June 2006 Archives

June 29, 2006

Trainer's Room

A few wrinkles for tonight's lineup. Carlos Delgado is bothered by a sore right rib cage, so Julio Franco is starting at first base. David Wright is the DH, which means Chris Woodward is at third, and Lastings Milledge moves from the shadow of the Green Monster to Fenway's more spacious rightfield. Xavier Nady still is nursing his bruised right wrist, so Endy Chavez is in left.

Woe is Pedro?

Anyone else out there worried about Pedro Martinez yet? In five starts this month, Martinez is 2-3 with a 6.23 ERA, and his pitch counts have been rising at an alarming rate. Martinez doesn't deny that he's been affected by lingering hip and toe problems. But is the situation only going to get worse? For now, the Mets insist Martinez is fine to take his turn every fifth day.

"Pedro makes no excuses when he goes to the mound," manager Willie Randolph said after Wednesday's 10-2 thrashing by the Red Sox. "To me, it’s just a matter of making pitches and he’s in a little bit of a funk where he’s just maybe not hitting his location like he should. I’m sure he’s not 100 percent, but he’s just not been as consistent with his location as he has in the past."

Martinez has been watching video with his personal pitching guru Guy Conti -- officially known as the Mets bullpen coach -- but only time will tell if his recent slump is mechanical or merely an indication of him wearing down a little early this season. If Martinez gets whacked around by the Pirates next week, sound the alarm.

June 28, 2006

Pre-Pedro

Countdown to Pedro's start at Fenway Park ... 65 minutes ...

Xavier Nady is a no-go tonight because of his bruised right wrist. Incredibly, Jose Reyes is fine after Tuesday's brutal collision with Sox catcher Jason Varitek. Paul Lo Duca is the unlikely DH tonight because his bruised thumb continues to be a problem for him behind the plate. Here's how the lineup shakes out:

Jose Reyes ... SS
Paul Lo Duca ... DH
Carlos Beltran .. CF
Carlos Delgado .. 1B
David Wright .. 3B
Jose Valentin .. 2B
Endy Chavez .. RF
Ramon Castro .. C
Lastings Milledge .. LF

Of course, Martinez is on the mound.

Back to School

The education of Lastings Milledge continued Tuesday night when he learned firsthand that Fenway's Green Monster is no joke. Milledge's misplay of Manny Ramirez's fly ball into a two-run double was a pivotal moment in the game and the Mets never recovered. While Milledge is obvously talented, and has helped the Mets during his unexpected stay in the majors, do you think he should return to Triple-A Norfolk for more grooming when Cliff Floyd returns? Or should the Mets find a way to keep him on the roster and demote someone else?

June 27, 2006

Fenway still loves Pedro

Red Sox Nation may have turned on Johnny Damon, but today's reception for Pedro Martinez here at Fenway Park suggests it will be a lovefest when he takes the mound tomorrow night. Pedro was cheered from the moment he emerged from the Red Sox dugout -- yep, he took his former route to the field -- and plenty of Sox fans wore their old No. 45 jerseys to the game. There was not a single boo heard the entire time Martinez strolled around his former home during batting practice.

In other news, Duaner Sanchez (pinched nerve) should be available in the bullpen tonight and Paul Lo Duca (bruised thumb) is back in the lineup after sitting Sunday.

June 25, 2006

A tough loss

No, I'm not talking about the Mets. They never seem to lose these days. Just wanted to take a minute to wish a good friend and outstanding (former) teammate Jon Heyman the best of luck as he moves on to Sports Illustrated. Anyone who ever read a word about baseball in New York is familiar with the byline, and the exclusive stories he broke in the pages of Newsday -- and on the web site -- over his 15-plus years are too numerous to list in this space. Best wishes.

June 24, 2006

Sanchez OK

The Mets just announced that an MRI revealed Duaner Sanchez has a "mild pinched nerve" in his neck. He will rejoin the team tonight in Toronto and is day-to-day.

