DeJean files for free agency

Reliever Mike DeJean filed for free agency on Monday, although it's considered a mere formality: the 35-year-old reliever enjoyed his brief stint with the Mets and would be looking forward to a return. <P>

After being acquired from the Baltimore Orioles in a July 19 deal for outfielder Karim Garcia, DeJean pitched well for the Mets before suffering a stress fracture in his lower right leg.

That came in the Mets' doubleheader at Coors Field on Aug. 19, when DeJean was hit by an Aaron Miles grounder.

The righthander left the game after the injury, which was originally diagnosed as a contusion. Within a week, DeJean was on crutches back at Shea Stadium and later in a heavy boot cast.

In 17 appearances for the Mets, DeJean fashioned a 1.69 ERA, collecting 24 strikeouts in 21-1/3 innings. It was quite a departure from his American League numbers with the Orioles, which turned up an ugly 6.13 ERA and an 0-5 record in 37 games.

DeJean was the last Met to file for free agency. The Mets are expected to explore new contracts with DeJean and fellow free agents Al Leiter, Kris Benson, Ricky Bottalico and Richard Hidalgo.

John Franco, who is also a free agent, will not be back with the Mets in 2005 as a player. However, he remains on a short list of candidates for the vacant bench coach position, if he should decide that his pitching days are over.

A new assistant for Omar: According to a published report Monday, the Mets have hired Arizona Diamondbacks assistant general manager Sandy Johnson to work in the same position under Omar Minaya.

Additionally, Newsday reported that the Mets are also looking into hiring former major leaguer Tony Bernazard in an official capacity. The team has also secured permission to interview Colorado Rockies coach Sandy Alomar, Sr. for the bench coach position.

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