06/28/07 8:09 PM ET
Notes: Rainout negates Pelfrey recall
Mets no longer need extra starter for Friday doubleheader
By Anthony DiComo / MLB.com
The Mets had been prepared for some time to recall rookie starter Mike Pelfrey from Triple-A New Orleans, needing a sixth starter to fill a void in Friday's doubleheader at Philadelphia. But with rains postponing the team's finale with the Cardinals at Shea Stadium, Thursday's starter Orlando Hernandez will now move back to start the first half of the twin bill, and John Maine will bump down to start the second game.
Mets manager Willie Randolph was prepared for that scenario all along, hinting that he thought the team would be able to avoid recalling Pelfrey -- despite being smack in the middle of a stretch of 18 games in 17 days.
"If everything stays the same with the weather [Thursday] and [Friday], most likely Pelfrey will pitch the second game," Randolph said before Thursday's game. "Depends on what happens with the weather."
And what happened was far from the worst scenario for the Mets. Pelfrey certainly remains one of their greatest pitching hopes for the future, but he struggled mightily in his first stint with the big club this season. When he packed his suitcases bound for New Orleans in May, common sentiment was that he might not have been back until September.
Friday's scheduled doubleheader changed all that, and then Thursday's rainout changed it again. The Mets had been planning on waiting until between games Friday to make a roster move in order to avoid shipping off one of their current 25 men unnecessarily.
Still, it's safe to say Pelfrey has earned another shot at some point, and he will likely get it. After a rocky cup of coffee that saw him post an 0-5 record and a 6.53 ERA, the 23-year-old right-hander has settled down in the Minors, where seven starts have brought him a 2-2 record and a 3.44 ERA.
More importantly, his strikeouts are up -- 19 in his last 16 1/3 innings -- and his walks are down, with just four during that span. That's a notable difference from his Major League stint, in which he walked 17 and struck out just 13 in 30 1/3 innings.
"He's a young player that's continuing to work and continuing to get better," Randolph said. "Whether he was doing good or bad or so-so, it won't make much difference, really, because he's learning how to pitch."
Park factor: Friday also begins a stretch in which the Mets play 11 straight games on the road leading into the All-Star break. That's not such a bad thing -- the team continues to play better away from Shea, compiling a 20-14 record -- but this time, it might have some added benefits.
The three parks the Mets will visit -- Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Coors Field in Colorado and Minute Maid Park in Houston -- are widely considered three of the best hitters' parks in the Majors.
And while the Mets' offense has continued to struggle, posting just seven runs in the first three games against St. Louis, those friendly stadiums could provide a perfect jolt.
"We're going to some good parks to hit," said outfielder Shawn Green, "and that could be just what this offense needs."
It starts with the four games in Philly, where New York averaged over five runs per game last season -- despite being shut out three times. For comparison's sake, the Mets are averaging 3.6 runs per game in June.
"We're not swinging the bats the way we're capable of, and when we do, I think we're going to break out in a big way," said third baseman David Wright. "And I can't think of a better time to break out than this weekend."
Knee-jerk reaction: Second baseman Jose Valentin has kept no secrets about his bum right knee, making it clear that without his protective brace, he wouldn't be able to play at all without surgery.
Valentin will receive more than his share of rest because of that, and this week has proved it. The second baseman was out of the scheduled starting lineup for the second straight night on Thursday, needing the extra blow with Friday's doubleheader on the horizon.
Zephyr debut: Lefty Dave Williams pitched 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball on Tuesday in his second rehab start, and first with Triple-A New Orleans. Williams is recovering from preseason hernia surgery on his neck.
Midsummer bummer: Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was just as downtrodden as Randolph upon hearing that the Mets manager's shoulder surgery would keep him off La Russa's All-Star coaching staff.
"I'm disappointed," La Russa said after hearing the news. "I was looking forward to being teammates with him again."
The duo had spent a brief time together in the Minor Leagues in the 1970s -- Randolph on his way up, La Russa on his way down -- before reuniting on the 1990 Oakland team that won the American League pennant.
Never normal: The Mets haven't played a nine-inning game since Sunday, with two straight 11-inning affairs and a rain-shortened 5 1/2-inning bout on Wednesday.
That's not to say they'll be expecting any overtime in next month's paychecks. Considering Green ended Monday's game with no outs in the bottom of the 11th, and Wednesday's game was called midway through the sixth, the team has played exactly 27 innings -- or an average of nine per day -- over that three-game span.
Coming up: The Mets travel to Philly for Friday's doubleheader, a makeup of an April 16 rainout. Hernandez is slated to face Phillies farmhand J.D. Durbin in the day game, scheduled for 1:35 p.m. ET, while Maine will square off against lefty sensation Cole Hamels in the 7:05 p.m. nightcap.
Anthony DiComo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.