No Homer for Wright

On a lighter note, David Wright's dog, Homer, has been sent to Virginia to live with his parents. Apparently, the demands of a 23-year-old budding superstar were a little too time consuming and Wright thought the boxer pup would be happier roaming the lawns of a suburban neighborhood than the sidewalks of the concrete jungle. Wright's mom even adopted a German Shephard as a playmate for Homer. The dog's name? Shea.

Waiting on Duaner

The good news is that Duaner Sanchez, sent back to New York this morning for more tests on his shoulder, finally found the doctor's office today after driving around the Upper East Side of Manhattan looking for the Hospital for Special Surgery. FYI, it's at 70th Street and York Ave.

The bad news is that there's no word on his condition yet. Sanchez said he felt a "shock" after throwing his second pitch to open the eighth inning Friday night and he immediately took himself out of the game. It was a tingling sensation that traveled from his neck to the fingertips of his right hand, but by late Friday, the strange feeling was gone.

Both David Cone and Felix Heredia expressed similar discomfort before they were diagnosed with aneurysms, but Sanchez said he felt fine after coming out of the game. In those other cases, Cone and Heredia had persistent numbness in their fingers and a cold sensation that did not go away.

In other news, Carlos Beltran will DH this afternoon against the Blue Jays, with Endy Chavez in center.
Stay tuned for more Sanchez updates later.

June 23, 2006

North of the Border

SkyDome was considered an architectural marvel when it first opened in 1989. Seventeen years later, the building now known as the Rogers Centre is definitely showing its age. As strange as it is to see artificial turf, the rug the Mets are forced to play on this weekend looks like somebody borrowed the shag carpeting from That 70s Show. Even the warning track is shaggy, although it is rust-colored to make it look more like actual dirt.

Here's another twist to this weekend series in Toronto -- and the next two in Boston and the Bronx as well. As per American League rules, the Mets will be using a DH, and manager Willie Randolph originally planned to use Carlos Delgado in that spot tonight. But after the lineup card was posted, Delgado told Randolph he would rather play the field, and Julio Franco was moved from first base to DH instead.

"I've got to keep my big guy happy," Randolph said.

June 22, 2006

Next Stop: The AL East


Willie Randolph is hardly a clone of Joe Torre in terms of personality – Torre is much more talkative – but he shares one thing in common with the Yankees' manager, for whom he coached under from 1996-2004. They both have little use for interleague play.

Randolph was peppered with pre-game questions Thursday about the upcoming stretch in which the Mets play nine interleague games in AL ballparks against the best of the AL East – three at Toronto, three at Boston and three at Yankee Stadium.

"Sometimes you draw the short straw with the schedule. It's not totally fair, but you have to live with it," Randolph said. "That's one of the reasons why I don't like interleague play."

This blogger doesn't like it either, primarily because the Yanks and Mets play six times which spoils the novelty of a possible World Series showdown. Three Subway Series games a year at alternating sites would be enough, and still make an October meeting something special. But the commissioner hasn't asked for my input.

At least the Mets get to sample the best the AL East has to offer and give us a chance to compare them to the division and the league most experts say is superior. Maybe there's even a World Series preview in there somewhere.

June 21, 2006

Fly Eagles Fly

What in the name of Joe Piscarcik was Eagles coach Andy Reid doing in the Mets clubhouse before tonight's game against the Reds? Mets PR guru Jay Horwitz is a huge Giants fan, so he must have lost a bet to allow anyone from the Eagles -- let alone the coach -- entrance to the clubhouse.

Reid wasn't the only VIP milling around the manager's office, either. Actor Tim Robbins stopped in to shake hands with Willie Randolph and introduce himself to Billy Wagner as well. That's what happens when your team is 44-26 and leads the NL East by 9 1/2 games. Shea evidently is becoming a trendy place for the stars to hang out again.

In on-field news, Endy Chavez started in leftfield against the Reds and Cliff Floyd (ankle) looks iffy for this weekend in Toronto.

June 20, 2006

Leading Man Still Learning His Lines

Rarely has manager Willie Randolph showed as much animation, enthusiasm and honesty as he did in his pre-game press conferences before Tuesday night's game. The subject was the evolution of Jose Reyes as a leadoff batter and clearly it's a topic Randolph embraces. "I can see him evolving and getting better, but he's got a long way to go."

