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Piazza off disabled list

NEW YORK -- Mike Piazza wants the New York Mets to get him
out of a situation that's been difficult to deal with.

For much of this season, he didn't know whether he'd be at
catcher or first base until he got to the ballpark and glanced at
the lineup card.

"Hopefully, they figure it out," he said Monday, when he was
activated from the disabled list. "If they want to keep doing what
we're doing, fine. If they want to half and half, it is what it
is."

Piazza, sidelined since Aug. 6 because of fluid on his left
knee, has started 41 games at catcher this year and 49 at first. He
was at first base against the Marlins, going 1-for-4 with a
third-inning homer off Dontrelle Willis that tied the score at 1.
Piazza, who tied Carlton Fisk for 56th place on the career list at
376, also struck out twice.

Mets general manager Jim Duquette planned to talk with Piazza
and manager Art Howe before the game. Duquette wants to watch
Piazza at both positions during the final 5½ weeks of the season
before making a call, but promised a decision heading into the
offseason.

"I think there's no question that it would be our intention to
get some final resolution to it," Duquette said. "It's really the
only way we can plan for next year."

Howe, not wanting to give his opinion publicly,
listened to Duquette and said: "I agree wholeheartedly."

Piazza, who turns 36 on Saturday, isn't sure which position he'd
prefer to play. He had wanted to catch long enough to become the
career leader in home runs at the position, which he did May 5 when
he hit his 352nd on May 5 to overtake Carlton Fisk.

His throwing isn't good -- he's gotten just seven of 37 base
stealers -- and his foot and glove work at first base needs lots of
work, which he readily admits.

"I still like to catch," he said. "But on the same note, I
also like the challenge of learning another position. I've enjoyed
playing first at times, no question."

Both Piazza and the team want to get rid of the uncertainty.

"It's up to them, I really do believe," he said. "I think
it's important for them, for the organization, to figure it out
what they want to do and just communicate with me. From the start,
I don't know why there was a sort of a belief that I didn't want to
be a good team player. That was misunderstood."

The Mets lost 13 of 21 games while Piazza was sidelined, sinking
to 60-69, 15½ games behind NL East-leading Atlanta going into
Monday night.

Piazza, counted on as the center of the Mets' offense, was
batting .276 before the injury with 17 homers and 44 RBIss. Playing
with the injured knee, he hit just .143 (7-for-49) after the
All-Star break with one homer and four RBIss, dropping his average
from .297.

"When you're not 100 percent, you do start doing things you're
not accustomed to doing," he said. "I've always been sort of
reliant on being strong and having that strength, and being able to
wait back to the last second to recognize a pitch. When you lose
that a little bit, you start anticipating. I've never hit like that
in my career, so there's no way I was going to be successful at
it."

He found it easier to recover from the injury at the Mets'
spring-training complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., than at Shea
Stadium.

"The more I was down there, I realized the training facilities
here are a little antiquated," he said.