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Kaz Ishii placed on the DL


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Another starter for the Mets on the DL


NEW YORK -- Five weeks ago, the Mets were still confident that the depth of their starting pitching, which they thought greater than that of any other National League team, was their greatest asset. Now, it is depth of their disabled list that is most conspicuous.

Kaz Ishii became the third starter and the fifth body assigned to the disabled list on Friday night. The left-handed pitcher, obtained after the Mets lost Steve Trachsel to back surgery in March, was sidelined because of a strained muscle in his left side. The assignment was made retroactive to Tuesday. Kris Benson, Mike Cameron and Felix Heredia also are disabled.


Ishii told the club he felt pain in his two most recent starts -- April 13, when he pitched seven shutout innings against the Astros, and April 18 in Philadelphia, when he threw 95 pitches in five innings, allowing five runs.


Trachsel, Ishii and Benson, who was placed on the DL on Opening Day, were all members of a projected rotation at some point in Spring Training.


Ishii was scheduled to start on Saturday against the Nationals. Before their game on Friday night, the Mets said they had made no decision about his replacement. Their options included summoning Jae Seo from their Triple-A Norfolk affiliate, but he has been ineffective with the Tides. He has no decisions and an 8.22 ERA in three starts, the most recent on Tuesday night. Were he to pitch Saturday at Shea, Seo would be starting on short rest, but he threw only 4 1/3 innings against Louisville on Tuesday, allowing 10 hits and eight runs.


He has allowed 22 hits in 15 1/3 innings, overall.


But with heavy rain forecast for Saturday, the club decided it would wait to make a decision. Seo could be brought to New York, but not added to the roster until the last minute. The club made a similar contingency plan with Heath Bell in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Bell was on-hand, but wasn't added to the roster until the club was certain Heredia was DL-bound.


If Saturday's game isn't played, the Mets would simply skip Ishii's spot in the rotation and pick up with Victor Zambrano starting, as scheduled, on Sunday.


In the park: Former Mets pitcher Ron Darling, now a color analyst for Nationals broadcasts. ... Former Mets first baseman Rico Brogna, now giving scouting a try. Former Mets pitcher Jerry DiPoto, now with the Rockies, asked Brogna if he'd like to try in Spring Training when one of the Rockies' regular scouts became unavailable because of illness in his family. Brogna took advantage of the opportunity to work Spring Training games, but the Nationals-Mets game on Friday night was his first big league assignment.


Mets history for April 23: In 1962, after losing their first nine games, Casey Stengel's Mets gained the franchise's first victory, a 9-1 rout of the Pirates in Pittsburgh. Jay Hook was the winning pitcher, tossing a complete-game five-hitter. He also chipped in with a two-run single in the second inning. ... Two years later, Ron Hunt hit the Mets' first Shea Stadium home run, a bases-empty shot in the eighth inning of a 5-1 loss to the Cubs. ... In 1975, Rusty Staub hit a grand slam off Bob Gibson as Tom Seaver notched a 7-1 victory. ... Bobby Bonilla hit home runs lefthanded and righthanded and drove in five runs in a 6-1 win against the Padres in 1993.


Violations: Grant Roberts, once a bright pitching prospect with the Mets but released by the club on April 14, was one of two Minor League Mets found in violation of Major League Baseball's Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program against performance-enhancing substances (steroids and steroid precursors). Roberts and Adam Seuss, who was released last month, would have been suspended, effective Friday. Seven other players were found to be in violation.





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