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Monday, April 11, 2011
Mets morning briefing 4.11.11

By Adam Rubin

Jason Isringhausen -- who last threw a pitch for the Mets on July 31, 1999, after which he was traded to Oakland with Greg McMichael for Billy Taylor -- returns to Flushing on Monday. So does Ryota Igarashi, as the Mets temporarily go with 13 pitchers until Jason Bay is ready to return from the disabled list, likely next weekend in Atlanta. The NL West-leading Rockies, who took three of four games at Pittsburgh, are in town. Read the series preview here.

Monday's news reports:

Sandy Alderson called the new additions "The Izzy and Iggy Show." Catchy name. But remember, these are the guys who were beaten out for bullpen spots in spring training. Actually, in the case of Isringhausen, he pitched fine in spring training. The concern was more about whether he would last a season. And the Mets did not want to place him on the Opening Day roster over Blaine Boyer, and risk losing Boyer, who had an out in his contract on the eve of the regular season. Isringhausen has spent the past 10 days in Port St. Lucie in extended spring training. Alderson mentioned one day that a back issue had cropped up, but Isringhausen quickly minimized it.

Lucas Duda was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo and Boyer was designated for assignment Sunday to make roster room.

Being designated for assignment buys the Mets up to a week to see if there is any trade interest before having to place Boyer on waivers. Because Boyer cleared waivers and was outrighted to the minors last season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, he can declare free agency rather than report to Triple-A Buffalo this time if he again goes unclaimed.

In Igarashi's case, he went unclaimed during the winter because of his $1.75 million salary when the Mets took him off the 40-man roster. This time, if the Mets want to keep him on the 40-man roster, they can simply option him to Buffalo when Bay is ready. Or, they can put him through waivers again with the hope of shedding the remainder of the salary -- either through a team claiming Igarashi (unlikely), or him declaring free agency if he clears and electing to walk away from the remaining amount owed.

"It’s unfortunate," Boyer said to the Record's J.P. Pelzman. “I’ve been in this position before and I’ve landed on my feet. I’ll be all right.”

The financial risk with Isringhausen actually is minimal. His salary only calls for him to make $500,000 if he is at the major league level the entire season. He receives only a prorated portion for the time he is with the major league team. That's because his contract includes a stipulation that he waives the right to refuse going to the minors (and his salary being diminished to minor league dollars). Of course, Isringhausen isn't going back to the minors, but the contract gets the Mets out of paying the full major league salary. The complication is that getting out of the salary is possible with ineffectiveness, not if Isringhausen were to land on the DL.

The Mets' bullpen has logged 34 1/3 innings -- which ranks second in the NL, only one out less than the Pirates' relief workload. So the Mets needed fresh arms.

Read more on the roster maneuvers in Newsday and the Post.

Of course, the Mets' bullpen -- with some help from Duda's inexperience in right field in misplaying Ivan Rodriguez's fly ball into a double -- wasted Chris Young's one-hit gem over seven innings Sunday and the Mets lost to the rubber game to the Washington Nationals, 7-3 in 11 innings. "It should have been an out," Duda told reporters afterward. "I just took a bad route and I got beat. I take full responsibility for that. I feel like it kind of cost us the game."

Read game reports in Newsday, the Times, Post, Star-Ledger, Daily News and Journal.

• After suggesting he used too many of his secondary pitches in a letdown in Philadelphia (7 R, 6 ER, 2 IP) his last start, Mike Pelfrey says he's going back to his bread-and-butter pitches against the Rockies on Monday night. "I know I need to be better, but I'm still going to do what's worked for me in the past," Pelfrey told the Post's Dan Martin. "I just have to rely on my fastball and splitter, which I didn't do the first two times out. ... I got away from my fastball for some reason and didn't throw the splitter enough. I got away from what has made me successful. I know I need to be better than I have been, and there's no better time than [tonight]."

Brian Costa of The Wall Street Journal looks at Jose Reyes' on-base percentage. While Reyes is hitting .333, he has only one walk, which translates into a .349 OBP. "Without a strong on-base percentage, he can't use the rest of his talents, which are so game-changing," Alderson tells Costa. "Whether he hits .350 with a .380 on-base percentage or he hits .280 with a .380 on-base percentage, it's all about getting on base." Says Reyes: "The thing that I have to do is try to swing at better pitches. Sometimes, don't get too excited about a ball outside of the strike zone. Just look for my pitch and if I get it, try to put a good swing on the ball. It's easy to say, but it's hard to do it."

• Post columnist Kevin Kernan takes a low blow. He writes:

Ollie Perez couldn't have done worse. The first real test for Sandy Alderson & Co. was to try to rebuild the middle of the Mets bullpen over the winter. So far, that reconstruction has been a complete disaster. The Chris Young signing looks like a stroke of genius, but the bullpen at Terry Collins' disposal is a lost cause right now.

Rockies first baseman Todd Helton is day-to-day with lower back trouble, but reports improvement, according to the Denver Post's Jim Armstrong. Colorado beat the Pirates on Sunday and is off to a 6-2 start.

 

BIRTHDAYS: Bret Saberhagen and Wally Whitehurst turn 47. ... Bobby M. Jones was born on this date in 1972 in Orange, N.J. ... Trot Nixon, whose major league career ended with the Mets in 2008, turns 37.