The expected recall of Lastings Milledge for tonight’s second half opener accompanied the unexpected release of Julio Franco 23, the Mets’ elderly pinch hitter. It’s not like Franco had earned his slot this season, it’s just that, as with the pending Henderson story, the Mets tend to have more tolerance for struggles with track-record holding veterans and figureheads as they’ve shown recently. I guess this is life in the Omar Era. Milledge by the way returned wearing No. 44and in possession of the same nice swing he first impressed with a year ago during Spring Training. This phrase has been uttered an aweful lot this season but perhaps that’s just the spark we need.
Speaking of sparks, Jose Valentin 22 was wearing a cast on his pinky and couldn’t play tonight, allowing Ruben Gotay 6 to further his case as the best option at the keystone. Mets officials say the injury came as the result of intervening in “an altercation” while The Internet appears to believe he broke it in a punching a wall. Let’s call it a Wall-tercation and perhaps, a karmic comeuppance for Valentin who a year ago was the guy the stealing the starting second base job from an underperforming and injured incumbent.
The Henderson story by the way appeared to have leaked sooner than the Mets would have liked. (Willie Randolph in fact appeared perturbed it leaked at all). Today team officials confirmed something was up but wouldn’t release details. It appears possible that Howard Johnson 52 will become batting coach while Henderson assumes HJojo’s role as first base coach. We should know Friday.