Full credit to Mets P Tom Glavine on not ducking the Atlanta Braves this time around.
OK, the game doesn’t mean anything, but Glavine’s scoreless 3 innings of work this afternoon was nothing if not encouraging. Just two more weeks until he can start picking and choosing who to pitch against.
After Willie Randolph indicated that Andres Galarraga had slim chances of making the team, the Big Cat homered on back-to-back days over the weekend, raising his average to .192. That doesn’t figure to protect Galarraga, whose roster spot probably will go to an extra pitcher. That need is more pressing with Kaz Ishii replacing innings-eater Steve Trachsel in the rotation. Miguel Cairo, Chris Woodward, Marlon Anderson and Eric Valent – who all figure to make the team – have played a combined 47 games at first, enough coverage in the event Doug Mientkiewicz is not available. Still, the Mets could use a righty bat with pop off the bench like an in-his-prime Galarraga would provide.
Felix Heredia’s $2 million contract (and the extra million shipped to the Yankees to cover Mike Stanton’s $4 million salary) means he’s a near-lock. South Korean Dae-Sung Koo (above, 4.05 ERA this spring), who has a split contract that means he can be sent to Triple-A Norfolk at reduced cost, doesn’t have the same assurance. Though Koo turned in two scoreless innings Saturday, he has been outpitched by Mike Matthews (1.13 ERA) this spring. Matthews went 2-1 with a 6.30 ERA in 35 appearances for the Reds last season, so he figures to get the ticket to Flushing.
After Braden Looper and Mike DeJean, there are no locks for the other three spots, though Heath Bell (no earned runs in eight innings) seems the safest bet. Matt Ginter – who hasn’t allowed an earned run in 11 innings, and who likely would be lost on waivers if he didn’t make the team – helped his chances of claiming a spot with four scoreless innings Sunday against the Orioles. That could leave Roberto Hernandez (five scoreless innings) and Scott Strickland (3.00 ERA) going head-to-head for the final spot, with Manny Aybar (2.35 ERA) seemingly lagging.
Strickland is returning from June 2003 Tommy John elbow surgery and has yet to pitch on back-to-back days. He has an out in his contract if he doesn’t make the big-league team and may need to exercise it if the 40-year-old Hernandez can sustain his success. Bartolome Fortunato (1.80 ERA) can be sent to the minors without passing through waivers – like Bell, Jae Seo and Aaron Heilman – seemingly the deciding factor against him