El Duque likely out for postseason

NEW YORK – If the Mets are going to get to the World Series, chances are they'll do it without Orlando Hernandez.

An MRI taken on the 40-year-old righthander's right calf revealed a Grade 2 proximal gastric tear, following an injury suffered while running in the Shea Stadium outfield on Tuesday.

Not only will Hernandez not start in the National League Division Series, which opens Wednesday with rookie John Maine pitching in "El Duque's" place, but Mets manager Willie Randolph said it would be unlikely Hernandez could even be available for a potential NL Championship Series against the San Diego Padres or St. Louis Cardinals.

"We're going to hold out that when we get to the World Series, he'll be able to help us," Randolph said. "He loads up on that back leg, so I could see it would be kind of tough for him to gather himself and push off like he wants to."

Randolph said that Hernandez was with the Mets at Shea Stadium, receiving treatment on the right calf.

The veteran is moving slowly with a boot guarding his foot, and Randolph described El Duque's spirits as "distraught" and feeling as though he let the Mets down.

"El Duque's always been a warrior, a guy who takes full responsibility of taking the ball and being accountable at this time of year," Randolph said. "You can just see the last month or so he's kind of worked way into this point in the season. It's almost like he knew he'd be the one."

Except, now, he won't be. The Mets' hopes fall largely on the postseason debut of the 25-year-old Maine, a right-hander acquired over the winter from the Baltimore Orioles. Randolph said the situation was "really bizarre."

"Here's one of the hardest workers on the team [in Hernandez], regardless of how old you might think he is," Randolph said. "No one lifts as many weights or runs as hard as he does. To get injured running in the outfield before a game is just really bizarre."

Beyond Maine and Game 2 starter Tom Glavine, Randolph outlined that Steve Trachsel and Oliver Perez will start Games 3 and 4, although not necessarily in that order.

Trachsel returned from a family situation in Phoenix on Tuesday and threw a bullpen session, while Randolph said Perez's sometimes-electric repertoire played a part in his selection over other candidates such as Dave Williams or Brian Bannister.

"He's the best of what we have right now," Randolph said, "and that's good enough."

Lefty left waiting: The Mets never seriously considered starting Tom Glavine on three days rest Wednesday, although the left-hander did volunteer his services.

Leaving Shea Stadium Tuesday, Glavine said he poked his head into Randolph's office, telling the manager he would start Game 1 if necessary, and to call him at home if he was to be tabbed.

Eventually, after Hernandez's MRI results came back, a call was made to Glavine, but no start would be necessary. Maine was an obvious choice, Randolph said, because he would be starting closer to his usual rest timetable.

"I think they made the right decision," Glavine said. "If you bump me up now, now you're pitching me on a day's early rest and compromising Game 1, and now you're compromising Game 2."

Glavine said he felt some more pressure with the absences of Pedro Martinez and now Hernandez, but not enough to make him alter his mound demeanor.

"It's not going to be John Maine or myself or, you know, one or two guys," Glavine said. "Everybody is going to have to step up and try and pick up the slack and make the loss of those guys have less of an effect than it otherwise would."

Fire away: The first pitches of Wednesday's Game 1 will be fired from a pair of representatives of the '69 and '86 championship clubs – Jerry Koosman and Mookie Wilson. Grammy award-winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis will perform the National Anthem.

Scouting report: Dodgers pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo, who is scheduled to oppose the Mets in Game 2, on his repertoire: "I throw the fastball, the slider, changeup, everything. [As a reliever,] I don't have a chance to throw my changeup more. But as a starter, I can miss a little bit, maybe throw some changeups, some curveballs. It's not my best pitch, but I've got to throw it and mix it up."

And on the Mets' lineup: "Tough. [I have to] just go out there and do the best I can."

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