Randolph has emphasized to Reyes that he needs to be more patient at the plate while also maintaining his aggressiveness when attacking fastballs. "It's hard. He's young and he's not used to doing some of the things I want him to do," Randolph said. "Young guys are impatient."

When asked if he thought Reyes could ever be as patient a hitter as Randolph was, the manager said with candor, "Knowing Jose the way I do, he might never be that way." But Randolph said he thought Reyes could make up for not having as many walks as he'd like his leadoff batter to get by "becoming a better hitter and a better bunter."

Randolph's conclusion: "When he gets it right, he's going to be a monster."

The monster is stirring. Reyes led off his second straight game with a double.


June 19, 2006

MVP: Multiple Valuable Players

Those "M-V-P" chants heard at Shea Stadium whenever David Wright delivers – and that's becoming a daily occurrence -- represent not only encouragement and joy. They represent wishful thinking. Most Valuable Players are like no-hitters in the history of the Mets: They don't exist. The next MVP winner for the Mets will be their first.
Could it be Wright, who entered the series against the Reds with a .336 average, 15 homers and 55 RBIs? Not if you ask the Mets' third baseman. "It's still way too early, but I think Carlos [Beltran] is a legit MVP candidate. The position he plays [centerfield], his power, his speed, the defense he plays. He'll put up great numbers." Beltran's numbers are outstanding – 18 homers, 53 RBIs, .286 entering Monday's game – and his defense has been nearly flawless.
Wright's offensive numbers are better, and that's usually what determines the MVP. But forget about a debate for now. Wright is right. It's too early. And if Albert Pujols comes back healthy and leads the Cardinals to the NL Central title, all debates might be moot. But isn't it refreshing that we're talking about not one but two genuine MVP candidates for the Mets?

June 18, 2006

Another Tom Terrific

Tom Glavine became the National League's first 10-game winner yesterday and Willie Randolph said the obvious afterwards. "He's been outstanding all year. He's one of my big boys. He should go to the All-Star Game." Glavine's a lock and, in fact, the Mets could lock in several positions for the July 11th game in Pittsburgh. Centerfielder Carlos Beltran, first baseman Carlos Delgado, third baseman David Wright starter Pedro Martinez and reliever Billy Wagner all are worthy All-Star choices. Is six too many? Hardly. The Mets have the best record in the NL so if they have the most All-Stars, what's wrong with that? By the way, Glavine continued to move up on the all-time. His 285th victory yesterday moved him one ahead of Ferguson Jenkins into 26th place and his six strikeouts gave him 2,421, surpassing Luis Tiant for 34th place. "It's supposed to be a young man's game, so this is very satisfying," Glavine said. Especially after those first two losing seasons as a Met when many critics said that the Braves knew what they were doing when they let Glavine go as a free agent. Think he wouldn't fit nicely into the Atlanta rotation now?

June 17, 2006

Corner Kicks and Fungo Bats

The Italy-USA World Cup soccer game was a big deal at Shea Stadium on Saturday. Paul LoDuca, whose grandparents were from Italy, said he was rooting for the U.S. but also had strong feelings for Italy, so a tie was the perfect outcome for the Mets' catcher. During batting practice, the live telecast of the soccer game was broadcast on the scoreboard's giant screen. It was also on one of two flat screen TVs in the Mets' clubhouse before BP. What was on the other screen? The Yankees-Nationals game. When the Mets left the clubhouse for pre-game stretching and batting practice, the Yankees led 9-2. Wonder how the Mets would have reacted if they had been watching as the Yankees blew the game to Washington, 11-9. By the time the Mets returned to the clubhouse after BP, the Yankees' game and the World Cup contest were over and the TVs were tuned to the U.S. Open at Winged Foot.

