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NEW YORK -- He chose to wear Mets uniform No. 44 because David Cone wore it. He knew that. He would have opted for No. 23, if Brian Schneider didn't have dibs on it, because "Don Mattingly is my favorite player of all time," he said. Tim Redding has NYC and 212 in his genetic coding. He has the Yankees in his past -- his time with them was a cup of coffee, poorly brewed -- and now he has the Mets in his future.
When Redding pitches at Citi Field, it will be a home game in every sense. He is a native of Rochester, hardly a suburb of the big city, and he lives now in Michigan. But he favors New York. And now he is going to work in the big city. If all goes right for him, Redding will be a member of the Mets' starting rotation -- Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, fill in the Scott Boras-client blank and Timothy James Redding.
Redding called the one-year, $2.25 million deal he signed with the Mets on Monday afternoon "a dream come true." Pitching for them would be something more rewarding, particularly if his career follows the upswing it began last season, when he started 33 games and won 10 of them, pitched a career-high 182 innings and produced an ERA lower than 5.00 in a full season for the first time since 2003 -- all for the last-place Nationals.
Redding, 31 in a month, suffered a career indignity when he was non-tendered by a team that lost 102 games. But his response to a move that was payroll motivated was to contact his agent and urge him to contact the Mets. He had watched the Mets last season, he saw a bullpen overworked because, too often, their starter was unable to reach the seventh inning.
He completed the sixth inning 18 times for a team that scored the third-fewest runs in the National League.
General manager Omar Minaya mentioned Redding's innings total several times during a conference call with reporters on Monday. Redding's 182 would have been the fourth-highest total among the 2008 Mets starters. But one of the four who produced those figures, Oliver Perez, is unsigned as well as inconsistent. And even if Perez or the preferred Derek Lowe signs with the Mets, it's not as though Redding will become an excess.
Creating a rotation of five who have chances to pitch about 200 innings each is every general manager's objective.
Moreover, Redding produced a 3.41 ERA and a 3-1 record in five starts against the Phillies. That wasn't lost on Minaya.
"I can't explain why I can have success against one of the elite teams," Redding said.
The Mets sought no explanation. A reprise would be preferable.
Minaya indicated his pursuit of Lowe and Perez continues. The Mets have made an offer to Lowe and have reportedly done the same with Perez, according to SI.com's Jon Heyman while speaking on MLB Network's Hot Stove show on Monday.
And, while Minaya didn't discount the possibility of some contact with Pedro Martinez, the GM characterized Martinez as "in the pool" of other pitchers the Mets have on their radar. It sounded more like a contingency plan than a wish list.
Minaya also put aside the notion of the Mets dealing with the Rangers for Michael Young.
"We're not in the position-player market, we're more in the pitchers market," he said.