Zeile for catching

As the Mets' disappointing season bows to the pursuit of individual achievements, Todd Zeile will score a personal victory on Friday. <P> Zeile, who last caught in 1990 with the Cardinals, has chirped for some time about wanting to get back behind the dish before he retires at year's end. He'll get that chance on Friday, when he catches Tom Glavine.

"It's exciting," Zeile said. "I'm a little nervous, not as much because I can't do it, but because I still want to give Glav a chance to win."

Zeile came up through the Cardinals farm system as a catcher, catching 128 games (119 starts) in the major leagues before becoming a serviceable corner infielder. Though he hasn't worn the tools of ignorance in a game for over a decade, Zeile has been working with bullpen catcher Nelson Silverio on a variety of drills this season.

In addition to eagerly warming up pitchers in-between innings, Zeile has caught a number of pitchers' side sessions in recent weeks. One of those hurlers was Glavine, who proclaimed Zeile ready for game action and said he wouldn't mind throwing to him.

"It's important to [Zeile]," Howe said. "He wants to catch a whole game. All parties are on the same page, and I'm sure he'll do well."

Howe said that he would have rather had Zeile catch in front of a crowd at Shea Stadium, but plotted out Glavine's starts and realized that the lefthander won't take the hill at home again until the final week of the season.

"Who knows, with our luck we'd get rained out on the last day," Howe said. "He wouldn't even get to catch. I didn't want to wait that long."

Assuming Zeile makes the start Friday, his 14 years between appearances as a catcher will be the second-most in baseball history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Gabby Street holds the mark with 19 years, catching with the Yankees as an active player in 1912. Street caught one game for the Cardinals in 1931, after he'd been managing the club.

Mets Notes

  • One day after the organization announced that Howe would not return for the 2004 season, the lame-duck manager insisted that there was nothing awkward about going on with his day-to-day duties at the helm of the team.

    It sure didn't feel normal meeting with Howe in his soon-to-be-vacated office, but the manager said he was fine with the way things worked out.

    "It's different, but it's not awkward," Howe said.

  • Kaz Matsui and Jose Reyes worked out at second base and shortstop, respectively, the second straight day they've done so. For a second base neophyte, Matsui appeared smooth in pre-game drills, whipping throws to Reyes at second base with ease.

    The Mets haven't given up hope on showing off a sneak preview of their 2005 infield alignment before season's end, with Matsui and Reyes both showing positive improvement from their injuries.

    Of course, Reyes has extensive experience at shortstop, but Matsui would be an interesting case study at second base if the situation were to get that far.

    "We're not good at predicting," GM Jim Duquette said. "Hopefully they'll continue to progress."

  • Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories