the league office as a player who played regularly last season or who has a "reasonable" chance to play regularly in 2008.
The MLB office usually won't quibble if a player such as Castro or Endy Chavez is included as a regular, but even Chavez wasn't available to play on Tuesday.
The four-man rule is an issue with several clubs almost every spring, usually early in the exhibition-game schedule and more often in Florida than in Arizona, because teams in Florida often travel long distances -- not the case in Arizona -- and are not inclined to have veteran players make the longer trips.
All 30 clubs were reminded of the four-man rule this week in two memos from MLB.