Trachsel's long wait paying off

NEW YORK – From the moment he first set his bags in the New York Mets clubhouse, this was the atmosphere Steve Trachsel envisioned. October baseball, playoff excitement, a swelled Shea Stadium and each one of his deliberate pitches taking on added importance.

Trachsel just wouldn't have imagined that it would take five years to get to this point. The longest-tenured of the current Mets, the veteran right-hander has outlasted all members of the last World Series team to play at Shea Stadium.

He's hoping he'll be able to stand at attention down the first base line next week, a member of what would be the Mets' fifth Fall Classic entry.

"It's kind of like, about time," Trachsel grins. "When I first came to New York, they had just been to the World Series in 2000 and that's the main reason I wanted to come here, and I expected to be in the post-season a number of times already. You know, unfortunately it never happened, but that's why I'm trying to really enjoy this one as much as possible."

The Mets' scheduled starter for Game 3 of the NL Championship Series Thursday at St. Louis, Trachsel tied with Tom Glavine for the team lead in victories this season, going 15-8 with a 4.97 ERA.

His starts weren't always the prettiest, and Trachsel needed some of the majors' best run support to get there – Trachsel allowed six earned runs or more in four starts, yet earned a victory and a no-decision in two of those – but Trachsel was a reliable mainstay in a rotation that lost some of its flashier contributors at times.

Trachsel made 30 starts for New York in 2006, the third time in the last four years he has reached that plateau. The only exception was last season, when Trachsel was limited to just six outings by back surgery.

"It was a good season," Trachsel said. "(From) spring training, we were concentrating on post-season and going as far as we could and that's what we talked about the very first week. So our entire team has been focused on that. We've had injuries all over the place, not just the starting pitching staff. This team has come up big picking each other up when those injuries have happened."

The same might not have been said of some of Trachsel's previous Mets clubs. He's been there for some of the worst of it – Mo Vaughn, Roger Cedeno, Roberto Alomar, and a series of other performers Mets fans would rather forget.

In Trachsel's first game for the Mets on April 7, 2001, he faced a franchise that has since relocated – the Montreal Expos – and teamed with Todd Pratt, his outfield defense handled by Benny Agbayani, Tsuyoshi Shinjo and Timo Perez.

As any fan who watched those teams would tell you, it has been a long wait indeed. But it was worth it, Trachsel said, because the 2006 Mets are the best yet.

"I think talent-wise, we've always gotten better each year," Trachsel said. "There's a definite relaxation that this team has that other teams haven't, especially in the clubhouse. I can't say if that's the reason for our success, but we go out there and we keep it simple.

"If we get blown out, we're able to forget that pretty easily and just concentrate on the next day. Everybody's goal is just to pick up the guy ahead of them if they don't get the job done. … We seem extremely relaxed for what we're going through right now."

If those relaxed Mets rattle off three more victories against their St. Louis foes, Trachsel will finally have the chance to say he made it to a World Series as a Met, cognizant of the fact that – as a free agent after the season - his time in New York may have expired.

If so, it's not a bad way to go out. But Trachsel spoke openly about having developed a good relationship and line of communication this year with Randolph, and said his association with the Mets will hopefully continue for years to come.

"I just kind of block that out," Trachsel said. "(I) just try to keep it simple and focus on the lineup that I'm given to face. When it's all said and done, the season's over, however it works for us, then, you know, (I'll) think about all of those other things."

Contact Inside Pitch's Bryan Hoch at

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