Piazza to make first start at first

Updated: April 11, 2004, 2:21 PM ET
Associated Press

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.

 Mike Piazza

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.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press