03/31/06 9:02 PM ET
Notes: Wright hits fifth in loaded lineup
Third baseman to break up lefties Delgado and Floyd
By Marty Noble / MLB.com
Nothing like a little order to give camp a sense of formality just as the season is about to begin.
Then, Victor Zambrano threw a pitch in the seventh inning Friday. His left hamstring barked a little, and the Mets were back to finger painting. Tom Glavine still is the Opening Day starter, and Zambrano now is the second game (not-as-) probable.
So the Mets' final full day in their own Florida home was, as Walt "Clyde" Frazier might say, one of decisions and revisions, assignments and realignments, all done with rhyme and reason. It made for a day so busy that even a start by Pedro Martinez was relegated to 1A status, or less.
And, of course, all the plans have the life expectancy of a sand castle before the tide. So replace the pens with pencils, write this stuff down, and understand that the words of the day are: "For now."
1. Jose Reyes, SS
2. Paul Lo Duca, C
3. Carlos Beltran, CF
4. Carlos Delgado, 1B
5. David Wright, 3B
6. Cliff Floyd, LF
7. Xavier Nady, RF
8. Anderson Hernandez, 2B
Game 1: Glavine
Game 2: Zambrano or Brian Bannister
Game 3: Martinez
Game 4: Steve Trachsel
Game 5: Glavine
Game 6: Bannister, unless he started the second game
Closer: Billy Wagner
Setup relievers: Aaron Heilman, Duaner Sanchez, Chad Bradford, Jorge Julio and Pedro Feliciano
Reserves: Chris Woodward, Julio Franco, Ramon Castro, Endy Chavez, Victor Diaz and Jose Valentin.
Randolph acknowledges Beltran may bat second, third or fourth; that Wright could bat as low as sixth, as he did Thursday when Delgado and Floyd batted fourth and fifth; and that Hernandez may bat second when Lo Duca doesn't play and Ramon Castro catches.
Randolph says using his two left-handed run producers in successive slots -- fourth and fifth, with Wright sixth -- is a concept born in aggressiveness, even if the opposing team has a left-handed specialist in its bullpen who might be able to defuse an inning with Delgado and Floyd in it.
"If they start a righty, the idea is to score early and not worry about what happens late," Randolph said.
Former Mets manager Davey Johnson would applaud that thinking. "Score first, worry later," he would say. He would start his best offensive team for one reason.
"No matter how good your defense is, you can't win 'nothing to one,'" he used to say. It also helped the Johnson's pitchers were stingy and didn't rely so much on their defense.
With one game to go, Saturday afternoon in Jupiter, all players other than Zambrano are healthy. And the club probably won't make a determination on him until Sunday during their workout at Shea Stadium. Feliciano is the lone non-roster player to make the Opening Day roster. The Mets must add him to their 40-player roster by midnight Saturday.
Little of what happened Friday should come as a revelation, though there was little chance when camp began in mid-February that Diaz would be on the roster if Nady won the right-field assignment. In the end, though, general manager Omar Minaya indicated the difference between carrying 11 or 12 pitchers was a function of wanting an extra position player -- "one with pop" -- on the bench. Diaz qualifies.
So the Mets assigned Jose Lima, Darren Oliver, Yusaku Iriki and Heath Bell to the Minor League camp and thereby established the in-pencil, 25-man Opening Day roster.
The only genuine intrigue involved Feliciano, who was told he had made the team after pitching 2 1/3 scoreless innings against the Cardinals on Friday, and Oliver, who, in six weeks, changed from a frog to prince and almost to this year's Roberto Hernandez. The 34-year-old left-handed pitcher left camp Friday morning unaware of his fate. He flew to California to be with his mother, who has been hospitalized.
The Mets intended to notify him of their decision after he landed. They will wait until Monday for him to accept or decline the assignment.
Pedro's second outing: Martinez's second start of the spring lasted four innings, but more importantly, 20 batters and 88 pitches. Throwing an inordinate number of fastballs and reaching 91 mph on some, Martinez clearly broke a sweat. He increased his stamina, his arm strength and his ERA (3.86, for those who think it matters). He found satisfaction in his quantity and rightly dismissed the lack of quality. His command of his pitches was "off," by his own word.
Martinez also acknowledged that back in February, when he first unpacked his bag at the Minor League complex, he wasn't sure the condition of his problematic toe or how well the modified shoe he still was waiting to receive would allow him to function.
Who's No. 2? It's, "Who knows?" until Saturday, and perhaps Sunday, as to who will pitch the second game of the season on April 5. Zambrano doesn't believe the injury is severe because it is located in the middle, not at either end, of the hamstring. Randolph noted the pitcher had been ill and somewhat dehydrated earlier in the week and that the "strain" may have resulted from that.
The Mets told Bannister he had made the rotation Tuesday and then, a day later, that he would make his big-league debut in the Mets' sixth game. His parents and both brothers had planned to attend the April 9 game.
"My college roommates are going to use their slush fund to be there," he said.
But if he pitches Wednesday, none of his party can attend.
He wasn't about to decline the assignment on those -- or any -- grounds.
Billy's back: Billy Wagner, who hasn't pitched since March 18, is to throw an inning Saturday against the Cardinals. He wanted to throw in successive games March 18-19 but didn't because of stiffness in the tendon sheath in the middle finger of his left hand. Now this: "I can't see why I won't throw," he said. He intended to be available for Opening Day.
Up next: The Mets and Cardinals meet again in Jupiter on Saturday afternoon at 12:05 ET in the Spring Training finale for both teams. Steve Trachsel, hit hard in his most recent appearance, makes his sixth exhibition game start, opposite St. Louis' Jason Marquis.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.