Piazza: Surgery a 'last-ditch option'

Updated: August 12, 2004, 1:42 AM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Mike Piazza was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday because of inflammation in his left knee, leaving the New York Mets without their best hitter as they try to stay on the edge of the NL playoff race.

Mike Piazza
First Base
New York Mets
100 17 44 40 0 .276

The move was made retroactive to Aug. 7. Piazza had an MRI exam Tuesday and received a shot in his knee. He said it probably will need to be drained.

"The doctor was careful because he said after catching for 13 years and even more in the minor leagues, they look pretty good. But there is some wear and tear," Piazza said.

The 11-time All-Star is batting .276 with 17 homers and 44 RBIs this season, but has slumped badly since the end of June.

"It was painful and it was obviously affecting me physically and mentally," Piazza said. "I think everyone knows I've never made excuses."

When asked if surgery was a possibility, he said: "Not at this point. I think that's sort of a last-ditch option."

The Mets recalled infielder Danny Garcia from Triple-A Norfolk to take Piazza's spot on the roster before Wednesday night's game against Houston.

Piazza's knee has been bothering him since Memorial Day, when he banged it into a fence in front of the dugout while making a sliding catch in Philadelphia. He has been getting aggressive treatment since but the knee has not improved, making it impossible to run at full speed.

"When you're in a race and you hit the gas and you just don't have the same power as other cars do, it's frustrating," he said. "You get to the end of the rope a little."

Team trainers told Piazza the only way his knee will get better is with rest and rehabilitation, and the risk for a serious injury was greater if he kept playing on it.

The career home run leader among catchers, Piazza has started 41 games behind the plate and 48 at first base, where he was playing when he got hurt. Elected by fans, he was the starting catcher for the National League in the All-Star game last month.

One of the reasons the Mets moved Piazza to first base this year was to try to keep him healthy -- but he keeps getting banged up there. He missed a week in late July after he sprained his left wrist in a collision while reaching for a wide throw.

The injury-depleted Mets, who entered the day 7 games behind Chicago in the wild-card race, were also missing starting pitcher Tom Glavine, shortstop Kaz Matsui and infielder Jose Reyes.

"Obviously, the timing's not great," general manager Jim Duquette said. "We've had worse adversity during the course of the season ... and we've played through it and battled through it and I anticipate we'll do the same thing."

Glavine lost his two front teeth in an automobile accident Tuesday while going from LaGuardia Airport to nearby Shea Stadium in a taxicab. Glavine also got stitches for a cut lower lip. He was scratched from his scheduled start Wednesday night, but team spokesman Jay Horwitz said the left-hander would probably come to the ballpark to be examined by a doctor.

Duquette said he spoke to Glavine on Wednesday morning.

"He sounded good. Obviously, he was still banged up and was hurting. But he sounded upbeat," Duquette said.

Matt Ginter started in Glavine's place against Roy Oswalt and the Astros.

Matsui said his sore back was feeling a little better, but he missed his second consecutive game. He is day to day.

Garcia was a late addition to the lineup at second base when Reyes, slated to play shortstop, was scratched because of a sore lower left leg.

Notes: Earlier in the day, Piazza was one of several Mets who attended a packed memorial service at St. Patrick's Cathedral for Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Murphy, who died last week.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press