So the Mets yesterday interestingly if somewhat cruelly relegated Aaron Heilman to the bullpen and hope to make a 5th starter out of rookie Brian Bannister. The debate this raises, of course, is whether Bannister ought to also be afforded a dignified uniform number signifying his ascension. Bannister is wearing No. 61 currently. There are historical precedents for any outcome: When Dwight Gooden earned a roster spot in 1984, he went from 64 to 16; but when Eric Valent unexpectedly made the 2004 Mets, he kept his St. Lucified 57.
Should Bannister wish to pay tribute to his dad Floyd, a cursory check through the baseball cards reveals he wore Nos. 19 and 38 in his career: Neither is available except in the case Heath Bell fails to make the roster or is traded — both possibilities we’ve read in the last week. Perhaps too, numbers don’t matter particularly to Bannister: It appears he wore 25 in Binghamton and 43 at Norfolk; 17 with Team USA and oddly, 3 at USC.
In other news it appears that Anderson Hernandez 1 will get the starting job at second base: Whether he won a competition, or is there to stay, are matters of debate.
Turns out our efforts to confirm Jose Santiago’s uni number were worthless — it appears the Mets either never invited him back and/or actually did then quietly released him before the spring.
More updates and intrigue from St. Lucie: Weepy veteran Bret Boone yesterday turned in his No. 9 jersey and retired. As pictured at left, Chad Bradford was spotted wearing 53, not 35 he was initially issued: That makes sense given his previous stops in Boston and Oakland, but it means a change for coach Jerry Manuel — only to what we’re not sure (thanks Matt for the photo). Readers also checked in with their best guesses as to Jose Santiago’s elusive jersey number: Using the process of elimination, one enterprising guy guessed either 52 (though we wouldn’t be surprised if Manuel shows up with that one now) or 87 — all others with the exceptions of 8, 24, 31 and 69 have been issued, with three of those numbers in semi-hibernation. One possibility we’ve realized by now is Santiago in the 35 we previously thought belonged to Bradford.
Just as Carlos Beltran 15 returned to the lineup, looking remarkably healthy despite a broken face bone, we learned that catcher Mike Piazza 31 will take at least a few days off with a hairline fracture of his own (he fractured his hand, not his hairline). To be certain we’re in catchers, the Mets did a cool thing and recalled slugging, lefthanded-hitting AAer Mike Jacobs, who arrived at the park tonight wearing No. 27. To make room for him, the Mets designated reliever Jose Santiago 33, who failed to distinguish himself over a few weeks as the team’s 6th or 7th reliever.
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.