Erickson over; Spencer could soon follow

Scott Erickson's brief and disappointing stay with the New York Mets is over. <P> Coming off of a brutal start against the Montreal Expos Monday in which Erickson failed to record an out in a seven-run third inning, the Mets opted to cut their ties with the 36-year-old righthander, designating him for assignment before Wednesday's game at Montreal's Olympic Stadium.

The move concluded a costly and disappointing stint in New York for Erickson, who made the Mets' roster out of spring training but strained a quadriceps muscle just minutes into his warmup on April 9 at Atlanta, when he was scheduled to make his first National League start.

Placed on the Major League disabled list (and thus collecting the biweekly portion of his $700,000 Major League salary), Erickson spent months rehabilitating the strain at the club's spring training facility in Port St. Lucie, Fla. before finally appearing in a game with the Mets on July 19.

Erickson pitched well in that contest, a 6-5 loss to the Florida Marlins at Shea Stadium in which the righthander allowed to two runs (one earned) and eight hits over six innings. In that start, Erickson was charged with seven runs (six earned) on seven hits, including a home run, in just two innings.

Mets Notes

In another move, the Mets placed outfielder Shane Spencer on the club's suspended list indefinitely Wednesday, stemming from his drunken driving arrest early Tuesday morning by the Florida Highway Patrol.

Spencer, who is on the Mets' disabled list, was stopped by a state trooper after his rented white Volvo was clocked speeding at 98 MPH in a 70 MPH zone on Interstate 95 in St. Lucie County less than two miles from the club's spring training facility. He failed several field sobriety tests and told the arresting officer, Vito Frouggiero, that he had consumed "six or seven" drinks.

The arrest was the third black mark in Spencer's very brief Mets career, which could be coming to a close. In March, Spencer and ex-teammate Karim Garcia were investigating for allegedly scuffling with a Port St. Lucie pizza delivery boy; last week, he needed five stitches after stepping on broken glass in a Manhattan bar following a team-sponsored cruise.

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