Los Angeles Dodgers @ New York Mets Series Preview

The Mets may be in last place in the National League East; may be on the verge of firing their general manager; and may be in the process of eating the 30-million dollar contract of their underachieving first baseman and replacing him with their future Hall-of-Fame catcher. That being said, this three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers may provide the most excitement of the season thus far at Shea.

This series once again unites Mike Piazza with Dodgers' relief pitcher Guillermo Mota. Last season during spring training, Mota hit Piazza with a pitch, and at the end of the inning, Piazza flagged him down and put a choke hold on him. This past March, Dodgers' manager Jim Tracy let Mota stay in the game an extra inning, so he could plunk Piazza again. After Piazza's dash to the mound yielded less than satisfying results, Piazza went into the Dodger clubhouse after his aggressor, to no avail. For his efforts, Piazza was suspended four games, and the issue, according to the Mets, is still unresolved. That resolution, however, could come over the next three days in Flushing.

Tuesday night's series opener pits lefthanded journeyman Odalis Perez (1-1, 2.83) taking the hill for Los Angeles against former Dodger Pedro Astacio (1-1, 9.90). Astacio pitched well in his first game off the disabled, going six strong innings in a win over the Astros, but was rocked by St. Louis last week, allowing nine runs in only four innings. And he has not fared well against his former team, 4-7, 6.07 lifetime.

Former Met and resurrected Dodger Hideo Nomo (3-4, 3.44) pitches the middle game against Steve Trachsel (0-1, 5.45), who is off to his usual slow start with the Mets. Trachsel, who has been effective at times, has only one decision in six starts so far this season.

Hopefully for the Mets, they won't need Tom Glavine (4-2, 3.64) as a stopper (again) Thursday night when the series concludes. He'll be opposed by fellow lefty and Japanese import Kaz Ishii (2-1, 3.21). Even though Glavine is on his way to Cooperstown, he is sub-.500 lifetime against the Dodgers (15-17). Ishii has lost his only career decision against the Mets.

The Dodgers placed former Met Todd Hundley on the disabled list with a sciatic nerve problem...The Mets placed Mo Vaughn on the disabled list May 3rd due to his on-going knee problems. They recalled Jason Phillips to give Piazza defensive relief in the late innings. Tony Clark will get most of the work at first...Dodgers RHP Darren Dreifort, who missed all of last season and half of 2001 with arm problems, tweaked his knee Monday night, but is expected to make his next start Monday in Montreal...Mets general manager Steve Phillips, according to published reports, has begun telling his colleagues that he expects to be dismissed.

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