JUPITER, Fla. -- Jerry Manuel and Noah Webster don't quite see eye to eye on this one. Indeed, Manuel's sense of the word in question may be quite different from what most other folks think. So it was Saturday afternoon minutes after the Mets had fallen victim to a final-pitch home run struck by one of their alums, Ruben Gotay.
The homer Gotay crushed against Kiko Calero was necessary -- in fact, the Cardinals batting in ninth inning was necessary only because Ike Davis had tied the score in the previous half inning with a two-out solo shot that delighted Manuel, unsettled Cardinals reliever Jason Motte and irritated those with early evening plans.
So pleased was the Mets' manager by what Davis had done that he changed the rookie's Sunday assignment. Initially, Davis was scheduled to play the Mets' afternoon home game against the University of Michigan, Fred Wilpon's alma mater. But that changed after Davis changed the direction of Motte's pitch and the crowd flow.
"I think I'll take him with me to Kissimmee, [Fla.]," Manuel said, "so he can face Roy Oswalt. That'll be his reward."
Makes you wonder what reward awaits Calero.
Of course, little that happens on an exhibition game field, vis-a-vis winning and losing, matters all that much to any manager. Davis had zero chance to be part of the Mets' Opening Day roster before their 6-5 loss Saturday, and his chances didn't improve because of his third Spring Training home run. The demonstration of 11th-hour power was merely one more check in the "good stuff" column in the minds of Manuel, Omar Minaya and the other roster sculptors.
Davis enjoyed it, though. He hadn't played in five days, and hadn't started on Saturday against Adam Wainwright. Time and some degree of anxiety had created a coating of rust in the interim.
"I made myself [look] rusty by swinging at the first pitch [in his first at-bat]," Davis said.
He grounded out in his first at-bat, against right-hander Blake Hawksworth, in the seventh. But he hit a 3-1 pitch over the wall in left-center field in the ninth after the Mets had scored twice against Motte on a sacrifice fly by Frank Catalanotto and a passed ball.
And now Davis gets to face -- has to face? -- Oswalt, as nasty as any pitcher in Florida or Arizona.
"That is a reward," Davis said, emphasizing the verb and relishing the challenge.
Davis did receive a reward of a different kind, though, too. And it wasn't consistent with Mr. Webster's definition, either. It came before the game. After a chat with a famous Mets fan, Davis received an autographed baseball. "To Ike," was the inscription, "Jerry Seinfeld."
"I like it," Davis said.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.