<
>

Mientkiewicz would fill first base void

NEW YORK -- For the New York Mets, now comes plan B.

They had hoped to add Carlos Delgado and complete a spectacular
offseason that included the signings of Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran. But Delgado chose the Florida Marlins' $52 million,
four-year offer Tuesday.

"You can't win them all," Mets general manager Omar Minaya
said. "You don't like losing, but those things happen."

To fill its void at first base, New York was closing in on a
deal to acquire Doug Mientkiewicz, who is being shopped around by
the Boston Red Sox. The deal, in which Boston would get a minor
leaguer who played at Class-A last year and cash, could be
announced Wednesday.

"We are close to getting a first baseman," Minaya said,
without going into details.

The Mets were awaiting medical records Wednesday.

The team already signed Andres Galarraga as a possible backup.

To provide added power, the Mets could try to sign Magglio Ordonez. Agent Scott Boras, who represents Ordonez, said he spoke with the Mets about the outfielder on Tuesday. Minaya said the Mets had asked at the start of the offseason to examine the medical records of Ordonez, whose season was cut short last year by
injuries that required two operations on his left knee.

Mets ownership has told Minaya it doesn't want him to now turn around and trade for Sammy Sosa, in the wake of losing Delgado, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reported. So it's believed the Mets will keep Mike Cameron for now and explore other possible outfield options during spring training, unless something arises before then.

Florida's deal with Delgado includes a $4 million buyout of a
2009 option. New York's last proposal also was for $52 million, an
offer that included a $2 million buyout of a 2009 option and a
no-trade clause in the first three seasons.

"When I looked at Carlos in the eye, I believe that he told me
he was very interested in coming here," Minaya said. "I want to
believe that. I will continue to believe that."

Even before Delgado made his decision, the Mets sounded as if
they were resigned to him playing in Florida. Still, players were
energized.

"You add the two premier free agents on the market to your
ballclub, it's hard not to feel a ton of excitement," pitcher Tom Glavine said.

Martinez said adding Delgado would have made the Mets "a
contender right away" and "probably one of the favorites in the
league." Still, Martinez felt his decision to sign with the Mets
and the addition of Beltran could catapult the Mets, perennially
New York's No. 2 team, past the Yankees.

"After this year I don't know who's going to be playing second
fiddle. It's yet to be seen," he said. "We have to prove it. We
should prove it."

With the Red Sox, Martinez frequently refused to speak with
reporters and arrived at spring training after the voluntary
reporting date. He came to New York for Tuesday's promotional
appearance and said he will report to spring training on the
opening day.

"This is my first year with the Mets, and I need to be here for
whatever they need me to do," he said. "After this year, I'll
probably say, `I'm training."

Players spoke at a Manhattan museum whose walls were filled with
an exhibit on "The age of hedonism and decadence," a celebration
of New York City in the 1970s. They filed past a "Ford to City:
Drop Dead" poster, and Minaya spoke under a silver disco ball.

Notes
Martinez on Mientkiewicz's decision to keep the ball from
the final out of Boston's World Series win: "I would like to keep
the ball, too. ... I think everyone on the team should have gotten
a little piece of the ball. He's the only one who noticed to keep
the ball. Not even Keith Foulke thought to."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.