June 16, 2006

There's Joy in Metville


After one of the greatest road trips in team history, you'd think the home clubhouse at Shea Stadium would be a veritable funhouse. That was the case Friday night, but the truth is, it wasn't much different than it has been all season. This really is the Fun Bunch.
Jose Reyes and David Wright are always smiling; Pedro Martinez is always clowning. Tom Glavine and Billy Wagner were their usual chatty selves and the Carlos's, Delgado and Beltran, were quietly all business. The TVs were tuned to college baseball and a replay of Thursday's Mets game at Philadelphia, less raucous than usual because there wasn't a movie of dubious taste playing on the flat screen.
Chemistry may be an overrated ingredient, but it certainly doesn't hurt. The Mets' have been getting in 'A' in chemistry all season, which is fitting since they've had their 'A' game going most of the time.

June 15, 2006

Rookie Mistake(s)

The morning after Lastings Milledge was lectured by manager Willie Randolph for "spectating" on Wednesday night, the rookie outfielder was the last Mets player to arrive in the clubhouse, rolling in at 11:55 -- exactly 70 minutes before the game's first pitch. He wasn't in the lineup -- Elli Marrero was playing left -- but Randolph said the switch was not for disciplinary reasons. Just a chance to get Marrero's "feet wet." Randolph said Milledge getting thrown out at home when he should have scored was a rookie mistake -- he looked back at the ball and slowed up, then realized too late he was in trouble.

"I think the kid knew he messed up," Randolph said.

There was no reporting time posted yesterday, and the Mets didn't take batting practice. But the team bus left the hotel at 10:45 a.m. and Milledge apparently was not on board. It's also probably a good idea for rookies to beat Pedro Martinez to the ballpark. Martinez usually is the last to arrive, but he was in the clubhouse an hour before MIlledge.

June 14, 2006

Delay over

9:25 start time ... Good news for the Mets .. 7-2 lead still intact and the forecast for the rest of the night looks clear. Darren Oliver is taking over for Orlando Hernandez, who allowed four hits and a home run to Jimmy Rollins in three-plus innings.

Deja Vu

Guess what? It's raining again in Philadelphia, just like it was back on May 11, when the Mets suffered a rain-shortened 4 1/2 inning loss to the Phillies. This time, however, the Mets are in danger of having their 7-2 lead wiped out because play was halted in the bottom of the fourth. The situation: Aaron Rowand on first base and a 1-0 count to David Dellucci. The tarp remains on the field at 8:46 p.m. Stay tuned ...

Wright stuff

With a nod to ESPN, is there a player with more Web Gems on the Mets than David Wright? I don't think so. Wright recieved top honors for Tuesday's amazing grab of Pat Burrell's sizzling one-hopper, but was relegated to No. 2 on SportsCenter's top 10 plays. Twins rookie Jason Kubel was No. 1 for the walkoff grand slam that beat the Red Sox, but I still think Wright got robbed.

The funny thing about Wright is that the tougher the play, the better he looks. Even he admits that the routine grounder is more of a challenge becase of the extra time to think about what's in front of him rather than relying on instinct and pure athletic ability. Either way, Wright continues to improve defensively, with more Web Gems sure to be on the way.

June 13, 2006

Floyd still a no-go

Cliff Floyd came out early to test his sprained left ankle yesterday afternoon and decided he still was too sore to play. Floyd tried to run the bases twice, the second time with the ankle heavily taped, and told manager Willie Randolph to keep him out the starting lineup.

"I just don’t feel comfortable going out there and ruining my team’s chances of winning the game because I can’t catch a ball or I can’t get to a base," Floyd said. "Keeping it real with y’all and keeping it real with myself, I’m better off not going out there and hurting the team."

As a result, Endy Chavez was back in rightfield, Lastings Milledge in left.

June 12, 2006

The Endy Shuffle

Could Endy Chavez force Lastings Milledge to the bench Tuesday when Cliff Floyd returns from his sprained ankle? Manager Willie Randolph suggested before Sunday's game that it was a possibility and Chavez built a strong case to stay in the lineup by going 2-for-4 with a double, two walks and four runs scored. He also changed the course of the game by cutting down Craig Counsell at the plate on Chad Tracy's fly ball to rightfield to end the first inning.

Yes, it's safe to say that Willie loves Endy, but there's not much to rely on in terms of matchups against the Phillies Ryan Madson. Chavez is 0-for-4 against him with one strikeout and Milledge has never faced him. Against RHP,Chavez is hitting .288 (30-for-104) while Milledge is batting .250 (10-for-40).

More Mets Moves ...

METS REINSTATE JOHN MAINE FROM DISABLED LIST

The New York Mets today recalled righthanded pitcher John Maine from his Minor League Rehabilitation Assignment, reinstated him from the 15-Day Disabled List, and optioned him to Norfolk (AAA).

Maine went 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in four rehabilitation starts, one with St. Lucie (A) of the Florida State League and three with Norfolk (AAA) of the International League. In 21.0 innings, he permitted 21 hits, nine runs, earned, with seven walks and 23 strikeouts.

Before being placed on the 15-Day Disabled List with inflammation in his right middle finger, Maine made one start against Washington at Shea on May 2nd. Maine suffered the loss, pitching 5.1 innings, allowing six hits, four runs, earned, with two walks and six strikeouts in a 6-2 defeat.

Prior to his call-up, Maine was 1-3 with a 2.63 ERA over four starts for Norfolk. In 24.0 innings, he surrendered 21 hits, 10 runs, seven earned, with five walks and 18 strikeouts.


METS SIGN DRAFT PICKS

The New York Mets announced today that they have signed 17 of their 49 draft picks from the 2006 First Year Player Draft, including fourth round selection righthanded pitcher John Holdzkom from Salt Lake Community College (UT), and righthanded pitcher Stephen Holmes, the club’s fifth round selection from the University of Rhode Island.

New York also signed their seventh round pick outfielder Daniel Stegall from Greenwood High School (AR), righthanded pitcher Nathan Hedrick, the eighth round pick from Barton County Community College (AR), the 13th round selection infielder Daniel Murphy from Jacksonville University (FL), lefthanded pitcher Duane Privett, the club’s 14th round pick from the College of Southern Idaho, the 16th round pick righthanded pitcher Tobi Stoner from Davis and Elkins College (WV), catcher Stephen Puhl, the 17th round selection from St. Edward’s University (TX), a 23rd round selection righthanded pitcher Nicholas Waechter from Western Oregon University, infielder Valentin Ramos, the 24th round pick from Sallisaw High School (OK), righthanded pitcher Steven Cheney, the 25th round pick out of Gulf Coast Community College (FL), the 28th round selection outfielder Will Bashelor from Dartmouth College (NH), infielder Jacob Eigsti, the club’s 29th round pick from Indiana State University, outfielder Jeremy Hambrice, the 31st round selection out of Southern Arkansas University, the 34th round pick infielder Jeffery Voyles from the University of Texas-San Antonio, the 39th round pick outfielder Donald Green from Texas Southern University and righthanded pitcher Kyle Johnson, the club’s 46th round selection from Chapman University (CA).

Privett, Cheney and Hambrice will be assigned to Kingsport (R) of the Appalachian League. Holmes, Murphy, Stoner, Puhl, Waechter, Bashelor and Eigsti will report to Brooklyn (A) of the New York-Penn League. Holdzkom, Stegall, Hedrick, Ramos, Voyles, Green and Johnson will join the rookie-level Gulf Coast Mets.

June 11, 2006

At the movies

Hard to believe the Mets skipped batting practice before dismantling the Diamondbacks today. What did they do instead of taking their hacks on the field? A handful of players sat on the clubhouse couch and took in a double-feature of "The Longest Yard" -- the Adam Sandler remake, of course -- and "I, Robot," the Will Smith sci-fi thriller.

I guess BP is overrated. The Mets led, 3-0, after the first inning, 7-0 after four and 13-0 after five. They had 13 hits, but no home runs, and even Pedro Martinez singled and scored as the Mets batted around in the fifth.

June 10, 2006

Mr. Versatile?

Maybe the Mets got Eli Marrero confused with someone else on the Rockies. In announcing the Kaz Matsui trade, team officials raved about Marrero's versatiliy, citing the fact that he could play a number of different positions. But once Marrero arrived today, he sounded like a catcher that moonlights in the outfield. As for first base?

"I'm not a Gold Glove," Marrero said. "But I can hold my own over there."

Marrero did seem a little surprised, however, that manager Willie Randolph asked him to spend some time over at third, a positon he's clearly unfamiliar with.

