The inevitable has become a reality, as they say.
The Mets made it official, reserving July 9 for a pregame ceremony during which they will remove No. 17 from circulation to honor the World Champion first baseman, Gold Glove winner, New Yorker and broadcaster Keith Hernandez.
Those who’ve been around these parts know I’ve always been somewhat of a small-hall guy when it comes to uni number retirement. I’d prefer to see them hang 17 on the back of a young player who looks like he could become something, but when the alternative is Mike Bordick, Jose Lima and David Newhan, it’s best to just leave it be. The club started the momentum by taking 36 out on behalf of Jerry Koosman–a justifiable decision, for sure, but one that came too late to have the meaning it might.
Keith by contrast grew into the honor. His career in New York was simply too short and lacking in meaningful counting stats to justify it alone; further complicating matters was that his similarly short-tenured co-captain, Gary Carter, had similar issues despite arriving at the Hall of Fame. Talented and indispensable teammates from Strawberry to Wilson to Backman to Gooden, made an argument that the best decision would have been to simply remove 86 from the available inventory but that ship has sailed as well.
To me, Hernandez’s honor will be about changing the other club’s bunting strategies, about game-winning RBI’s and about properly aligned racing stripes, but also about post-career Seinfeld appearances and the company he offers those of us sitting at home.
And while the lockout seems certain to threaten a timely start to the 2022 season when and if it begins the Mets will carry a new number on the field with them–60, to mark the anniversary of the team’s first season. The patch looks appropriate if not especially handsome. Let’s hope the team is the other way around.
The Mets combat the Marlins this weekend with lots of new faces. Friday’s starter and loser, Jose Lima 17, was designated for assignment (again) following a regretful outing (again) Friday; his place will be taken by top draft pick Mike Pelfrey, who starts Saturday’s Game 2. Pelfrey wore No. 47 with Binghamton, but — this just in — is listed at No. 34 for his start today.The Mets have rarely had a 34 of great success, but it’s hardly been for a lack of trying: Pelfrey is the 30th Met to dress in those digits and the second this year — making 34 the 2nd most frequently issued jersey in Met history. While it may be too much to expect Pelfrey to carry on the legacy of Nolan Ryan (1966), we can hope his success exceeds that of, say, Blas Minor (1995-96) or Jorge Julio (2006). Good luck, Mike!
Pelfrey’s B-Met teammate, Henry Owens, wound up with the roster slot vacated when Pedro Martinez 45 made his mid-summer break official with a trip to the DL to rest an ailing hip (Heath Bell was initially recalled, but the retroactive dating of Petey’s DL stint prevented Bell’s activation). Wearing the No. 36 jersey last worn by Manny Aybar, Owens fired an impressive inning of mopup work in his big-league debut tonight.
Many thanks to Bob F for the scorecard scan (pictured at right) confirming Dan Frisella wearing No. 29 during his brief stay with the 1969 Mets. A few minor errors have in the meantime been corrected on the roster page: Sherman “Roadblock” Jones’ one appearance inNo. 28; Kevin Michell’s few weeks as No. 35, to name a few — thanks as always, Jason.
Xavier Nady 22 returned from the disabled list on June 18, and Cliff Floyd 30 went onto it, retroactive until June 7 with an ankle sprain. Floyd returned on June 30 as Lastings Milledge 44 returned to Norfolk. These moves came in the midst of a calamitous roadtrip that proved to chew up and ultimately spit out chubby Met hurlers Alay Soler 59 and Heath Bell 19. Soler was replaced July 3 by John Maine 33 — the next day, Bell was cashiered to Norfolk in exchange for designated clown Jose Lima 17. Seeing asPedro Martinez 45 is most likely vacationing through the All-Star Break it’s likely this week’s stretch of games leading to the break could feature Lima… or perhaps, studly young draftee Mike Pelfrey.
Updates over a busy few weeks — Cuban defectee Alay Soler makes his Major League debut tonight wearing No. 59. Soler was recalled after Omar Minaya designated a merciful end to the Jose Lima Experiment.Soler becomes only the second Met ever to wear No. 59, and the first since Ed Lynch made his Major League debut, in 1980.
Also today, the Mets traded struggling reliever Jorge Julio to Arizona for ancient ex-YankeeOrlando “El Duque” Hernandez. We assume El Duque will dress in his familiar No. 26 — currently available — when he arrives; until then, the team has recalled Norfolk yo-yo Heath Bell 19. This manuever may well serve to patch up the butt-end of a rotation sore with injuries, and Julio’s brief stay in Flushing won’t likely be missed, but it hardly makes the Kris Benson trade any less mysterious.
In between Lima’s whacking May 20 and Soler’s recall, the Mets enjoyed a phantom appearance from reliever Anderson Garcia, who wasn’t used and summarily returned to Norfolk. Rosters list Garcia as being assigned No. 58 but that hasn’t been eyewitnessed by us at least. Happy to hear from those who might confirm it.
On May 9, Heath Bell 19 was recalled as Fortunato was sent down. Days later, May 12, Bell was sent down as journeyman auditonee Jeremi Gonzalez was recalled. Gonzalez suited up in No. 32.
Well, John Maine didn’t last long as a Met, hitting the disabled list just days after his May 1 debut. His spot was grabbed by Bartolome Fortunato, back in No. 43 for the first time since 2004. Things got hairier on Saturday, when sadsack starter Victor Zambrano 38 walked off the field and into a season- and possibly, Met-career-ending elbow injury. Maine’s start, and Zambrano’s space on the roster, was covered, barely adequately, by clownish righthander Jose Lima, and with Bannister and Maine still missing, more changes are certain to come. Lima by the way became the 29th guy to wear No. 17 for the Mets — only No. 6 has been issued more often. (34 has also been worn by 29 guys)
Veteran longshot pitcher Jose Lima arrived at Met camp boasting that he never wears the same suit twice. Apparently he’s applying the same rules of fashion to his Met jerseys.
Lima on Saturday suited up No. 17, his third different Met jersey this spring. Lima, you will recall, was issued No. 99 and then spent an afternoon in 42 before the Mets thought better of reissuing the mothballed Jackie Robinson uni and gave him 99 back. In the meantime the Mets sold Dae Sung Koo back to Korea, freeing up 17, in which Lima appeared most recently. For a guy the Mets are likely to bid “auf wiedersehen” to in a matter of weeks, he’s kept things interesting on the runway. (Thanks to MBTN reader Jason for the tip).
Jason also reports that coach Jerry Manuel appeared in No. 35, solving the mysery of what number he fled to after Chad Bradford claimed his 53 (below). What number remains for World Baseball Classic-exiled reliever Jose Santiago is still unknown (as is the question of whether he’s actually coming back after the tournament is complete). Santiago earlier this spring lost his assigned number 33 to teammate John Maine.
For a guy who may very well wind up released in a few weeks, Jose Lima has sure created a lot of controversy. As previously detailed, Lima was assigned No. 99, gave it up Saturday for No. 42, and was back in 99 again on Sunday. His one day in Jackie Robinson’s number apparently didn’t sit well with some uptight columnists, who all but likened it to urinating on Robinson’s grave. Not courting controversy with this team (Carlos Delgado shall do as he’s told, says Jeff Wilpon), the Mets had Lima back in 99 Sunday. Not that this was ever a big deal. Robinson’s memory survived Butch Huskey, Ron Hodges and Mo Vaughan, and it will survive Lima Time too.
The Mets got a new candidate for the rotation and gave away the highest number in camp to their newest Spring Training invitee, Jose Lima 99.