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Bad Finger Shuts Down Billy Wagner

Mike SteffanosTuesday, March 21, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

The big story of a quiet morning is news of a minor injury to closer Billy Wagner. According to Marty Noble on Mets.com, Wagner is experiencing some irritation to the middle finger of his pitching hand:

Wagner said that he felt an unusual sensation in his finger while pitching against the Braves on Thursday night. Nonetheless, Wagner pitched again on Saturday, but his plan to pitch in both weekend games was scratched because of pain and swelling in the finger. The results of an MRI taken on Monday were negative.

Wagner said that he had never experienced the problem, but he did have similar symptoms with the Phillies in 2004, when he missed relatively little time.

Noble quotes Wagner, who is confident the injury isn't significant:

I'm not the least bit concerned. It's definitely not career-threatening.

I'm sure if this were the regular season, they could create some kind of concoction to let me throw.

According to Noble, the Mets plan to keep Wagner from throwing until at least the weekend. Now at least everyone has something new to blow out of proportion...

Mets.com: Opening Day Treat
Marty Noble reports on the wonderful first-pitch ceremony the Mets have planned for opening day, where Jesse Orosco will pitch to Gary Carter, echoing the last pitch of the 1986 World Series. (Note to Red Sox fans and their apologists: the Mets really did win that World Series.)

Noble's story includes some priceless reminiscing about the 1986 National League Championship game 6 versus the Astros.

New York Post: Heilman vs. Bannister
Mark Hale offers up an excellent column on the battle between Aaron Heilman and rookie Brian Bannister for the fifth starter's job. Complete with the obligatory quotes from unnamed MLB executives from other teams, Hale does a great job laying out the possible scenarios.

Since I've written about this extensively lately, I'll give it a rest. One thing I do most definitely agree with is that we will find out more about Bannister over the next couple of weeks as he faces better lineups. I really like what I've seen out of this kid so far, but you wouldn't want to make this decision based on games pitched mostly against backups and minor leaguers.

Daily News: More on the Fifth Starter
In a notes column, Adam Rubin offers this on the Heilman - Bannister competition:

Because lefty relievers have emerged, the temptation to put Heilman in the bullpen should be lessened. In fact, Minaya indicated yesterday that the decision about whether to award Brian Bannister, Heilman or even Jose Lima the fifth starter's job would now be based mostly on who team brass thought could be most effective in the starting role. Bannister is pitching coach Rick Peterson's dream - an intellectual pitcher and willing pupil.

While Lima looks probable for the Triple-A rotation with Jeremi Gonzalez, the Heilman-Bannister race appears too close to call right now.

Rubin sees Darren Oliver and Pedro Feliciano as likely lefty candidates to start the season with the Mets, as neither would likely go to the minors. Oliver would retire and Feliciano would rejoin Bobby V. in Japan.

New York Times: Get to Know Xavier Nady
Ben Shpigel offers one of his typically good profiles, this one of the Mets' new x-factor.

Bergen Record: SNY Still Negotiating with Cablevision
John Brennan reports on the ongoing talks between Cablevision and SportsNet New York. Despite rumors and a Bloomberg.com story that a deal had been done since late February, despite the fact that money (the biggest sticking point) has supposedly already been worked out, we continue to wait for this deal to be finalized. Meanwhile, only cable systems owned by Comcast and Time Warner Cable have access to Mets games.

We keep hearing that other deals will come quickly after this one is finalized. Meanwhile, a sincere thanks to Fred Wilpon and company from all of us Mets fans on the outside looking in. Way to go, buddy...

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