For Spencer, Pain In The Glass

NEW YORK -- On Wednesday, Dan Wheeler shunned the drive back to Norfolk, Virginia, leaving his car in storage because he truly believed he'd be back in New York in a matter of days. <P> How right he was. Wheeler returned to the Mets on Friday, as the team disabled outfielder Shane Spencer, who stepped on broken glass in a freak bar accident and needed five stitches to close a gash on his right foot.

"It's bad enough where I can't help the team, so we had to make a move," said Spencer, who was hitting .281 in 69 games this season. "It's frustrating to go on the DL for something stupid. It's bad luck."

The incident occurred early Friday morning, as Spencer, his wife and several other couples hit the town in New York following a team-sponsored cruise around Manhattan after Thursday's game.

Shortly after midnight, Spencer said that, while wearing open-toed sandals, he stepped awkwardly onto a pile of broken glass. Gushing blood, Spencer and his wife wrapped the foot in several towels before he was taken to St. Vincent's Hospital, where emergency room staff administered the five stitches.

Attending doctors told Spencer that he should stay off of the foot for a week and issued the outfielder what he called an "old man's cane," which made a disabled list stint an obvious choice. GM Jim Duquette was present on Friday when the Mets medical staff removed Spencer's emergency room bandages, and agreed with the move.

"It was pretty apparent this was an obvious DL [situation]," Duquette said. "I'm not frustrated by it. It's one of those things that happen – there's nothing we can do about it at this point."

Though his playing time diminished greatly after the Mets acquired Richard Hidalgo in June, Spencer was still having a decent season, hitting .281 with four homers and 26 RBI in 69 games this year. He is unsure if he'll accompany the Mets on their upcoming road trip to Montreal, Atlanta, Milwaukee and St. Louis.

"I wasn't playing a whole lot, but I thought I was playing pretty solid," Spencer said. "It's unfortunate."

Mets Notes

  • One day after surrendering a two-run homer to the Montreal Expos' Tony Batista, Mets reliever John Franco was doing his best to keep his head high. Franco has taken a lashing in the New York press and on the city's two 24-hour sports radio stations, but says he is taking the criticism – vicious as it may be – in stride.

    "I can't control what people think about me," Franco said. "I can't control what they feel."

    While it's fair to criticize Franco for his failure to retire Batista, or for the other three home runs he's allowed this season (all of which wound up as the difference in the game), it's clear that the Mets need bullpen help if they hope to hang around in this mediocre divisional race.

    The Mets simply cannot get by with Franco, age 43, and Mike Stanton, age 37, as their primary setup relievers, a note that Duquette acknowledged Friday, stating that he was seeking an additional right-handed reliever who could pitch in the seventh and eighth innings.

    As far as Franco's immediate future goes, he said that he hasn't entertained the idea of retirement, but will make a decision at the end of this season. Franco still believes that he can retire Major League batters, and hopes to prove it over the next eight weeks or so.

    "I have confidence," Franco said. "I'm cocky. Everybody's called me cocky since 1984 and I'm still cocky. I still think I can get people out."

  • Duquette said that he is also still seeking a starting pitcher, and would prefer if a starter was available before a reliever. However, he said that he couldn't control which came first.

    In other trade news, the Newark Star-Ledger reported Friday that the Mets were trying to deal utilityman Joe McEwing to the San Diego Padres before trade talks collapsed on Wednesday. Though the Mets entertained the idea of designating McEwing for assignment, the club eventually settled upon demoting Wheeler to Triple-A instead in order to clear room for David Wright's promotion.

  • Friday's game against the Atlanta Braves was called around 5:30 p.m., with bands of pouring rain and flooding plaguing the tri-state area. The game will be made up on Monday, Sept. 13 as part of a single-admission doubleheader beginning at 5:10 p.m. Fans holding tickets for Friday's game should call the Mets ticket office at 718-507-TIXX.

    With the rainout, Steve Trachsel has been moved up to start Sunday against the Braves instead of Scott Erickson. Erickson will pitch Monday at Montreal instead.

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