SAN DIEGO -- The clock ticks closer to the trade deadline for two sellers, the San Diego Padres and New York Mets.
The teams square off in the third game of a four-game set on Wednesday night at Petco Park, with the Mets looking for their third straight win over the Padres.
However, each squad takes the field with an eye on the calendar.
How else to explain the Mets trotting out two-time All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera at third base?
Cabrera is expected to be on the hot corner when the Mets face Jhoulys Chacin (9-7, 4.26 ERA) on Wednesday.
With a dearth of third basemen on the market, the Mets have been showcasing Cabrera at third since Saturday.
"There are a lot of rumors of teams that are looking for third basemen," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "So I told him, 'I'm going to put you over there and now go play.' And he's played great. He's swung the bat well. I think he is really focused to show his wares."
Players must go to great lengths not to get spinning on the rumor mill. Collins said sometimes that chatter can motivate a player.
Then again, he has seen so many trade deals go up in flames that he encourages players to stay focused.
"You just got to go out and play the game the way it is supposed to be played, and whatever happens at the end happens," Collins said. "The only thing you control is how you play, and that is how you get paid.
"The more you fail, the less people talk about you. And if you play good, everyone wants you."
Mets outfielder Lucas Duda is another potential piece the scouts behind the plate will be tracking. Duda has shown some life since the All-Star break.
"He's streaky, and when he gets streaky, he carries you," Collins said. "He can carry a team, and we have seen it from all the years he's been here."
Southpaw Steve Matz, who returned last month from elbow surgery, will take the mound Wednesday for the Mets. He has dropped three of his past four outings, and he has allowed 15 runs in 10 1/3 innings for a 13.06 ERA in his past three starts.
"He pitched so well his first three outings, and as we all know, sometimes it takes a toll," Collins said. "He just has to go back to making better pitches. His stuff is fine. He just has to command his fastball a little better. It's been getting too much of the plate."
Matz is 1-0 in his lone outing against the Padres, when he worked 7 1/3 innings of one-hit ball last August.
San Diego will counter with Chacin. He was originally set to go on Tuesday, but he was pushed back a day due to a sore back. Padres manager Andy Green said Chacin was "adamant" that he could start Tuesday, but the Padres didn't push it.
Chacin has had a rough go against the Mets in his career, amassing a 1-5 record with a 6.50 ERA.
In his last outing, though, he beat the San Francisco Giants for the third time this season to go to 4-1 at AT&T Park. Giants manager Bruce Bochy compared him to injured Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw after Chacin allowed two runs on four hits over six innings on Thursday.
"I think next to Kershaw," Bochy said, "I don't know who's tougher on us."
Chacin told the San Diego Union-Tribune, "I'm healthy, and my shoulder was feeling good. I just need to make pitches."