Consider Fisk Caught

It's finally over. <P> Mike Piazza's pursuit of the record for home runs by a catcher came to its conclusion Tuesday, as Piazza pumped a Hideo Nomo pitch into the left-field bleachers at Dodger Stadium.

The blast – Piazza's 351st as a catcher, tying Carlton Fisk's career mark – ended what was nearly a three-week, 64 at-bat homerless drought for Piazza, but more importantly, it helped provide some juice to a New York offensive attack that had been stagnant for the most part of the last few series.

"It felt good," Piazza told reporters after the Mets' 9-5 victory. "I've been thinking about it a little bit. Let me get one more and turn the page."

Piazza's pursuit of Fisk has been a little bit of a personal obsession over the last year or so. He probably would have passed the milestone last year if he hadn't gone down with a severe groin injury in May.

Even so, Piazza has continually denied that the record was fueling his desire to continue catching -- "I just thought it would be a cool little record to have," he told the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger once, almost apologetically.

Piazza will inevitably pass Fisk, perhaps as soon as tonight, but that won't help spur a full-time move to first base, as some have speculated.

Manager Art Howe never set a definitive plan in motion in spring training for working Piazza in at first, and even though Piazza has performed capably in the infield in limited action so far this season, Jason Phillips' bat has gone ice-cold – he entered last night's game at Los Angeles in an 0-for-26 funk before going 1-for-4.

Furthermore, Howe has essentially refused to give Vance Wilson – the club's best defensive catcher – an extended look behind the plate (through New York's 20 games, Wilson has exactly two starts, or one more than middle reliever Dan Wheeler). With catcher Mike Jacobs on the fast track to the majors at Triple-A Norfolk, a trade involving Wilson appears probable.

RUN SUPPORT FOR GLAVINE: The Mets atoned for robbing Tom Glavine of victories in his last two starts by pumping out early run support Tuesday night, powered by Shane Spencer's two-run homer and Todd Zeile's solo shot in the second inning.

Glavine had posted a 1.00 ERA over the last couple of outings but was stuck with a loss and a no-decision, respectively. He didn't nearly pitch as well Tuesday at Chavez Ravine, allowing 10 hits and three runs in six innings, but it was still good enough for his third win of the year.

The win gave Glavine 254 in his career, tying Jack Morris and Urban Faber for 37th place on the all-time list. However, it was just his 11th victory in a Mets uniform; Glavine can rule out catching Tom Seaver's club mark of 198.

COMEBACK TRAIL: Jose Reyes has stolen three bases in a rehab stint with St. Lucie (A) of the Florida State League and could rejoin the Mets next Tuesday in New York. Reyes, who has been sidelined since March 14 with a strained hamstring, could probably be available sooner but the Mets do not want to fly him cross-country to San Diego for just one or two games over the weekend.

However, Cliff Floyd (quadriceps) has also made significant progress and could be available for the San Diego series.

IN THE MINORS: Good stuff going on with Binghamton (AA). Chase Lambin is on fire after a slow start; he homered and doubled last night and has collected nine RBI in the B-Mets' last two games.

Meanwhile, Joselo Diaz has been unhittable, quite literally. He threw 4-2/3 innings, allowing an unearned run, and still has yet to allow a base hit in 14.0 innings.


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