Piazza to catch for as long as he wants


Forget Mike Piazza moving to first base any time soon.

The Newark Star-Ledger reported New York Mets general manager Steve Phillips told the All-Star catcher last week that the club had no intention of asking him to switch positions for the foreseeable future.

Piazza was told that a switch would be made only if Piazza requested such a move. There had been recent newspaper reports saying the Mets planned to approach Piazza this off-season to discuss a move.

"He assured me they are not going to ask me to move this year or next year and that anything else would be my decision," Piazza told the newspaper. "Steve reassured me that there was no sort of leak by the front office to imply that a move was planned or that even a negotiation was imminent. He said it never entered into their thinking and there was nothing to the speculation and that reports that they were thinking about it were erroneous."

The Star-Ledger said friends of Piazza suspect he wants to hit 400 career home runs as a catcher. Through Saturday, 287 of his 301 career homers have come as a catcher.

Piazza could be in position to surpass Carlton Fisk's all-time catcher's home run record of 351 by the end of next season.

"In putting our team together, every time we take the field with Mike Piazza as our catcher, we have a great offensive differential," Phillips said.

Piazza said that he and Phillips are on the same page.

"I just think it's in the best interest of the team, and our first thoughts are about the team," Piazza said. "That's my opinion. The team is a better team with me behind the plate. Everybody keeps saying, 'Move him to first.' Well, what's the plan? Let's say they put me on first. What do you do then? Who catches? And all so I can play 15 more games a year?"