WASHINGTON -- Despite some encouraging numbers on his Minor League rehab assignment, outfielder Mike Baxter is not close to a return from the disabled list.

Baxter is hitting .267 with three extra-base hits in 15 at-bats for Class A Advanced St. Lucie, but has appeared exclusively as a designated hitter. Because Baxter has not begun throwing, manager Terry Collins said, his return "is a ways out yet."

Sidelined since June 1 with a displaced right collarbone, which he suffered crashing against Citi Field's left-field wall to preserve Johan Santana's no-hitter, Baxter should slide back into a pinch-hitting role upon his return.

Though doctors initially expected him to miss six weeks, Baxter is already seven weeks into his recovery and rehab.

He was one of the league's best pinch-hitters prior to his injury, going 8-for-18 with five doubles in that role. Collins previously said Baxter will need at least 25-30 Minor League at-bats before he is ready to rejoin the Mets.

Collins stresses need for better situational hitting

WASHINGTON -- Two of the more troubling snapshots of the Mets' six-game losing streak have come out of promising situations.

Trailing by a run in the seventh inning Tuesday, the Mets put a runner on third base with no outs but could not score him. The next day, this time in a tie game, the Mets put their leadoff man on second but could not send him home.

"We've got to do a better job," manager Terry Collins said. "That's the age-old problem that every team in baseball has, and that's situational hitting. It's one of those things that everybody talks about in Spring Training.

"Everybody's got batting practices that are strictly designed to work on situational hitting where there's a thought process involved. Everybody's got it. Everybody has issues with it. And the teams that execute it are the teams that score all those add-on runs that make a big difference."

On the surface, the Mets would not seem to be overly susceptible to such troubles, given their roughly league-average strikeout rate. Rarely relying on home runs, the Mets built much of their early-season offensive success on two-strike, two-out hitting.

Perhaps it is coincidence, or perhaps the rest of the league is adapting. Collins said opposing pitchers have been more aggressive against his hitters in recent games, preventing the Mets from driving up pitch counts.

"We have seen a distinct difference here in the last week or so," Collins said, "where it seems like we're strike one all the time."

Worth noting

• With his two-run homer in the first inning on Thursday, David Wright continued to entrench himself among some heady company. Wright's 787 RBIs are the eighth most by any third baseman in history through his first nine big league seasons, 114 behind all-time leader Eddie Mathews.

George Brett and Chipper Jones share the all-time record among primary third basemen with 1,596 RBIs. Wright's 526 career extra-base hits also rank fifth most among those who played at least 51 percent of their games at third base through their first nine seasons (Mathews had 587).

• The Mets announced that Star Wars Night will return Monday, when they host the Nationals for a 7:10 p.m. ET game at Citi Field. Tickets are available at Mets.com/starwars and include a Mets/Darth Vader t-shirt and a $5 donation to Stand Up To Cancer, a movement dedicated to accelerating cancer research.

Fans are encouraged to dress up as their favorite Star Wars characters for a costume contest, with a grand prize of a Four-Day Pass to Star Wars Celebration next month in Orlando.