Mets Notebook: Splish splash Shea

NEW YORK -- Rain continued to hammer the New York metropolitan area in the hours leading up to Wednesday's scheduled start time, and forecasts did not appear to be promising.

Mets manager Willie Randolph said he would not discuss contingency plans or re-arrange his pitching rotation in the event Wednesday's game was rained out.

John Maine, the Mets' scheduled starter for Game 2, said he likewise hadn't considered the chances of his start being moved forward, but the rookie did say he felt less nervous than he did in preparation for his NLDS Game 1 start against Los Angeles.

"I was nervous [then], and you still get some butterflies now," Maine said. "But I saw what the playoff atmosphere was like and I know what to expect now. It gets crazier and crazier the farther you go."

SAD DAY: Just hours before they were scheduled to play Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, the Mets were unsettled by the news of Cory Lidle's death in a Manhattan plane crash.

The Yankees' right-hander, a seven-year major league veteran, pitched for the Mets in 1997. He had many former teammates in the Mets' clubhouse, including Chad Bradford, Carlos Delgado and Billy Wagner.

"It's horrific," said pitching coach Rick Peterson, who worked with Lidle in Oakland. "I wish I had words. I have no words. I just have very strong emotions and it's just sadder than sad."

Peterson said he was bringing starting pitcher Tom Glavine the Cardinals' lineup card, going over final preparations before Wednesday's start, when news of Lidle's fate reached the Mets clubhouse.

"You just feel like your soul is bruised now," Peterson said.

Players huddled around television sets in the clubhouse to watch coverage of the plane crash, which dominated New York stations as flames poured from the Upper East Side apartment building. Peterson said he believed Mets coach Manny Acta also lived in the same apartment.

"I think everybody in baseball is affected in some way," Cliff Floyd said. "It's a tragedy, an accident, and our prayers go out to his family. These types of situations, you just never know."

ON THE TEAM, AND IN THE LINEUP: Mets manager Willie Randolph decided to go all the way with limping outfielder Cliff Floyd, not only allowing him to be on the 25-man roster for the NLCS, but starting him in left field in Game 1.

"It's playoff time, man," Randolph said. "Everybody wants to play. He said he felt pretty good and I was happy to hear that."

Floyd tested his injured left Achilles in Tuesday's workout at Shea Stadium, hours after saying he wasn't confident in how it might hold up. But the results were enough, and Floyd played a part in talking his way into action.

"I told him how I felt, and that's the one thing trainers and I talked about, letting him know what you can get," Floyd said. "I told him I'd love to be on the roster of this team. I feel pretty good. I don't feel great."

FIRE AWAY: Darryl Strawberry joked that he wasn't sure how much his left arm would have left, but chances are he'll have about 60 feet and six inches left. Strawberry is slated to throw out the first pitch of the NLCS, weather permitting.

Strawberry has been welcomed back to the Mets organization with open arms. He was the centerpiece of their 1986 celebration in August, and served as a spring training instructor, tutoring young players like Lastings Milledge and Jose Reyes.

"It means more to me than anybody can imagine," Strawberry said. "I know, truly, in my heart when I stepped on the field here, I laid my heart out on the plate, played the game the way the game is supposed to be played."

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