Reyes could be back

Jose Reyes is expected to return to the Mets lineup after a five-week absence Friday as the Mets meet the Chicago Cubs in the opening game of three at Shea Stadium. <P> The oft-injured Reyes' latest malady came courtesy of a stress fracture in his left fibula, but Reyes gave the leg the ultimate test this past week in Montreal, running sprints on Olympic Stadium's rock-hard turf.

Reyes insisting that he's close to 100 percent is a golden sign for the Mets.

New York played well on Thursday, with Tom Glavine tossing 6-1/3 innings and allowing two runs to earn his 10th win of the year and Victor Diaz cracking his first Major League home run, but the Mets can use all the help they can get as they receive one more opportunity to play spoiler.

The Mets virtually vaulted the Florida Marlins back to the cusp of the postseason race a few weeks back, but will look to inflict all the damage they can on the Cubs, who hold a half game lead in the Wild Card race over the San Francisco Giants.

New York also gets a chance to see the resurgent Glendon Rusch, who starts for the Cubs Friday and has resurrected his career in the Windy City.

Mets Notes

  • While the Mets and Expos were dueling it out in the Battle of the Basement Friday night, Mike Piazza somehow managed to appear on NBC's "The Apprentice." In a segment taped earlier this season, Piazza appeared in a public square in New York hawking a vanilla mint toothpaste, earning $20,000 from the Proctor & Gamble-bankrolled 'Apprentice' team for 30 minutes of his time.

  • Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella had kind words for the Mets Thursday, particularly regarding the team's trade for Victor Zambrano at the deadline.

    No, Piniella wasn't thanking the Mets for Scott Kazmir – it was actually more along the lines of Piniella prodding Devil Rays ownership to take a page out of the Mets' playbook and try to increase the club's woeful $23 million payroll.

    "One thing I can tell you about the New York Mets that I really like," Piniella said, "is the fact is that at the trading deadline they went out there and did their best as an organization to improve their situation, give themselves a chance.

    "Things didn't work out as they anticipated. As a coach or a player, you like to see those things happen. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. But they tried."

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