Notes: Sanchez in Randolph's doghouse
Reliever's tardiness leads to one-day banishment from camp
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- In Willie Randolph's clubhouse, rules are rigid or they're not rules at all, but merely guidelines. As the Mets manager explained that Thursday, his back became rigid, too, his words became sterner, his displeasure became evident. And hours already had passed since Randolph had designated Duaner Sanchez "persona non grata" for a day in Mets camp.
The rigidity within Randolph rarely is apparent because he seldom is challenged. But Sanchez has irritated Randolph this spring, first by being in less than optimum condition when he arrived in camp and, more recently, by repeated tardiness.
So, having already imposed a fine on the relief pitcher, Randolph exiled Sanchez on Thursday. And the manager said he intends to discuss the matter with Omar Minaya on Friday when the general manager returns.
Players were aware of the discipline before Randolph made it public following the Mets' exhibition game against the Orioles. It wasn't much a topic of conversation, but the manager had asserted himself and made an impression on his players.
"Willie wants what we wants," one of them said.
And what he wants is promptness -- from every player, even those not fully recovered from last-summer surgery who won't be ready for Opening Day. Sanchez has been unable to work out with team because his surgically repaired right shoulder won't allow him to throw as much as other pitchers did in the first days of camp. That didn't matter to Randolph.
"Willie prides himself on running the camp on time," a staff member said. "I think he wanted to nip this kind of thing in the bud."
"If you want get on my bad side real quick," Randolph said, "be late. I don't have a lot of rules, but that's one that easy to follow."
He said he spoke with Sanchez before Thursday. He characterized the lateness as "again and again" and said, "He'd been warned."
"We had another conversation," Randolph said. "There was nothing he could say. He was late. Be here early enough to get your work in. We're here to work."
Mets come up just short of O's: A two-run home run by Ben Johnson in the eighth inning was the final piece of offense by the Mets. It left them one run short. The Orioles had scored five times in the second inning against Orlando Hernandez and led throughout.
El Duque had made his first start of the spring, pitching two weeks after receiving a diagnosis of arthritis in the neck and getting an injection of cortisone. He had retired the side in order in the first inning.
He took a ground ball off the inside of his left foot in the second inning. One run scored on that play, four successive hits followed, one a three-run home run by catcher Adam Donachie.
No one was even slightly concerned by Hernandez's performance. The more important numbers were 43 pitches -- he got his work in -- and zero. Hernandez experienced no pain in his neck.
The ground ball that struck El Duque did no damage. Indeed, he was unsure which foot had been struck.
The lowdown on Pelfrey: Ground ball after ground ball. Mike Pelfrey kept his pitches down and his chances of winning a place in the Opening Day rotation up Thursday. He made his second appearance in an exhibition game -- his first relief appearance since his freshman season at Wichita State -- and wowed his manager and pitching coach Rick Peterson.
Eight of the nine outs Pelfrey achieved -- pitching the third, fourth and fifth innings -- came on ground balls. Two of the three hits he surrendered were ground balls and both runs he allowed were unearned.
"I think he's going to make it very hard for me the last week," Randolph said as he foresaw the decisions regarding the last roster spots. "I hope he does. Because I think when he is ready, he's going to take off. He was very impressive today."
Trainer's room: X-rays of Carlos Delgado's neck taken Thursday were negative. Delgado didn't play for the third straight day because of stiffness and pain in his neck. He hopes to play Friday.
Camp cutting: There were no surprises among the 14 players reassigned to Minor League camp Thursday -- Fernando Martinez, Joe Hieptas, Kevin Mulvey, Drew Butera, Clint Nageotte, Jorge Vazquez, Willie Collazo, Eddie Camacho, Michael Abreu, Francisco Pena, Mike Nickeas, Chip Ambres and Victor Medez. Adam Bostick, a left-handed pitcher on the 40-man roster, was optioned.
Including 10 non-roster players, 47 players remain in camp.
Camp cutting II: Randolph was cut from Pirates camp in 1975 and never cut again.
"I really don't recall any conversation with [manager] Danny Murtaugh," he said. "I don't think he even talked to rookies. It wasn't like this. They didn't soften the blow."
Camp cutting III: Third baseman David Wright had rather vivid memories of the only time he ever has been cut from a team -- 2004 Spring Training, when Art Howe was the manager.
"I was having a pretty good spring," Wright said. "I was hitting about .400. The other guys were telling me I'd last another week because someone had to caddy for Wiggy [Ty Wigginton]. We had no other third basemen in camp.
"And I was hoping -- I mean, I knew I was going down -- but I was hoping for that one more week to spend more time with Joe [McEwing] and Wiggy.
"Then they sent me to play a 'B' in [nearby] Jupiter, [Fla.,] in the morning. I played all nine [innings]. When I got back, [coach] Matt Galante told me they needed me to come in late for Wiggy in the Major League game. So I was on the bench, and I played the last three innings.
"They got 12 [innings] out of me. And then they cut me."
Coming up: The Mets, who play the Tigers three times in the regular season, play them in an exhibition game for the second time Friday, when John Maine makes his second start of the spring, in Port St. Lucie. Billy Wagner and Aaron Heilman also are to face the defending American League champions in the 1:10 p.m. ET game. Kenny Rogers starts for the Tigers.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.