05/04/07 10:40 PM ET
Notes: Sosa gets his shot
Right-hander takes El Duque's spot in rotation on Saturday
By Marty Noble / MLB.com
The Mets believe Hernandez will be able to pitch next Friday against the Brewers at Shea. So Sosa's big-league assignment may last no longer than that of Chan Ho Park, who was ineffective as El Duque's understudy Monday night and exiled Thursday. But for now, Sosa is the rotation, status he has been unable to secure during an uneven exhibition game performance in March.
He returns to the big leagues -- the Mets will have to purchase his contract and add him to the 40-man roster -- seven days after his 30th birthday and after he had dominated Triple-A hitters with the Mets' New Orleans affiliate. He has produced a 4-0 record and 1.13 ERA in five starts and 32 innings with the Zephyrs.
He last pitched Sunday, a start that made it impossible for him to make the start that went to Park.
The club has been impressed with his work, not merely the results. Willie Randolph said the club's reports say Sosa is throwing his slider for strikes, something he didn't do much in Spring Training. "We know he can pitch in this league," Randolph said. "It's no secret he has Major League stuff."
But that often hasn't been enough. Sosa has a 27-40 career record. He produced a 3-12 record, pitching in relief and as a starter with the Braves and Cardinals last season after winning 13 of 16 decisions in 20 starts with the Braves in '05.
Moves: The Mets intended to remove one of their right-handed relievers, either Ambiorix Burgos or Lino Urdaneta, from the 25-man roster to accommodate Sosa. Park said he will accept assignment to the Minor Leagues.
Limp reasons: Moises Alou has a buildup of fluid, arthritis and a small tear in the meniscus in his left knee. The disabled list isn't an option, though. Alou was excluded from the lineup Friday night when the Mets played their second game against the Diamondbacks, though he was available to pinch-hit. He had been replaced by pinch-runner Endy Chavez in the sixth inning Thursday because the knee had stiffened and became sore after he had scored in the fourth.
"It was a very uncomfortable feeling. My knee felt very unstable and painful," Alou said.
He thought then he might need to have the knee drained and to have an injection of cortisone. Alou has a history of left knee problems.
Perspective in the desert: In beating the Diamondbacks Thursday, the Mets extended their winning streak in this city to 11 games, more successive road victories against one opponent than they ever had previously. And they continued to bury the D-backs. They have scored 93 runs and allowed 24 in those 11 games. So their average margin of victory, 6.3 runs in those games is significantly greater than their average runs per game, 4.7, in all other games since the first of the 11. Their slugging percentage in the 11 games is .587, 99 points higher than that of the '27 Yankees.
Mets "split": The Mets beat the D-backs, 9-4, Thursday night. And they nearly lost, 4-3. Both scores were represented in separate full stories on the Web site of the New York Daily News on Friday morning. The site had been prepared to run the 4-3 story, but didn't adjust when Damion Easley's game-winning home run changed the score.
This date in Mets history -- May 5: The great Warren Spahn pitched the 63rd and final shutout of his career in the Braves' 6-0 victory against the Mets in Milwaukee on this date in 1964. Spahnie, sold to the Mets the following November, also drove in two runs. A year later, Spahn pitched a complete game in the Mets' 1-0 loss to the Phillies at Shea Stadium, allowing a home run by winning pitcher Jim Bunning.
Mike Piazza hit a home run against Giants starter Jerome Williams in the first inning of a game at Shea on this date in 2004, to establish a record for home runs by a catcher, 352. He passed Carlton Fisk. Piazza, now on the disabled list as a designated list with the Athletics, now has hit 396 home runs as a catcher. ... One year ago on 5-5, the Mets' No. 5, David Wright, batting fifth and playing third base -- the No. 5 position, delivered a double in the 14th inning against Braves reliever Sosa to drive in the decisive run in the Mets' 8-7 victory at Shea. Sosa's record after the loss was 0-5. He had been used exclusively as a starter until that point.
Coming up: One day after facing one D-backs Cy Young Award winner, Randy Johnson, the Mets face another -- Brandon Webb. Sosa is to make his first big-league start since June 20 last season. He lost his last four starts and nine of his last 10 with Braves last season before he was traded to the Cardinals. First pitch is scheduled for 9:40 p.m. ET.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.