03/17/07 6:42 PM ET
Notes: Randolph thinking lineups
Manager trying out different combinations to see which work
By Marty Noble / MLB.com
Manager Willie Randolph indicated as much.
Or, when Lo Duca is rested -- and that will happen regularly -- Jose Valentin could bat second and Ramon Castro, Lo Duca's catching understudy, could bat eighth. Or, Endy Chavez could bat second when he starts in place of Alou.
"We're even more flexible now than we were last year." Randolph said. "I can go lots of ways."
And Randolph insists he has neither a preference nor a plan at this point. The manager is using Spring Training games to learn who and what fits where and when. But why?
"Things come up in a season," Randolph said. "Days off, injuries ... the need to move someone. I want to know as much as I can about guys and how they look in a particular spot."
The challenger: Some fan had a novel way of seeking an autograph from Rickey Henderson, the Mets' Spring Training instructor.
"I'll race you," he said. "I win, you sign."
Henderson declined, and the autograph-seeker probably was better off. Henderson still looks like he could extend his stolen-base record well beyond 1,406.
"They don't want to be challenging me," Henderson said. "What do I get when I beat him?"
Duaner Sanchez happened by as Henderson was talking.
"Quit talking, that's all in the past," Sanchez said, playfully.
"I'll rush you, too," Henderson said. "I'd be sitting on your mistake. All you [pitchers] make one mistake. I'm there for that, and I'll rush on you."
"I'm not gonna make a mistake when I try to hit you," Sanchez said.
Henderson didn't blink.
"You sure you want me on first base," he said. "I won't be there long."
Wearing his Irish: The Mets wore green caps Saturday, as they have for years on St. Patrick's Day. This year's caps had orange bills. Rusty Staub, who brings his orange with him, made his first appearance of the spring, wearing a green shirt. With his credentials attached to an orange lanyard, Staub look liked a Miami Hurricane.
Inexperience: Casey Stengel, the Mets' first and most colorful manager, emerged from the clubhouse at what already was known as the Higgins-Stengel Complex in St. Petersburg, Fla., in Spring Training during the morning of March 17, 1964. A reporter noticed that the Ol' Professor hadn't dressed for the day and called him on it.
"Casey, St. Patty's Day, and you've got no green."
Said Stengel: "I've got [Ron] Swoboda, ain't I?"
Swoboda broke into the big leagues in '65.
Green for a day: Shawn Green has no Irish blood, but he did agree he could be identified as Sean Green temporarily. He is one of three Greens in Mets history, Dallas and Pumpsie are the others. Charlie Greene, a catcher who had a cup of coffee in 1996 -- it was Irish coffee, of course -- doesn't count.
The Mets did have Charlie O'Brien, Tom O'Malley, Doug Flynn and Tim Foli, but Foli doesn't count, either. And, of course, the late Tug McGraw. And John Maine claims his paternal grandmother's maiden name was O'Shea.
Irish for a day: The Shea Stadium speakers blare the first word of the song "Volare," aka "Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu" by Domenico Modugno at some point during a Lo Duca at-bat, prompting the fans to response with "Oh, oh." Later in the at-bat comes "Cantare," and it prompts, "Oh, oh, oh, oh!" from the crowd.
"I guess it's the way they let everyone know I'm Italian," Lo Duca said last season after he realized the segments of song were played for him.
But Lo Duca, like "Sean Green," agreed to change his heritage for the day -- Paul O'Duca. It's a stretch, granted.
"But the school I went to as a kid was St. Dunne and Jude. The teachers were nuns, mostly from Ireland," he said. "And the nickname for the teams was the Fighting Irish."
Not quite like the Fighting Irish of Aaron Heilman's alma mater, Notre Dame.
Buying a vowel: Maine also said his father's family surname used to be Main, but that his grandfather added the "E" for pizzazz and mystique. Tom Glavine, part Irish, said some members of his family have dropped "E" for reasons of proper pronunciation. "Actually," Glavine said, "I think my family gave the 'E' to the Maines."
Coming up: The Mets play the third of four scheduled games against the Cardinals on Sunday. They play in Jupiter, Fla., beginning at 1:05 p.m. ET, with Orlando Hernandez making his second exhibition start, opposite Kip Wells. Ambiorix Burgos and Lino Urdaneta are expected to follow El Duque; Jason Isringhausen and Russ Springer are set to follow Wells.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.