Mets report: Glavine flies under the radar

<A HREF=[PlayerNode:1656735]>Tom Glavine</A>'s final spring training appearance took place on one of the practice fields in the back of the team complex in Florida. Only a small handful of team officials and fans sat in the metal bleachers to watch.

Glavine didn't have to stop to talk to reporters when he was done pitching because none were there. He hopped in a golf cart, zipped to the empty clubhouse and had a bag of ice strapped to his left shoulder.

It was a successful outing. Glavine threw 58 pitches over four innings, allowing two hits and one earned run. He struck out six without a walk. The 39-year-old left-hander has had a terrific spring, the best he can remember in years.

Even if few have bothered to notice.

"I've been under the radar," Glavine said. "I just came in, did my thing and nobody noticed me. But that was a good thing."

Glavine was squarely in the spotlight in 2003 when he joined the Mets after 16 seasons with the Atlanta Braves. He was on the cover of the media guide, the subject of magazine stories and spoke to reporters nearly every day.

Now the photo sessions and interviews fall to Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran. Glavine is the past; they are the future.

"This is a place where you have new additions get a lot of attention. Every dog has his day here, so to speak, and my day was a couple of years ago," Glavine said.

When Glavine looks around the clubhouse now, the only teammates who were part of the 2003 team are Cliff Floyd, Mike Piazza and Jose Reyes.

His pal Steve Trachsel is on the disabled list and may not be back until July. John Franco and Al Leiter, who helped convince Glavine to sign with the Mets, were tossed out the door by general manager Omar Minaya.

Glavine enters the season 38 wins short of 300 for his career. He had hoped to reach that plateau in 2006 then retire. But shoddy relief pitching, defense and run support has cost Glavine at least 14 victories over the last two seasons.

"I haven't given up on that. It might take me a year longer than I hoped but who knows?" he said. "I came here because I felt this was an organization that would address its needs and try and get in the playoffs and we've certainly done that. That will go a long way toward my personal goals."

PRIMED FOR A BIG SEASON: OF Carlos Beltran had a terrific spring training and seems primed for his New York debut. The five-tool center fielder has handled the media with aplomb to this point and seems unfazed by the pressure of his $119 million contract. "This is the time for me," he said. "I'm ready."

ON THE DECLINE: C Mike Piazza turns 37 in September, is in the final year of his contract and hasn't driven in 100 runs since 2000. Once one of the best right-hander hitters in the game, Piazza hit .266 last season and played only 129 games because of knee problems. After an ill-advised experiment of using him at first base, Piazza will again be a full-time catcher. But that could lead to more injuries.

NOTES, QUOTES

  • OF Mike Cameron flew to New York on Saturday for an MRI after experiencing pain in his left wrist. It proved to be tendinitis unrelated to the surgery he had in December. "It's really good news," assistant general manager John Ricco said yesterday. Cameron is not expected to be placed on the disabled list. He is taking anti-inflammatory medication. "It's a day-to-day injury, it will depend how he feels," Ricco said.

  • RHP Manny Aybar, C Ramon Castro and RHP Roberto Hernandez had their contracts purchased. All three made the team as non-roster spring invitees.

  • RHP Matt Ginter was traded to the Tigers for LHP Steve Colyer. Ginter had a terrific spring, not allowing an earned run in 14 innings. But the Mets did not keep him in their bullpen. With Ginter out of minor-league options, the only alternatives were to keep him or trade him. Colyer, 26, appeared in 41 games last season. He was 1-0 with a 6.47 ERA. He allowed 33 hits and walked 24 in 32 innings. He was assigned to Triple-A Norfolk.

  • RHPs Steve Trachsel (back surgery) and Tyler Yates (shoulder surgery) were placed on the 60-day disabled list. Yates will miss the entire season but Trachsel could return in July or August.

  • C Kelly Stinnett, whom the Mets signed on March 29, was released on Friday because of an injured right shoulder. The Mets signed veteran journeyman Mike DiFelice to take his place for Class AAA Norfolk.