"I guess I’d better go out and take some ground ball," Marrero said. "He told me Julio Franco’s over there at first base, so he’ll use him first. I’ll start taking ground balls somewhere else.


As for his experience at the hot corner, Marrero responded, "Like zero. But how hard can it be? Catch the ball and throw to first before the guy gets there."

Hey, you have to give this guy some early points for having an open mind, at the very least.



June 9, 2006

Flashback Friday

With Kaz Matsui on his way to Colorado, let's take a look back to how things were supposed to be. Here's a reprint of my story on Kaz Matsui's midtown unveiling that appeared in the Dec. 11, 2003 edition of Newsday.
Even the best-laid plans ... Enjoy.

BY DAVID LENNON
STAFF WRITER

When Kazuo Matsui held up his black Mets jersey yesterday, it ignited a lightning storm of flashes, the kind of blinding adoration New York usually reserves for the likes of Britney Spears or even Derek Jeter, not for a baseball club struggling for credibility. But in reaching across the Pacific to sign the Japanese shortstop, the Mets finally made their presence felt this offseason, and unveiling Matsui in midtown Manhattan was perhaps the first step toward shaking off the futility of consecutive last-place finishes.

As first steps go, this was a big deal. In a hotel ballroom stuffed with hundreds of reporters, many of them Japanese, Matsui, 28, officially was welcomed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, just as the Yankees' Hideki Matsui (no relation) was when his signing was announced a year earlier. Bloomberg played it straight down the middle, hoping for another Subway Series, but the flame-haired shortstop was not bashful in his ambition, boldly showing off a 1986 World Series ring he borrowed from a Mets executive during lunch.

"I'm going to do my best to bring another one to this city for the New York Mets," Matsui said through interpreter George Rose.

The Mets no doubt appreciated his enthusiasm, but don't expect any World Series predictions from team officials anytime soon. It was not an easy decision to green-light Matsui's three-year, $20.1-million contract by shifting Jose Reyes from shortstop to second base, and the front office will be holding its collective breath until the two mesh as a double-play combination and atop the batting order. In keeping with Matsui's '86 theme, more than one Mets official described them as a Lenny Dykstra-Wally Backman offensive tandem, or at least that's what they're hoping for.

Manager Art Howe said yesterday that the switch-hitting Matsui, who batted .305 with 33 home runs and a .365 on-base percentage last season, most likely would lead off and Reyes, also a switch hitter, would follow him. Matsui displayed a rare blend of power and speed as a seven-time All-Star for the Seibu Lions, and he caught Howe's attention during the major-leaguers' barnstorming tour of Japan in November 2002. Howe watched Matsui from both sides of the plate in a game, so when the Mets' interest percolated, Matsui already had a supporter.

"I certainly told them he was an option," Howe said. "A very good option."

By then, Matsui, still a season away from free agency, was hardly a secret. But the Mets stayed close, with Pacific Rim scout Isao Ojimi already building a relationship with Japan's most coveted player. So did Fred Wilpon's son Bruce, who lives in Tokyo. The Mets, spurred by former manager Bobby Valentine, have been among the most progressive teams in signing Japanese players. After missing out on Hideki Matsui and Norihiro Nakamura last year, the Mets moved quickly to secure Kazuo Matsui once negotiations fell apart with free-agent second baseman Luis Castillo, who returned to the world champion Marlins.

The Mets envisioned Castillo as the perfect double-play partner for the maturing Reyes, as well as a selective hitter who could hit in front or behind him. But by signing Matsui, they acquired a player with more power and greatly improved themselves up the middle by moving Reyes to second base.

Reyes willingly surrendered his position during a visit by general manager Jim Duquette to the Dominican Republic, and the Mets did Reyes a favor in return by letting him keep his No. 7. Matsui will wear No. 25 - adding both digits equals the number he wore in Japan.

"We're going to be able to turn some double plays that other teams aren't going to be able to turn just because of the two power arms we're going to have in the middle of the infield," Howe said. "These kids can really throw it. We saw it from Jose last year, and this kid has the same type of arm."

