Inside Pitch: Heilman back to the pen?

Right-hander Aaron Heilman entered spring training penciled in as the Mets' fifth starter. It might be time to take out the eraser.

With the emergence of right-hander Brian Bannister, who has given up two runs in 14 innings, and with the team having obvious holes in the bullpen, Heilman could go back to the setup relief role in which he succeeded last year.

Manager Willie Randolph said the determining factor between Bannister and Heilman for the fifth spot -- he admitted Victor Zambrano would be the fourth starter -- would transcend numbers.

"It will be the makeup of how the staff looks together, starters and relievers," said Randolph, who listed Billy Wagner, Duaner Sanchez and Jorge Julio as the only givens out of the 'pen.

Heilman's 0.68 ERA after the All-Star break last year was the lowest among relievers with more than 30 innings.


  • RHP Pedro Martinez will throw in the bullpen, perhaps Tuesday or Wednesday, after which he hopes to pitch in an exhibition game this week, most likely Friday.

  • 1B Carlos Delgado, who had only one at-bat for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic because of tendinitis in his left elbow, said he would be ready by Opening Day.

  • SS Jose Reyes, who played for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, will be in the lineup Tuesday against Baltimore.

  • RHP Brian Bannister, who has given up two runs in 14 innings this spring, has a chance to make it as the fifth starter, which would send RHP Aaron Heilman to the bullpen.

  • Rickey Henderson, the all-time stolen base leader with 1,406, will be in camp for 10 days as a special instructor. The Mets are anxious for him to work with SS Jose Reyes.

  • RF Xavier Nady is hitting .366 with two homers and 11 RBIs this spring. His primary competition for the job, Victor Diaz, is batting .280 with two homers and seven RBIs.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 0.00 -- RHP Brian Bannister's ERA after his first three appearances.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "It will be good to get everybody back and get into a flow. We have two weeks to go. That's sufficient time to get it rolling." -- Mets manager Willie Randolph on getting the chance to field his complete lineup after two starting position players, a starting pitcher, two key relievers and two bench players return from the World Baseball Classic.

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