Brandon Knight is set to start for the Mets Saturday night as the replacement for Pedro Martinez, who was placed on the bereavement list following the death of his father. Knight, who will dress in No. 28, will have come a long way from the independent Atlantic League, where he began the year, and is six years removed from his last big-league appearance, with the Yankees in 2002. The limits of the bereavement list (maximum of 7 days) and the upcoming Olympics in Bejing, where Knight is scheduled to represent the US of A and manager Davey Johnson, figure to make this a brief visit, but let’s hope a successful oine. Sandy Alomar Jr. — as a player — most recently wore the 28 jersey,obtaining it in a swap for No. 19 with teammate Jeff Conine last season. (Can you believe either of those guys finished their careers as Mets?) The uni had previously belonged to stylish reliever Juan Padilla (goggles, magic tricks, invariably took off his hat at the end of an inning). Padilla, who’d been rehabbing various arm ailments since a promising showing in 2005, was quietly released by the organization this month.
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That same crappy feeling I got when Robin Ventura joined the Yankees returned tonight when I learned the Bombers had traded for Pittsburgh’s Xavier Nady. I don’t want to see the guy fail but playing up to his abilities in Yankee Stadium’s left field ought to be worth a few laughs before the season’s over, and I wouldn’t bet big on his continuing to run a 900+ OPS, even if I won’t actively root against it.
The Mets arrived in Denver tonight with journeyman righthander Jose Santiago wearing No. 33.Santiago was recalled from Norfolk Sunday when Heath Bell 19 was demoted and informed he needs to develop a change-up. No. 33 was issued earlier this year to backup catcher Mike DiFelice.
The Mets announced Friday that first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz 16 has returned from a rehab stint and that cobwebby pinch-hitter Brian Daubach 13 was returned to Norfolk. They also promoted Norfolk closer Juan Padilla and returned lefty Royce Ring 22 to the farm. Padilla comes to the Mets having had an excellent half-season at Norfolk and Ring’s demotion seems to suggest that infuriating starter Kaz Ishii 23 will get a look in the pen. Padilla was assigned No. 28, which for two years sat patiently awaiting the return of Scott Strickland.
The Mets yesterday announced that nine players had been signed to minor league contracts and been invited to Spring Training. They include ancient slugger Andres Galarraga, who will turn 44 this summer — younger than The Francos at least (thanks Paul). It’s possible that the Big Cat makes the team, perhaps as the righthanded swinging half of a first base platoon, but he won’t be wearing his familiar No. 14 here. That’s retired.
Rehabbing Met bullpen veterans Grant Roberts 36 (photo at right by David Whitham); Scott Strickland 28 and Orber Moreno 49 were also retained with minor league contracts, as was outfielder Gerald Williams 21. Bringing back Williams would seem more pointless than usual, but for the news that Mike Cameron 44 is having surgery and will likely miss the first month of the year.
Also joining the mix to spell Cameron will be speedy backup Kerry Robinson, notable here for the fact he used to wear No. 0 while with the Cardinals. (Former Expo Ron Calloway,signed to a Major League deal earlier this week, will also be in the outfield mix.Calloway woreNo. 22 in Montreal/San Juan).
Other signees include pitcher Juan Padilla, a minor league vet who’s had coffee with the Yankees and Reds; Luis Garcia, a first baseman-outfielder who hit 32 HRs last year in the rare air of the PCL with the Dodgers’ organization; catchers Andy Dominique, a chunky minor league vet who made his debut last year with the Red Sox while Varitek served a suspension for getting in A-Rod’s girlish grill; and Ramon Castro, the former Marlins backup fighting a rape charge. Along with the news the Mets had re-signed veteran catcher Vance Wilson 3 to a 2005 contract, it appears a deal or two involving Jason Phillips 23 or That Piazza Guy may happen sooner or later.
Finally, there’s Marlon Anderson, No. 8 on your old Cardinal and Phillie rosters, a utility backup in the mold of Desi Relaford.
These guys will all report when Spring Training begins in six long weeks or so. Till then,Happy Holidays!