<
>

Piazza to make first start at first

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- All-Star catcher Mike Piazza will make his first start at first base for the New York Mets on Sunday against the Montreal Expos.

New York manager Art Howe said he made the decision because
Sunday is a day game after Saturday's night game, and he wants to
give Piazza a little rest while keeping his bat in the lineup.

Howe said he thinks the new artificial turf in Hiram Bithorn
Stadium will ease the transition for Piazza.

"It's early in the season, so I think it'll be good for him,"
Howe said.

Piazza practiced at first throughout spring training.

"It's definitely not an easy position," he said.

Piazza said he is not worried about slowing down his pursuit of
the career record for most home runs by a catcher. He has 350,
trailing Carlton Fisk by only one.

"I'm not looking at the record, I'm looking at the season as a
whole," Piazza said.

He also wants to get more comfortable in the position so Howe
can use him at first base whenever necessary.

"I want it to be that he doesn't hesitate," Piazza said.