Inside Pitch: Mets to skip El Duque

With a comfortable lead and their rotation already in flux, the Mets aren't taking any chances. They scratched Orlando Hernandez from Friday's start against Philadelphia, and he will be replaced by Brian Bannister, who was reinstated from the disabled list after Thursday night's 6-2 victory over St. Louis.

To make room on the roster for Bannister, outfielder Lastings Milledge was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. Milledge will return to the Mets when the rosters are expanded Sept. 1.

Hernandez underwent shoulder surgery in 2003. He went on the disabled list once in 2004 and twice last year with shoulder problems, and the 24 starts he's made this season are his most since 2000 while with the Yankees.

"My arm is a little tired. I haven't pitched this much in a while," Hernandez said. "I'm feeling great (meaning there's no injury), but I'm a little tired. I think it's a good time."

Bannister, who had been out since April with a torn hamstring, said he's ready to return.

"I've made six (rehab) starts and feel confident about my legs," Bannister said. "I have my rhythm and release point back."

The Mets will now decide between left-handers Oliver Perez and Darren Oliver for Saturday.

REPLAY: Shawn Green delivered a RBI single in his Mets debut, leading New York to a 6-2 victory over the Cardinals on Thursday. Green finished 1-for-3 with a walk.

While Green was the headliner, the key to the evening was left-hander Dave Williams, who gave up two runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings.

"Williams gave us a good game," catcher Paul Lo Duca said. "He mixed his pitches and worked quickly."

Williams has pitched two solid games since coming up from Triple-A Norfolk, and with Orlando Hernandez pushed back over the weekend due to a tired arm, he could be a viable option should the Mets need to rest Hernandez further.


  • RHP Orlando Hernandez was scratched from Friday's start against Philadelphia because of a tired arm. He was replaced by RHP Brian Bannister, who was reinstated from the disabled list to make the start. Hernandez complained of being tired, both in his arm and body. He has made 24 starts this season, his most since 2000. Hernandez missed the 2003 season with rotator cuff surgery and went on the disabled list once in 2004 and twice last season with shoulder problems.

  • OF Lastings Milledge was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after Thursday night's 6-2 victory over St. Louis to make room for RHP Brian Bannister, who was reinstated from the disabled list to start Friday's game against Philadelphia. Manager Willie Randolph said Milledge would be reinstated when the rosters are expanded Sept. 1.

  • LHP Tom Glavine plans to throw Friday, which could determine when he appears in a game. Glavine will miss two starts because of a condition that caused coldness and numbness in his left middle finger. If Glavine is cleared, he could rejoin the rotation early next week at Colorado.

  • RF Shawn Green made his Mets debut Thursday night, going 1-for-3 against St. Louis. Green hit sixth in the order. "He has to hit somewhere," manager Willie Randolph said. "He's there for all the usual things. It's a nice spot for him." In particular, Randolph likes a left-handed hitter to offer protection for right-handed-hitting 3B David Wright, who will be sandwiched between left-handed-hitting 1B Carlos Delgado and Green. Green's power has declined over the past four seasons, but as a line-drive, contact hitter, he should get a lot of RBI opportunities. He capitalized on such an opportunity with a RBI single to left in the third inning.

  • C Ramon Castro, recovering from a sore left ribcage muscle and knee surgery to repair a torn medial meniscus, was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Castro is eligible to be reinstated Sept. 25, and would be eligible for the postseason roster. The Mets have Mike DiFelice as Paul Lo Duca's backup. There is not a set rest schedule for Lo Duca. The Mets also bolstered their catching Thursday when they signed free agent Kelly Stinnett to a minor league deal and assigned him to Triple-A Norfolk.

  • LF Cliff Floyd, on the disabled list with a sore Achilles tendon, is now taking batting practice, which means getting in rehab games in Florida can't be far behind. Manager Willie Randolph said there's no definitive timetable for Floyd's return, but said he thought it would be after Sept. 1 when rosters can be expanded.

  • 2B Jose Valentin returned to the lineup after missing five games with a sore right hamstring. With Thursday's game delayed by rain, Valentin thought he might get scratched.

  • OF Ricky Ledee was designated for assignment Thursday to make room on the roster for RF Shawn Green. With the addition of Green in right, Ledee wasn't going to get much playing time. If there's no interest in Ledee, he could accept an assignment to Triple-A Norfolk and return to the Mets when the rosters are expanded Sept. 1.

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