Duquette, knowing the skepticism that accompanies Japanese players to the majors, admitted Matsui is a "calculated risk."

As Hideo Nomo, Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki have proven, that risk is not without reward. Kazuo Matsui is different in that he is the first Japanese infielder to be signed by a major-league team. But Duquette, clearly thrilled by the first big free-agent score of his brief tenure, is ready to use Matsui's signing as a springboard into this weekend's winter meetings in New Orleans.

"It helps," Duquette said. "It takes a little bit of the pressure off. I know for a fact that since we did sign [Matsui], a number of players have greater interest in the Mets."

June 8, 2006

Grim days ahead


With the Mets opening a four-game series in Arizona tonight, the pregame chat naturally turned to Jason Grimsley's sensational testimony regarding the alleged widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball .
When manager Willie Randolph was asked about the possibility of that same thing happening in his own clubhouse, he reacted like just about every other manager would.
“Well, there’s no way of knowing for sure,” Randolph said. "But I don't worry about it.”
That could change if the blacked-out names on Grimsley's statements ever become public, and based on what happened during the BALCO trial, anything's possible. Until then, everyone in baseball can only keep their fingers crossed.
“It’s not concerning my team,” Randolph said. But for how long? Does anyone know for sure?


June 7, 2006

Hurts so good

The Mets received mostly good news this afternoon when their injured players showed up for work. Carlos Beltran, who suffered a bruised left rib cage on Tuesday's diving catch, was back in the lineup. Jose Reyes and Cliff Floyd had to be replaced by Chris Woodward and Endy Chavez, respectively, but they are not expected out for long. Both Reyes (sprained wrist) and Floyd (sprained ankle) said they could be back as early as tomorrow's series opener in Arizona.

M*E*T*S

OK, I was trying for a whole M*A*S*H thing with this blog head, and that's what the visitors clubhouse seemed like a few hours after the Mets' 8-5 loss to the Dodgers on Tuesday night. Can't you see PR guru Jay Horwitz as Radar O'Reilly?

Anyway, Jose Reyes didn't seem too worried about his sprained right wrist and could be back in the lineup as early as Wednesday.Cliff Floyd's left ankle was swollen, but he was standing on it at his locker and spoke confidently about avoiding the DL. He's aiming to return by this weekend in Arizona.

The biggest concern, however, could be Carlos Beltran, and he didn't even leave the game. Beltran landed hard on the warning track making a diving catch of J.D. Drew's deep fly ball in the third inning, and the early diagnosis is bruised ribs on the left side. Beltran initially thought he pulled a rib-cage muscle -- like Albert Pujols' strained oblique -- but was hoping afterward that it's nothing more serious than a bruise.

The Mets will have a better read on the extent of their injuries when they show up for work Wednesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. Stay tuned.

June 6, 2006

Hurting in Hollywood

Jose Reyes was a late scratch from tonight's lineup because of a sore right wrist that he apparently hurt during one of his at-bats in Monday's 4-1 win over the Dodgers. X-rays taken during tonight's game were negative. But that was only the beginning of the Mets' injuries woes. Cliff Floyd had to be helped off the field in the second inning after badly twisting his left ankle running to third base on Jose Valentin's double. Floyd has a history of Achilles tendon problems, but this appeared to be an ankle sprain. We're still waiting for an official update from the Mets.

Carlos Beltran also gave manager Willie Randolph a few anxious moments in the third inning after his diving catch of J.D. Drew's deep drive to the gap in right-centerfield. Beltran slid across the warning track -- not a very cushy landing -- but managed to get a throw back to the infield before collapsing on the ground. Beltran remained on his knees for a few minutes, trying to stretch his back, as Randolph and assistant trainer Mike Herbst checked on him. Fortunately for the Mets, Beltran remained in the game.

Closing Arguments ...

Anyone else notice the friction between manager Willie Randolph and Billy Wagner just two months into the season? First there was that infamous meltdown against the Yankees, when Wagner was called on to protect a 4-0 lead in the ninth inning, promptly gave it all back and later said he was not mentally ready because it was not a save situation.

