The New York Daily News’ Adam Rubin reports the abundance of potential starters for the Mets became slightly less, uh, abundant, with the release of Alay Soler.

Soler, pitching in relief of Chan Ho Park yesterday, allowed two runs on three hits, including a Ryan Zimmerman homer, in 1-2/3 innings against the Nationals to lift his spring ERA to 8.22.

The Mets originally signed Soler, 27, to a $2.8 million contract in August 2004 after he fled Cuba. But Soler had visa difficulties. He also had major trouble with an agent, who was eventually suspended by the Players Association for withholding documents while trying to get an exorbitant cut of the deal.

Soler couldn’t even enter the U.S. for the ’05 season.

He pitched 45 innings for the Mets last year. His highlights came in June, when he picked up his first major-league win by limiting the Dodgers to one run in seven innings. He then tossed a two-hit shutout five days later in Arizona. He went 2-3 with a 6.00 ERA.

The Mets are leading Cleveland, 5-2 thru 6 innings, and the Shawn Green/Lastings Milledge battle for right-field might be one of the more interesting storylines over the next two weeks. The former homered off C.C. Sabathia in the 2nd inning, while the latter is 1 for 2 (raising his average to .355) with a stolen base.

Ominous words from’s Tim Brown in observing Eric Gagne’s spring debut for the Rangers yesterday ;

He threw 11 pitches to the bottom of the Brewers’ numerical roster and then said, “It’s the best I’ve felt in the last two years.” It’s the kind of thing he’s said for a while now, usually in the hours before something really terrible happens.