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
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.