Zambrano walks off, will miss next start

As the Mets careen toward the finish line of this season, losing nuts and bolts all along the way, one more significant piece fell off on Tuesday night. <P> Newly acquired starter Victor Zambrano took the mound with an aching right elbow that burned more after each one of his 36 pitches, leaving the mound at Coors Field after just 1-2/3 innings.

The Mets lost the game to the Colorado Rockies, 6-4, but more importantly, they appear to have lost Zambrano for at least one start and possibly more.

The 29-year-old right-hander has returned to New York to be examined by team physician Dr. Andrew Rokito, with very little good news to be expected coming out of that meeting.

New York acquired Zambrano on July 30 knowing that he had a cranky right elbow – the club diagnosed it as flexor tendinitis, an easily treatable ailment – pushing his Mets debut back 10 days to allow the injury to heal itself.

Zambrano was decent in that start at Milwaukee on August 5 and was lights out against the Houston Astros at Shea Stadium in his second start last Thursday, easing some concerns about the trade that put top pitching prospect Scott Kazmir in a Montgomery Biscuits uniform (where he has fashioned a 1.44 ERA and appears in line to join Lou Piniella's Tampa Bay Devil Rays troops in September).

With Zambrano's problem cropping up once more, the deal again reverts to a huge question mark.

Long reliever Dan Wheeler took the ball after Zambrano's exit and pitched about as well as could be expected, keeping the Mets in the game. New York actually took the lead in the third inning on a Richard Hidalgo RBI double, but Colorado tied the game in the bottom half of the inning on a Vinny Castilla RBI single.

Matt Holliday belted a solo homer off of Wheeler in the sixth to give the Rockies the lead.

News Roundup

  • John Franco has left the team to be with his wife, Rose, who gave birth to the couple's third child on Monday in New York. Ella Franco weighed in at seven pounds, 10 ounces.

    Franco, who has not pitched since August 5 and complained about the situation in a published report last week, will rejoin the team on Friday in San Francisco.

  • Tom Glavine was fitted for a pair of temporary replacement teeth on Tuesday, setting the stage for the lefthander to make his scheduled start on Saturday at San Francisco. He has traveled home to Atlanta, where he is continuing to go through the usual paces of his pre-start preparation.

  • Outfielder Cliff Floyd told the New York Post that he would play first base next season if the Mets asked him to. Floyd was involved in a gruesome injury at first base in 1995, when a collision with the Mets' Todd Hundley fractured Floyd's right wrist and raised doubts as to if Floyd would even be able to play again.

  • The Mets traded catcher Tom Wilson, who was with the Mets briefly this season, to the Dodgers for 25-year-old catcher Tony Socarras. Also, infielder Jeff Keppinger – who was acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Kris Benson deal – was promoted to Triple-A Norfolk.

  • Reliever Jose Parra, on the 60-day disabled list, had season-ending surgery on his fractured right pinky finger yesterday. Parra suffered the injury in his first rehab start for Double-A Binghamton.

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