Diaz optioned to Tides

NEW YORK – With Mike Cameron playing a red-hot right field, the inevitable finally happened Monday for Victor Diaz. The 23-year-old outfielder was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for starter Kaz Ishii.

The month of April belonged to Diaz, who batted .292 with three homers and 10 RBI in the season's first month, but playing time came sparingly after Cameron's return from the disabled list last week.

While Cameron has sizzled, batting .417 since his activation on May 5, Diaz played in just three of the Mets' last ten games through Monday's 9-2 win.

"He's going to go down and get some work in," manager Willie Randolph said. "We'll see how it plays out. He's fine. He understands."

Though Diaz publicly said he'd rather be a bench player on the major league roster than play everyday at Triple-A, the power-hitting prospect took the move in stride.

"I worked so hard [and] my dream is to be in the big leagues, but I need to play every day," Diaz said. "That's what Willie said. So I'll go down there and play, and see what happens."

The Mets will have Diaz play left field as well as right field for Norfolk, giving Diaz one more possible opportunity to crack into the lineup as a replacement for left fielder Cliff Floyd.

"I just hope his day in the league comes soon," Floyd said. "He's definitely a big league talent."

Diaz will be able to fine-tune his swing against Triple-A pitching, preparing for his return call to the big leagues – one that Diaz estimates could come as soon as 10 days from Monday, or as far off as a month.

"I understood it," Diaz said. "Everyone's off to a great start, and everyone's hitting. You can't really do much about that."

In another move, right-handed pitcher Robert Keppel was designated for assignment after Monday's game. The Mets needed to clear a space on the 40-man roster for catcher Mike DiFelice, who had his contract purchased from Norfolk earlier in the afternoon.

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