  • INF Wilson Valdez had a brief tenure with the Mets. He was claimed on waivers from the White Sox on Tuesday, played in one game then was waived on Friday. The Seattle Mariners claimed Valdez this time.

  • RHP Aaron Heilman, a former first-round pick who has been a bust to this point, pitched three scoreless innings on Wednesday. He has changed the mechanics of his delivery, going back to the across-the-body style that served him well at Notre Dame. Heilman is expected to start the season at Triple-A Norfolk after being optioned on Thursday.

  • C Mike DiFelice, who was released by the Marlins, has signed a minor league contract. The Mets have added a number of veteran catchers in recent days, signing DiFelice, Kelly Stinnett and Fernando Lunar.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 7 -- Numbers of players on the Opening Day roster this season who were on the Opening Day roster last season.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "Willie is going to be a cold-blooded manager, very quiet. You can barely notice him. He's like Joe Torre. I'm just out there to do my job and let Willie do his. He's got my support in whatever he does." -- RHP Pedro Martinez on manager Willie Randolph.

    ROSTER REPORT

    The Mets have turned their roster over and could start the season with 16 players who weren't on the roster to start the 2004 season. GM Omar Minaya has made the Mets deeper, faster and slightly more powerful. Having Carlos Beltran hitting third and playing center is a significant upgrade.

    ROTATION:

    1. Pedro Martinez
    2. Tom Glavine
    3. Kris Benson
    4. Victor Zambrano
    5. Kaz Ishii

    The Mets have genuine aces atop the rotation in Martinez and Glavine. Benson, a career underachiever, pitched well in spring training and seems to have benefited from working with pitching coach Rick Peterson. The question marks are Zambrano and Ishii. Both have great stuff but career-long control problems. Getting them fixed will be Peterson's greatest challenge.

    BULLPEN:

    RHP Braden Looper (closer)
    RHP Mike DeJean
    LHP Felix Heredia
    LHP Dae-Sung Koo
    RHP Roberto Hernandez
    RHP Manny Aybar
    LHP Mike Matthews

    Here is the weakest link of the team, by far. Looper was a solid closer last season and seems to be getting better. He's not a traditional power closer but gets plenty of groundballs. The primary set-up men are DeJean and Heredia, who were huge failures with the Orioles and Yankees, respectively, last season. The Mets have high hopes for. Koo, a 34-year-old South Korean, has a deceptive motion and is tough on left-handed hitters. Aybar, Matthews and Hernandez are veterans who made the team on non-roster spring invitations.

    LINEUP:

    1. SS Jose Reyes
    2. 2B Kazuo Matsui
    3. CF Carlos Beltran
    4. C Mike Piazza
    5. LF Cliff Floyd
    6. 1B Doug Mientkiewicz
    7. 3B David Wright
    8. RF Mike Cameron

    There was no competition for any of these spots. Cameron came to camp following wrist surgery but worked his way back. Reyes played second base and Matsui shortstop last season but both are now in positions that suit them better. Mientkiewicz is an on-base specialist and Wright, 22, may be the best position player the Mets have developed since Darryl Strawberry. RESERVES:

    C Ramon Castro
    INF Miguel Cairo
    INF Chris Woodward
    OF Eric Valent
    INF/OF Marlon Anderson

    The bench is much deeper and talented then the amalgamation of rookies and washed-up types the Mets had last season. Valent is a talented lefty hitter and Cairo can play any infield position well. He started at second base for the Yankees last season. Castro is a strong defensive catcher.

    ROOKIE WATCH: The Mets don't have a rookie on their Opening Day roster unless you count Koo, a 34-year-old South Korean with vast professional experience. But RHP Heath Bell could prove to be a significant find once he returns from Triple-A Norfolk. The 28-year-old career minor leaguer lost weight during the winter by rollerblading eight miles to the team complex in Florida to work out and was lights out in spring training.

    MEDICAL WATCH: RHP Steve Trachsel underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back on March 19 and will miss at least three months. 2B Kaz Matsui missed five days of spring training with a sore lower back and RHP Pedro Martinez skipped a start for the same reason. RHP Tyler Yates, who showed promise as a reliever, was lost for the season when he had shoulder surgery in February.


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