Camp Report: Not a total washout

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Rainy skies changed the plan for Friday's workout at Mets camp, with a morning downpour forcing hitters to the cover of the batting cages. <P> With more rain in the forecast for the rest of the weekend, the Mets' spring camp will hit its first weather-related rough patch, although contingency plans helped salvage the day with cardio work and simulated batting practice sessions for pitchers.

"I don't really think it does [set us back] because the pitchers and catchers have been working their butts off," manager Willie Randolph said. "The infielders and outfielders have been working hard for a couple of days, so this was a nice easy day.

"I'd rather have it now. We got our work in, so I don't think it hurt us at all."

Most of the hitters performed soft-toss drills in the morning, while pitchers threw to the catchers with a non-swinging batter standing in against them. Among the most impressive hurlers were hard-throwing Felix Heredia and Bartolome Fortunato, both of whom have raised eyebrows as strong early contenders to go north with the club.

Good impression: Though he's planned to start the year at Class-A St. Lucie and progress to Double-A Binghamton when the weather warms, No. 1 draft pick Philip Humber has already earned high marks in Randolph's book.

"He's got a live arm," Randolph said of the former Rice University right-hander. "You see that arm strength, and you've got to like that. We're fortunate to have good young men. You talk to them a little bit and you know their parents did a good job. It's always nice to have talent, but it's important to have good character people as well."

Action on tap: The Mets plan on playing two intra-squad games at 11:30 a.m. on Monday and Tuesday. The pitchers for the games are as follows:

Monday - Steve Trachsel, Mike DeJean, Dae-Sung Koo, Bartolome Fortunato, Joe Nelson, Tim Hamulack, Matt Lindstrom, Bob Keppel, Juan Padilla, Blake McGinley, Yusmeiro Petit, Todd Van Poppel.

Tuesday – Victor Zambrano, Roberto Hernandez, Scott Strickland, Matt Ginter, Jae Seo, Manny Aybar, Philip Humber, Grant Roberts, Victor Campos.

Mets Misc. Doug Mientkiewicz does not plan on attending a get-together at the White House with President Bush and the rest of his former Boston Red Sox teammates. "I didn't go when I won a gold medal either," he said. "I've got work to do here." ... Those interested in buying season ticket plans for the Mets are invited to visit Shea Stadium on Saturday and take a tour, where they'll be allowed to take a photograph with members of the 1986 Mets and the World Series trophy. Single-game tickets go on sale Sunday at 11 a.m.

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