HOUSTON -- Catching ranks are thin on the Mets' roster. Mike Nickeas is ill, leaving Josh Thole as the only healthy backstop for Tuesday's game.

Manager Terry Collins checked the clubhouse for volunteers and came up with Mike Baxter, who caught in the Padres' organization in the 2008 Instructional League.

"I caught down there," said Baxter, who said he has a catcher's mitt, but doesn't have it with him on the road trip.

Beyond Tuesday, Collins plans to see how Nickeas feels.

"If he's not better, we've got to find somebody," said Collins, who would look to perhaps bring up a Minor Leaguer as early as Tuesday night.

Collins added that he's been pleased with how Baxter has looked at the plate in his rookie season.

"Mike's been swinging the bat real well, that's why I'm I hitting him where [he is]," Collins said. "The way he's been swinging [the bat] that if they pitch around Ike [Davis], he can do some damage."

Dickey laments what might have been

HOUSTON -- Starter R.A. Dickey will have other games. But the right-handed knuckleballer couldn't help but think of what might have been Monday night.

Dickey took a no-hitter into the sixth inning of Monday's 4-3 loss to the Astros and said he felt good enough to accomplish something special, or at least get his team into the latter innings.

"I thought it was going to be a 1-0 kind of game," said Dickey, who went six innings and got a no-decision. "I bent before [Astros starter Bud Norris] did. Fortunately we did get some runs off him and we had a chance to win the game late.

"But I had no business not going into the eighth or ninth with the stuff I had [Monday night]. It was just unfortunate that I gave up some runs and had to come out of the game, because I was only at [77] pitches and I felt fantastic."

Collins pleased with club's play in first month

HOUSTON -- Mets manager Terry Collins said he liked what he saw from his team in April. The club went 13-10 to start to season. Considering youth, injuries and now illness, it was a pretty good stretch.

"I'm very pleased with the first month of the season," Collins said. "With what we've gone through so far, we've had some our key guys banged up. We've had a couple of our guys that we expected to swing the bats that haven't and in the meantime some guys have picked up the load and carried us.

"We're sitting here right now, going into the month of May, in pretty good shape."

But the month of May will be trying. The Mets are 2-2 on their current six-game road trip and will play 14 of their next 21 games on the road. New York is 5-5 away from Citi Field this year, the same road record it held last year after 10 games.

Duda not in lineup; Cedeno progressing

HOUSTON -- Lucas Duda remained under the weather Tuesday. He was scratched from the Mets' starting lineup Monday, but came on late in the game for pinch-hit duties.

Ronny Cedeno is progressing. The Mets infielder was placed on the 15-day DL on April 23 with a left intercostal strain.

"He's doing some stuff," manager Terry Collins said. "Right now he's swinging [the bat] and fielding some ground balls. They think by the end of the week that he'll be back to 100 percent. So he should be back pretty soon."

Jason Bay, who did not make the road trip, is resting and could remain out of the lineup for more than two weeks with a fractured rib.

"My guess is it will be a little over two weeks," Collins said.

A little good news came from the bullpen, where Frank Francisco gave the all clear. Francisco was suffering from an upper hamstring issue.

"He's feeling a lot better," Collins said. "He told me [Monday] night that he was available. He'll be ready for today."

Worth noting

All went well Tuesday with Mike Pelfrey's surgery in Florida with Dr. James Andrews. The Mets reported no surprises. Pelfrey will miss the rest of the 2012 season.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis led all Major League rookies with a .325 batting average and 26 hits in April. He was also second with 11 runs scored, tied for third with two homers, and fourth with eight RBIs.

His average was also third-highest by a rookie in team history for the month of April. Including Nieuwenhuis' two runs Monday night, the Mets have scored 47 runs with two outs this year, second-most in the Majors.