El Duque injured in Mets' workout

NEW YORK – Orlando Hernandez injured his right calf jogging in the outfield during the Mets' workout at Shea Stadium Tuesday, putting his postseason status in doubt.

Mets manager Willie Randolph said team doctors were optimistic that Hernandez could have just suffered a cramp, though a more serious injury seemed to be a strong possibility.

Hernandez was taken for an MRI, leaving his scheduled Game 1 start in the National League Division Series as questionable.

"They said he felt something; he was upset about it," Randolph said. "We're going to get him checked out. Obviously, we're up in the air on who's our starter tomorrow. We have some options obviously, but we'll wait and see."

Hernandez's injury follows that of ace Pedro Martinez, who had been discussed for weeks as the Mets' probable Game 1 starting pitcher for the National League Division Series.

Martinez made three poor September starts before learning he had tears in both his left calf and his right rotator cuff, potentially putting the three-time Cy Young Award winner out until the 2007 All-Star Break.

The veteran Hernandez was to quell any worries about losing Martinez, and early in the day, it seemed that way. Mets players were optimistic about Hernandez's undeniable postseason cache and experience, though that won't be much help if Hernandez is unable to take the ball.

"We don't know, so we don't want to get ahead of ourselves," Carlos Delgado said. "I mean, we all wish he is well and he can come back and start. If that's not the case, hopefully somebody will come in and step up."

In the event Hernandez is unable to pitch, the Mets have not named a probable starter, but rookie right-hander John Maine figures to be considered.

Maine – who was 6-5 with a 3.60 ERA in 16 games with New York – said the Mets have told him about the situation and to be ready in the event he is tabbed. Maine last started on Sept. 28 at Atlanta.

"It'd be awesome," Maine said. "I never would have thought that'd be a possibility, but if it comes to that, I'll be ready."

With Martinez's prolonged and repeated injuries fresh in mind, Mets players seemed optimistic that they could make the best of the current situation.

It was suggested that due to the recent rash of incidents, the Mets may even be viewed as underdogs in their series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, an unexpected twist for a team that polished off a 97-victory campaign with a weekend sweep at Washington.

"This isn't anything new," David Wright said. "We've been stepping up and guys have been collectively coming together as a unit all year."

Notes & Quotes

  • LF Cliff Floyd said the cortisone shot he took last week for his ailing left calf finally kicked in on Tuesday, boosting his confidence.

    "Maybe I'll steal a base or two," Floyd said. "You never know."

  • RHP Pedro Martinez is scheduled to undergo surgery on his right rotator cuff Thursday, GM Omar Minaya said. Martinez's status for attending the NLDS is yet unknown.

  • OF Carlos Beltran said his quadriceps muscle felt "a lot better" after Randolph gave the centerfielder extended rest. He continues to take anti-inflammatory medications to ward off tightness, but said he isn't thinking about the injury as he runs the bases or plays the field.

    "I was being cautious a little bit because when you come from an injury you don't want to aggravate it," Beltran said. "But now I'm not thinking about it."

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