Now we have Monday night, when Wagner was told to warm up for the ninth inning, yet Randolph stayed with Chad Bradford to close out the 4-1 victory and cherry pick the save. Afterward, Randolph said he wanted to rest the bullpen, and liked the matchups with Bradford. But Wagner was puzzled by the move and said it was not a day off because he still had to get up and throw. When asked about the decision, Wagner replied, "He's the manager. He's calling the shots."

What do you think? Could this miscommunication become a problem in the not-so-distant future?

June 5, 2006

I love LA

Saw a funny thing in the sky today out here. Big orange thing, bright, warm. After a few minutes, it finally began to occur to me. "Oh yeah, the sun" After a soggy weekend at Shea, and what seems like interminable grayness in New York, I have to admit it was nice to experience weather that actually felt like June.

As for Dodger Stadium, it's truly a gem. Hard to believe this ballpark, which opened in 1962, is actually older than Shea. Maybe it's the climate. The grounds crew also does an incredible job with the field. A few hours before tonight's game, there was a guy vacuuming the oufield grass. No lie.

As for the Mets, Lastings Milledge was the hot topic this afternoon, with manager Willie Randolph downplaying Sunday's high-fiving controversy and Milledge himself expressing no regrets. Jose Valentin made his seventh start at second base in eight games, and Alay Soler's job could be on the line tonight against the Dodgers.

And Cliff Floyd picks the Heat to win in 6 games. Or 5. He hasn't made up his mind yet. Definitely going with Miami though.

June 4, 2006

Barry and the numbers game

Seven-hundred fifty-five, 714, 715. 61, 73. Numbers mean plenty to anyone who ever cared about baseball. You don’t even have to identify them because they are a language of their own, and they represent most of what makes baseball distinct.

Numbers, in fact, are what makes Barry Bonds so remarkable. He has hit 73 home runs in a season—12 more than the record that seemed so unbreakable for 37 years. Fans know that Babe Ruth’s 714 career homers stood as a benchmark and that Hank Aaron has the record with 755 and that Bonds is now the only one in between them.

Numbers are what tie baseball’s past, present and future. They are what give the sport its personality—for good or bad. Yes, critics point out that baseball people and fans are too hung up on figures, but it’s just the way it is. A pitcher who has 300 wins is a Hall of Famer, so is a batter who gets 3,000 hits. Numbers matter.

We know that hitting .400 for a season is almost impossible, as is winning 30 games or hitting safely in 56 consecutive games. We also know it all has been done. We know the numbers.

All of which brings us back to Bonds. What people hold against him—and any other batter or pitcher suspected of using steroids—is that he might throw a monkey wrench into the whole thing. If home run totals are artificially inflated now, what will any numbers mean from now on? Do we have a separate category for the late 1990s on? Is that even fair? Weren’t pitchers allegedly doing as many steroids as the sluggers? We just don’t know, and that’s the problem.

That’s a big reason why Bonds gets booed at Shea Stadium and everywhere else outside of San Francisco. He is the biggest target and, unlike Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and others, the one still standing.

-- Mark Herrmann

June 3, 2006

Play Ball?

Looks like the Mets have decided to try and squeeze in the first game of the doubleheader between raindrops this afternoon. The grounds crew is currently at work spreading sacks of quik-dry mix, from the infield to the warning track, but the field still appears pretty soggy. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.

FYI -- Carlos Beltran is not in today's lineup either.

June 2, 2006

Glub, glub

Rained out here at soggy Shea, which is practically underwater as I pen this blog entry. The Mets and Giants will play a straight doubleheader on Saturday, beginning at 1:25 p..m., with 30 minutes between games.
Here's the pregame wrap-up from Friday:
-- Carlos Beltran, still nursing a bruised right knee, was not in tonight's starting lineup and seems iffy for the weekend. Endy Chavez was in center, Lastings Milledge in right.
-- Orlando Hernandez will start the first game of the doubleheader, followed by Tom Glavine. Glavine also mentioned that he would be OK to return on short rest for Wednesday's game in LA, if needed.

For those holding tickets to Friday's rainout, they can be exchanged at the Shea box offiice for any game this weekend, or for another date this season.

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