That’s former Mets prospect Alan Zinter on the cover of today’s Austin Chronicle, the subject of Kevin Brass’ profile entitled “The Real Crash Davis : The Express’ Alan Zinter Works For One More Chance At The Show”.

If Zinter has a hero right now, it’s Julio Franco. At something like 47, Franco is a valuable role player for the contending Mets, helping the team as a pinch hitter. If Franco can do it, why not me? Zinter asks.He can still jack the ball. In June, in a rare start against Oklahoma, he hit two home runs “ one from each side of the plate. But that was followed by a long stretch of games without getting a single at-bat. Or he was called on to pinch-hit, only to strike out and fail. That’s baseball. At the end of July, he was hitting .248 with nine home runs.

“He has certainly shown this year that he can be that bat off the bench,” said Gottfried, the Astros’ senior director of baseball operations. In September, big-league rosters are expanded and additional players are called up, but there are no guarantees. “It’s just day-to-day,” Gottfried said. Injuries, trades, slumps “ the situation can change quickly. “Right now his chances are as good as anyone else’s,” Gottfried said.

While I wish Zinter nothing but the best, the following oughta be stressed :

a) when and if the Astros summon a player from their Round Rock taxi squad, it will most likely be a player who has spent more time this season actually playing as opposed to coaching first base.  There’s been no shortage of player movement between Round Rock and Houston.  That Zinter has yet to appear in an Astros uniform this season is no accident.

b) it’s time for Joe McEwing to fire his publicist.